Magnificent Magnesium: How a Deficiency of It Could Number Your Days

Posted on December 4th, 2015 by Dr. Mercola  |  6 Comments »

magnesium deficiencyMagnesium may not be as well-known as other minerals, but it’s a very important component of our body. Unfortunately, research shows that an estimated 80 percent of Americans are magnesium deficient.

Studies highlight that 25 percent of US adults aren’t getting the recommended daily amount, which is 310 to 320 mg for women and 400 to 420 mg for men. What’s worse, you may be deficient in magnesium and not know it until it’s too late.

Why Magnesium Matters

Magnesium is usually associated only with bone and heart benefits but it actually affects your whole body, especially your organs, where it’s utilized for biological functions. Further, additional research has shown that it’s found in 3,751 magnesium-binding sites on human proteins, and in more than 300 different enzymes.

These are just some of magnesium’s roles in your body:

  • Assisting in the body’s detoxification processes
  • Activating muscles and nerves
  • Creating energy in your body by activating adenosine triphosphate (ATP)
  •  Helping in digestion of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats
  • Keeping your metabolism efficient
  • Serving as a building block for RNA and DNA synthesis
  • Acting as a precursor for neurotransmitters like serotonin

Magnesium also plays a part in preventing, slowing down, or lowering your risk of impaired glucose and insulin metabolism, progression from the prediabetes to diabetes state, cancer, colorectal tumors, and sudden cardiac death.

The Dangers of Magnesium Deficiency

A lack of magnesium can trigger any of the 22 scientifically-proven “medical areas,” noted by Dr. Carolyn Dean in her book, The Magnesium Miracle. These include:

  • Anxiety, panic attacks, and depression
  • Blood clots
  • Heart, kidney, and liver disease
  • Musculoskeletal conditions like fibromyalgia, cramps, and chronic back pain
  • Nerve problems

Unfortunately, there’s no test that can determine exactly how much of the mineral is in your system, but you can prevent magnesium deficiency by watching out for early warning signs. These include loss of appetite, headaches, nausea, fatigue, and weakness. More serious symptoms include abnormal heart rhythms, coronary spasms, numbness and tingling, and seizures.

There are also factors that can affect your magnesium levels, such as an unhealthy digestive system, old age, constant intake of medications like diuretics, antibiotics, corticosteroids, antacids, and insulin, and excessively consuming caffeinated drinks, alcohol, and sugar.

Improving Your Body’s Magnesium Levels

There are three ways you can improve your magnesium levels. One is by consuming magnesium-rich food such as green leafy vegetables like spinach or Swiss chard, seaweeds, beans, nuts, and seeds like pumpkin, sunflower, and sesame.

Eating them raw or cooked lightly is the best way to obtain as much of the mineral as possible, since cooking and further processing decreases magnesium content. You can also juice these for a revitalizing boost. As previously recommended, always purchase them fresh and pesticide-free at your local market or grocery store.

Second, you can opt for supplements. One thing you should know about magnesium is that it must be bound to another substance. The substance magnesium affects its absorption and bioavailability, and may have slightly different or targeted health benefits, hence, the numerous varieties in the market.

Magnesium l-threonate and citrate are your two best options. They differ in two areas: their composition and the laxative properties of the citrate version. L-threonate is milder on your GI tract, while the latter contains citric acid, and is a known laxative.

Regardless, both are known to penetrate your cell membranes and the blood-brain barrier, and intake of these supplements can lead to higher amounts of energy, and even help obstruct the development of dementia and improve memory.

Just stay away from supplements containing magnesium stearate. This is a potentially hazardous additive that manufacturers use as an excipient to protect production equipment but can also halt nutrient absorption into your digestive tract.

Whether you ingest magnesium through food or supplements, be sure to consume a balanced ratio of calcium, vitamin K2, and vitamin D3 as well. These vitamins and minerals work in synergy, so adequate proportions of these ensure their effectivity.

Topical application of magnesium-rich products is also an option. Some common examples of this method are Epsom salt baths or foot soaks, and applying magnesium oil onto your skin.

Convinced of the advantages you could get from magnesium? It’s never too late to incorporate more of this mineral into your diet. It may turn out to be the key to a longer and healthier life.

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Responses to “Magnificent Magnesium: How a Deficiency of It Could Number Your Days”

  1. LAMONT says on :


  2. Thelma Moore says on :

    I had this problem several years ago. First it concerned my heart. I was scheduled for a heart Cath. A few days later. While at the hospital they also drew blood. Well the day came for the Heart Cath. About that time my lab work came back. It appeared that my Magnesium and Calcium were depleted. Due to severe IBS AND CROHN’s disease. So I was put in the hospital and give magnesium and calcium IV FOR 4 days. The cardiologist wrote a Rx for magnesium and OsCal+D500mg. 2 twice a day for each. But just magnesium (plain) just caused diarrhea. So I called my pharmacist and he did some research on the magnesium. And found it would cause diarrhea. So he suggested MagnesiumChelate 200mg 2twice/day. And I have not had as much diarrhea if any since switching. Feels much better. I’m not saying my IBS IS UNDER CONTROLLED. BECAUSE IF I GET stressed, panic attacks or anxiety goes up. Or I can feel irregular heartbeat. I’m pretty sure it’s one or both minerals I’ll call my doctor and she will order lab work. And we go from there. I also have fibromyalgia and chronic lower back pain Well there it is my story on depleted Calcium and Magnesium.

  3. Yvonne Kotze says on :

    For 28 years I was prone to migraine headaches about thrice a weak. I had all this tingling, numbness, blurred vision, nausea, etc. Through observing my diet and reading about foods that can trigger it, I came to realize that I lack magnesium and calcium to relax the spasm in my veins and brain. As I see it – magnesium is the only mineral which stores energy naturally. Usually I could cope well under stress but as soon as the stress was lifted, I had a migraine – that was when all my magnesium has been depleted. I started using Dolomite – a magnesium and calcium supplement – every day for 5 years and ever since I am free from migraines. Thought this may help someone else?!

  4. Karon Wrightg says on :

    Hello Dr Mercola, I have been taking your product called Magnesium Thronate for a while now. I love how it relaxes me and helps me sleep. Lately though, I have been getting cramping in my legs and especially toes. If I stop the MT then the cramps will stop but then I don’t sleep as well. It is hard for me to believe that magnesium will cause me to have leg cramps. I don’t want to stop taking the Mag Thro. What can I add to my diet and supplements to get rid of the cramping? I also have a history of Crohn’s but I am managing the immune responses very well with diet and exercise. I am following the AIP Lifestyle and love how it makes me feel. Much thanks for any help you can offer.

    Karon Wright

  5. Mitch says on :

    Thanks for a great article. I had no idea about Magnesium Stearate. Is it bad, even in the vegetable form ?
    I always use the healthier topical MAGNESIUM.
    “Topical application of magnesium-rich products is also an option. Some common examples of this method are Epsom salt baths or foot soaks, and applying magnesium oil onto your skin.”
    I personally use the Sea Brine version. It appears to absorb rapidly and work well. I rub it on my feet, and sometimes my abdomen, before sleep time. I personally use this one, that our company sells :
    Thankfully Magnesium in inexpensive.
    I also discovered that QUINOA has magnesium. One cup of cooked quinoa has 118 mg of magnesium.

    Thanks for this information.

  6. Mitch says on :

    In case others want to know one I use , it’s on the Nutricelebrity website, the brand is Life Flo. Comes from European North Sea. I get the Spray bottle.

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