Low Magnesium? Your Top 5 Questions Answered
Incredibly common yet notoriously difficult to detect, low magnesium has become a widespread problem in our modern Western world. Knowing the early signs and symptoms to look out for is therefore vital.
Here’s your top 5 questions answered on low magnesium – what to look out for, why it’s so difficult to detect clinically, and more.
1. What are the early signs of low magnesium?
Magnesium is an essential mineral involved in over 600 functions in the body. As you can imagine, with so many uses, there are many possible symptoms that can start to emerge when magnesium is low. Here’s some of the most common:
• Loss of appetite
• Muscle cramps / spasms
• Low energy / fatigue
• Blood sugar imbalance
• Sleep problems
• Pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS)
• Inability to cope with stress
2. What are the common health problems that may be associated with low magnesium?
Low magnesium may be an underlying factor in many common and chronic health problems:
• Anxiety & panic attacks
• Sleep problems
• High blood pressure
• Nerve problems
• Blood sugar imbalance / Diabetes
• Blood clots
• Muscle cramps / spasms / twitches / tremors
• Headaches / Migraines
• Heart Disease
• Liver Problems
• Raynaud’s syndrome
3. Why is low magnesium so difficult to detect?
Low magnesium is often referred to as a ‘modern day silent epidemic’ or an ‘invisible deficiency’, because it is so difficult to detect clinically. The most commonly used test – blood serum magnesium – is generally considered to be inaccurate in identifying low levels. This is because less than 1% of body magnesium is found in the blood, and only 0.3% is found in serum. Serum magnesium levels are kept under tight control by the body, and are usually normal, even when there is a nutritional magnesium deficiency. The majority (99%) of the body’s magnesium is actually found in bone, muscles and non-muscular soft tissue.1 In addition, many of the signs of low magnesium are also common symptoms of other health problems, making a clinical diagnosis of low magnesium very difficult.
4. Why is low magnesium so common?
A typical Western diet fails miserably when it comes to supplying magnesium, mainly because this vital mineral is lost during modern day food processing and refining methods. Today’s intensive farming practices have led to declining levels of nutrients in crops too. One study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition compared the modern-day nutrient content of vegetables with 1950 levels and found declines to be as much as 40%.2
Modern fast-paced lifestyles are also bad news for magnesium levels since this essential mineral is used up in high amounts during times of stress. Low dietary intakes coupled with higher needs for the mineral may conspire to result in low levels among the general population.
5. How can I increase my intake of magnesium?
Magnesium is involved in over 600 bodily reactions, and many people are likely to have low levels. It is important therefore to be aware of the early warning signs so you can take action to increase levels as soon as possible. From magnesium-rich foods to supplements and magnesium bath salts, there are many ways to increase your daily intake. Find out more here on Top 10 Ways to Boost Magnesium.
1. Jahnen-Dechent W, Ketteler M. Magnesium Basics. Clin Kidney J. 2012 Feb; 5 (Suppl 1): i3-i14
2. Worthington V. Nutritional quality of organic versus conventional fruits, vegetables and grains. J Altern Complement Med 7: 161-173, 2001.
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