Magnesium Deficiency: Causes, Symptoms, And Solutions

magnesium deficiency

In this article, we’ll discuss magnesium deficiency in detail.


Magnesium is one of the most abundant minerals in the human body, stored mostly in the bones and muscles or other soft tissues. It is required for the proper functioning of every organ in the human body, especially the heart and kidneys. Though required in trace quantities, it is an essential mineral, which if not taken in the right quantity can lead to hypomagnesemia.

Importance of Magnesium

Apart from being one of the most important minerals for forming and maintaining your bones and teeth, helping you sleep better, magnesium has a role as a cofactor in more than 300 enzymatic reactions responsible for regulating many body processes such as:

  • Cellular energy generation and storage
  • Protein and DNA synthesis
  • Cell stabilization
  • Cardiac function
  • Bone metabolism
  • Nerve signal transmission
  • Neuromuscular junction operation
  • Insulin and glucose metabolism
  • Blood pressure

Causes of Magnesium Deficiency

Magnesium deficiency can be the outcome of many situations or a combination of the below-mentioned causes:

  • Malnutrition
  • Alcohol abuse
  • Excessive burns on one’s body
  • Kidney tubule disorders
  • Chronic diarrhea
  • Malabsorption syndromes, disorders when the small intestine is unable to absorb the required quantities of certain nutrients (for example, celiac disease or inflammatory bowel disease).
  • Polyuria, a condition of excessive urination, usually observed in cases of unchecked diabetes and even while recuperating from acute kidney failure.
  • Pancreatitis, an inflammation of the pancreas (occurs when the pancreatic enzymes start digesting the pancreas itself).
  • Hyperaldosteronism, a disorder in which the adrenal gland releases too much aldosterone into the blood (can also lead to hypertension; can be both unilateral or bilateral).
  • Side effects of medicines (some common ones are diuretics, amphotericin, cisplatin, proton pump inhibitors, cyclosporine, and aminoglycoside antibiotics).

Consequences of Magnesium Deficiency

Magnesium deficiency in a person can lead to a deterioration in:

  • Brain function
  • Bone density
  • Digestive health
  • Nerve and muscle function

Loss of bone density can cause severe problems and can prevent bone growth thus leading to brittle bones. This puts one at risk of bone fractures and other bone-related health issues like osteoporosis. Hence, it becomes important to keep track of one’s magnesium levels regularly. However, this becomes difficult without proper medical equipment.

Symptoms of Magnesium Deficiency

To help our readers in their efforts to avoid a condition of severe magnesium deficiency, we have curated a list of some of the most noticeable symptoms a person with magnesium deficiency shows. It would be best to consult a doctor and get your Magnesium levels checked in case you have any of these symptoms.

1. Frequent migraines

Magnesium plays an important role in the neurotransmitters that help control and block pain. A fall in its levels can cause one to experience recurring headaches. Magnesium deficiency is also thought to contribute to increased susceptibility to bodily infections and migraines.

2. Mood Swings

Balanced levels of magnesium are required to determine the amount of energy the mitochondria (the powerhouse of a cell) make. Mood swings, mental fatigue, concentration difficulties, and anxiety, all serve as signals that the mitochondria in your brain are struggling.

Magnesium deficiency causes low cellular energy in the brain and makes one moody and often pensive. This is a way for your brain to let you know that something is wrong.

3. Fatigue

One of the earliest signs of magnesium deficiency is weakness, fatigue, and tiredness. This can also be accompanied by a sensation of numbness in the body.

Magnesium is essential for the supply and utilization of energy-rich compounds and in adenosine triphosphate synthesis, thus its deficiency raises concern. Persistent fatigue that does not get better even after proper rest can be a sign of an underlying disease.

Also Read: Add These Energy Foods In Your Diet, If You’re Always Tired

4. Nausea

Though not specific to magnesium deficiency, nausea and vomiting can be an indicator of imbalance in one’s body nutrients and should be further tested.

5. High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure is another indicator of hypomagnesemia. There is an inverse relationship between one’s blood pressure and magnesium levels. In fact, magnesium supplements are often used in the treatment of hypertension. Hypertension and hypomagnesemia are both symptoms of each other.

Also Read: Tips To Reduce Blood Pressure

5. Heart Arrhythmia

Magnesium deficiency affects cardiac electrical activity, myocardial contractility, and vascular tone, and can thus lead to instances of heart arrhythmia. This can be observed due to frequent occurrences of chest pain, lightheadedness, heart palpitations, and fainting. This is often due to the direct impact one’s magnesium levels have on their potassium levels.

6. Asthma

Low magnesium levels also impact the calcium content and lead to calcium build-up in the muscles lining the airways of the lungs, thus constricting the airways. This makes it difficult to breathe and is involved in the arrival of asthma. Asthmatic patients are particularly prone to hypomagnesemia and should consider supplements as a precaution.

7. Muscle Spasms and Cramps

Magnesium is important to get one’s muscles to relax and in regulating muscle contractions. An Epsom (Magnesium Sulphate) salt bath is often recommended after an intense gym session for that very reason. A deficiency of this mineral can cause serious physical effects like tremors and even seizures.

Magnesium deficiency can also lead to consequential deficiencies of hypocalcemia, a lack of calcium, and hypokalaemia, a lack of potassium. These can cause extreme muscle spasm and cramps. Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS) or the urge to twitch or move your legs can also arise.

8. Osteoporosis

This might not exactly be a sign of magnesium deficiency, but this disorder and hypomagnesemia often go hand in hand. This is majorly characterized by weak bones and an increased risk of bone fractures. A lack of magnesium drastically reduces one’s bone density which becomes evident when one is diagnosed with the condition of osteoporosis. In such a case, it is also advisable to get checked for hypomagnesemia.

9. Mental Dysfunctions

The earliest indications of magnesium deficiency are usually neuromuscular and neuropsychiatric disruptions. This includes apathy, mental numbness, and lack of emotion. In severe cases, this might even lead to coma and delirium, and thus should be diagnosed at the earliest.

Certain neurotransmitters require magnesium to function properly, and an imbalance often causes mental conditions such as anxiety and depression. A lack of magnesium causes nerve dysfunction which negatively influences the CNS (Central Nervous System).

Diagnosis and Treatment for Magnesium Deficiency

A blood test is often done to determine the magnesium levels in an individual suspected to be magnesium deficient. Low levels can be indicative of hypomagnesemia and you might have to take supplements to combat the situation.


Magnesium deficiency is a rising concern among the masses, as its symptoms are usually subtle and often go undetected. However, one should always be cautious and aware of their body, and make note of the slightest changes in its functioning. This eliminates the chances of severe magnesium deficiency from springing up in an individual.


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