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Incredibly common yet notoriously difficult to detect, low magnesium has become a fairly widespread problem in our modern Western world. Knowing the early signs to look out for is therefore useful.

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 well imagine, with so many uses, there are many possible low magnesium symptoms. Here’s some of the most common:
• Loss of appetite
• Nausea
• Headache
• Muscle cramps / spasms
• Low energy / fatigue
• Weakness
• Blood sugar imbalance
• Sleep problems
• Pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS)
• Irritability
• Inability to cope with stress
• Constipation

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
• Depression
• Fatigue
• Sleep problems
• High blood pressure
• Nerve problems
• Blood sugar imbalance / Diabetes
• Osteoporosis
• Blood clots
• Muscle cramps / spasms / twitches / tremors
• Headaches / Migraines
• Infertility
• Preeclampsia
• Heart Disease
• Liver Problems
• Cystitis
• Asthma
• 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 possible low magnesium symptoms 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 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 magnesium among the general population.

5. How can I increase my intake of magnesium?

Magnesium is involved in over 600 bodily reactions, and it is likely that many people aren’t consuming enough. It is important therefore to be aware of the possible early signs so you can take action to increase your intake. From magnesium-rich foods to supplements and magnesium bath salts, there are many ways to increase your daily intake. Find out more in 7 Surprising Ways To Support Your Magnesium

Magnesium-rich foods include pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, almonds, spinach, cashew nuts, peanuts, wholegrains, oats, black beans, kidney beans, edamame beans, live yoghurt, banana, salmon, avocado and dark chocolate (100% cacao).3

There are many different types of magnesium supplements and your individual needs will determine whether supplements are right for you and which one to choose. Read more about the different forms of magnesium in supplements in our article Confused About The Different Forms Of Magnesium?

Learn More
• FEMALE HEALTH: Magnesium, PMS & Menopause
• WHY INTAKES ARE LOW: Why We Aren’t Getting Enough 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.

3. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Magnesium-HealthProfessional/

Nutri Advanced has a thorough research process and for any references included, each source is scrutinised beforehand. We aim to use the highest value source where possible, referencing peer-reviewed journals and official guidelines in the first instance before alternatives. You can learn more about how we ensure our content is accurate at time of publication on our editorial policy.