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Everything You Need to Know About Magnesium Deficiency

Medically Approved by Dr. Edward Salko

Table of Contents

Deficiency of any kind is never good news. However, the discussion mill is not churning just enough when it comes to magnesium deficiency.

Magnesium deficiency occurs in about 2% of Americans. However, about 75% still don’t get the necessary intake to correct the condition. 

On the other hand, more people seem to overlook magnesium deficiency. Hence, it is expected that the condition is not diagnosed until advanced symptoms show up. 

But considering the abundance of magnesium in food and the ability of your body to retain the mineral, it is quite a stretch to experience magnesium deficiency.

Nonetheless, this condition can come with other health issues. So, it is best to fully understand the function of magnesium and how to ensure you get enough to sustain your wellness. 

Likewise, it also contributes to diagnosing magnesium deficiency considering you’ll be familiar not just with the symptoms but other conditions related therein. 

What Is the Role of Magnesium in the Body? 

Magnesium plays an integral part in many functions of the body. 

Although some would assume that the role of magnesium in processes like metabolism and physiological activities is negligible, in reality, without sufficient magnesium, your body would suffer in many ways. 

After all, magnesium is involved in over 600 molecular and biochemical reactions that sustain your bodily systems. 

Here are the critical functions of magnesium in the body. 

Energy Production

Magnesium activates a substance called ATP (adenosine triphosphate). And ATP is the currency of energy. It can be derived chiefly from glucose or sugar.

Therefore, low magnesium can lead to insufficient ATP production, which can cause sluggishness or fatigue. 

Bone Strengthening 

Magnesium ensures higher bone density. This is why people with sufficient magnesium intake have healthier bones. 

Likewise, experts often recommend an increased dietary intake of magnesium to elders and those prone to bone fractures and bone disorders. 

Nerve and Muscle Function

One of the foundations of neuromuscular coordination is proper nerve signaling towards the muscle tissues. 

In the process of transmission and neuromuscular conduction, magnesium becomes an essential player. As a result, magnesium is seen as a potential link in preventing and treating several neurological disorders. 

Improved Immune System

Magnesium influences the physiology of immune cells. Likewise, it also has an impact on the regulation of immune responses. According to research, there has been a direct link between magnesium deficiency and systemic inflammation. 

What Are the Health Benefits of Magnesium?  

While it’s easy to overlook the functions of magnesium, considering it’s automated in our system, you can’t deny the benefits of magnesium once you experience or observe it firsthand. 

More often than not, you can recognize these benefits when an underlying condition or diagnosed disorder is at hand. 

Nevertheless, even before a health issue arises, learning more about these advantages can give you a better grasp of why magnesium intake shouldn’t be taken for granted. 

  1. It helps in regulating blood sugar levels.

Processing glucose is a critical part of regulating blood sugar levels. 

With the role of magnesium in this biochemical activity, it comes as no surprise that it influences the prevention of metabolic disorders like type 2 diabetes. 

Likewise, this notion is backed up by evidence showing that 48% of people with diabetes also have a magnesium deficiency. 

  1. It lowers blood pressure.

If you have hypertension or high blood pressure, it’s generally recommended to check your magnesium levels. 

According to research, increased magnesium intake lowers high blood pressure for those who have the condition. 

  1. It improves your mood.

Magnesium does not simply benefit your physical health but also your mental health. Adequate magnesium levels in the body aid in mood regulation. On the other hand, those who had a lower magnesium intake are 22% more likely to develop depression

  1. It provides relief to headaches.

One of the worst recurring pain commonly experienced is migraine. And evidence suggests that magnesium both prevents and provides relief to this condition at a fast rate. Moreover, those who have a magnesium deficiency. 

  1. It provides muscular endurance. 

Magnesium supplementation has been a norm in many rigorous sports. It leads to muscle strength and endurance, which are essential for many athletes and those who enjoy frequent workouts. 

Magnesium Daily Intake 

The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for magnesium varies for men and women. In the same way, pregnant women also require more than the regular RDA.

Adult women need 310 to 320 mg of magnesium, while men must secure 400 to 420 mg of daily magnesium intake. The recommended magnesium dietary allowance for pregnant women is 350 to 360 mg. 

What Is Magnesium Deficiency?

Simply put, magnesium deficiency occurs when you have low magnesium levels in your body. This condition is determined through a blood test. So, if you have inadequate magnesium, the reading will be lower than the normal range, which is 1.7 to 2.2 mg/dL. 


  • Fatigue 
  • Nausea 
  • Numbness 
  • Drowsiness 
  • Mood swings 
  • Muscle spasms
  • Loss of appetite 
  • Irregular heartbeats
  • Tremors and twitches
  • Weakness and stiffness 
  • Tingling in the extremities 


Magnesium deficiency is diagnosed mainly through a blood test, particularly the total serum magnesium test or simply a magnesium blood test

Your doctor will most likely ask you to take the test if you have the symptoms mentioned above. A medical professional will draw a sample from your blood and will be held in the laboratory for analysis. 

If you’re looking for a convenient way to secure the magnesium blood test, you can order it online. 

For example, you can go to Personalabs and choose the said blood test and other vitamin and nutrition tests. All the necessary arrangements will be made in your own account, such as locating the nearest laboratory and scheduling your blood tests. 

Moreover, the results will be published privately in your account so you can print them and show them to your doctor. 


Magnesium deficiency is often associated with a poor diet. 

However, for healthy individuals, this condition comes hand-in-hand with health conditions like type 2 diabetes, Crohn’s disease, celiac disease, and kidney problems. Moreover, alcoholism and dependency on diuretic substances can also lead to magnesium deficiency. 


Your doctor will prescribe an oral magnesium supplement to correct the deficiency. Likewise, you will be advised to make necessary adjustments in your diet, specifically by adding foods rich in magnesium. 

Is Magnesium Deficiency Serious? 

Yes, severe magnesium deficiency or hypomagnesemia can be life-threatening. It can lead to heart conditions like arrhythmias and coronary artery spasms. 

There have also been several observations of personality shift among those who have a severe magnesium deficiency. It encompasses some behavioral changes and extreme moods. 

Moreover, it could also trigger seizures, numbness, tingling, and cramps. Likewise, in some cases, hypomagnesemia becomes fatal. 

However, severe magnesium deficiency most likely develops if it goes untreated during the onset of the condition. That’s why it is crucial to get tested for the condition as soon as you observe symptoms of the deficiency.  

What Are the Health Conditions Linked to Magnesium Deficiency?

If magnesium deficiency goes untreated, it can aggravate or turn into serious conditions such as heart disease, hypertension, osteoporosis, severe migraines, and insulin resistance commonly observed in diabetic individuals. 

Who Is Most at Risk for Magnesium Deficiency?

Elderly individuals and people diagnosed with metabolic conditions are at risk for hypomagnesemia or magnesium deficiency. Moreover, those diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, digestive disorders, and Crohn’s disease can also develop the condition. 

Aside from health conditions, your lifestyle can also lead to magnesium deficiency. For example, if you suffer from alcohol dependency, chances are your magnesium levels will be significantly lowered. 

Does Vitamin D Deplete Magnesium? 

Unfortunately, too much vitamin D can deplete magnesium, affecting metabolism, immunity, and other critical functions in your body.

According to research, if vitamin D supplementation goes out of the recommended control, it can induce magnesium deficiency. This explains why some people with sufficient magnesium in their diet still suffer from hypomagnesemia. 

With that, it is recommended to take magnesium supplementation if you are taking one for vitamin D. 

On the other hand, other regular substances also contribute to magnesium depletion. For example, an overload of sugar and caffeine can decrease magnesium levels. 

How to Raise Magnesium Levels? 

If you plan to increase magnesium levels in your body, consider the following ways.

  1. Get a magnesium supplement. 

You can take advantage of magnesium supplements available in the market. They often come in tablet or capsule form.

These supplements contain exact amounts of the mineral corresponding to the deficient level. However, it is still best to seek your doctor’s advice, especially if you are under treatment for other health conditions. 

  1. Avoid drinking alcohol, caffeine, and sugary drinks.

Alcohol, caffeinated drinks, and sugary food and beverages can inhibit the production of magnesium. Therefore, stir clear from these substances if you have a magnesium deficiency. 

  1. Check your vitamin D levels.

The relationship between vitamin D and magnesium production is inverse. This means when vitamin D is in large amounts, it will decrease magnesium. That’s why, if you have hypomagnesemia, it’s helpful to check your vitamin D levels as well.  

  1. Eat magnesium-rich foods.

Your body cannot produce its own supply of magnesium. Instead, the mineral is derived from the food you eat. So, it only makes sense to design a meal plan with an increased amount and variety of magnesium-rich foods.

If you’re wondering what food to include in your diet, check out the list below. 

11 Foods High in Magnesium 

  1. Avocados

It’s creamy and tasty, but more importantly, it’s packed with magnesium. The avocado craze has been one excellent health trend as far as vitamins and minerals are concerned. 

One piece of avocado has about 58.3 mg of magnesium which already covers a significant amount of your daily RDA. 

  1. Bananas

Bananas are rich in potassium but what most people are not aware of is that it is also filled with magnesium. 

A large banana has about 37 mg of magnesium. That’s about 9% of the required dietary intake for the mineral. 

  1. Dark chocolate 

On top of its decadent taste, dark chocolate has plenty of nutrients. Fortunately, it includes high magnesium levels, making it a suitable dietary inclusion for those who have hypomagnesemia. 

One oz of dark chocolate has 64.6 mg of magnesium. 

  1. Edamame beans 

 Edamame beans are soybeans harvested at their premature stage. It’s a beloved appetizer due to its rich taste. 

Eating edamame has lots of benefits, and one of them is getting large amounts of magnesium. A single cup of edamame provides 99.2 mg of magnesium, making up about 25% to 30% of the RDA. 

  1. Spinach 

Spinach is a hit in many homemade recipes. But more than its versatile culinary use, you get high amounts of magnesium from this leafy vegetable. For every 100 grams of spinach, you get 79 mg of magnesium. 

  1. Legumes

Different types of legumes are packed with magnesium. Plus, you can enjoy eating them in various ways. Check out how much magnesium is found in the following legumes for every cup.

  • Lentils – 36 mg 
  • Peanuts – 168 mg
  • Pinto beans -176 mg 
  • Green peas – 47.9 mg
  1. Low-fat dairy products

You can always enjoy a cup of non-fat dairy products and get the essential nutrients at the same time. And when magnesium content comes into the subject, products like non-fat yogurt contribute a sufficient amount. 

In fact, for every cup (245 g) of non-fat yogurt, you get 36.8 mg of magnesium. 

  1. Nuts and seeds

You’ll be surprised with how much magnesium you can get with nuts and seeds – because there are a lot. Aside from magnesium, these natural foods are also rich in other vitamins and minerals. 

Here’s an overview of the amount of magnesium in nuts and seeds per 100 grams.


  • Brazil nuts – 376 mg
  • Cashew – 292 mg
  • Hazelnuts – 163 mg
  • Macadamia nuts – 130 mg
  • Walnuts – 158 mg


  • Pumpkin seeds – 592 mg
  • Flaxseeds – 392 mg
  • Sesame seeds – 352 mg
  • Poppy seeds – 347 mg
  1. Oily fish

It’s no doubt fatty fish is one of the highly nutritious catches you can get from the market. In addition, it’s generally regarded as good for the heart with its incredible amount of omega-3 fatty acids. 

Nonetheless, the benefits extend to its high levels of magnesium. Take the following oil fish, for example. 

  • Skipjack tuna – 67.8 mg per ½ fillet
  • Salmon – 53.5 ½ fillet
  • Mackerel  – 60 for 100 grams
  1. Potatoes 

Potatoes are a treat. But if you prepare them the healthy way, they warp into a delicious and nutritious delight. 

With regard to magnesium content, potatoes boiled with the skin on, provide about 8% of the recommended dietary intake for magnesium. Moreover, a medium-sized potato contains magnesium at 49 mg. 

  1. Whole grains

You can never go wrong with including whole grains in your grocery list. They are simply saturated with various nutrients that keep you protected from diseases and leave you with optimum health.

Magnesium in whole grains is no question. Here’s how much you can get from some of them. 

  • Quinoa – 60 mg per ½ cup 
  • Oatmeal – 60.8 per cup
  • Brown rice – 83.9 mg per cup 

The Bottom Line 

There’s no reason why you should take magnesium deficiency for granted. In hindsight, it may seem like a minor health issue, but it can lead to a more severe condition. 

Therefore, if you experience any symptoms of hypomagnesemia, don’t hesitate to consult with your doctor. That way, you can secure the appropriate test and get the proper treatment. In no time, you can restore your health and wellness. 

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