Magnesium deficiency, also known as hypomagnesemia, is an often overlooked health problem.
Fewer than 2 percent of Americans are thought to be magnesium deficient, but this percentage is much higher among hospital and intensive care unit patients, people with diabetes, and people with alcohol use disorders ( 1Trusted Source ).
In some cases, the deficiency may be underdiagnosed because there are no obvious symptoms until your levels drop dramatically.
Causes of magnesium deficiency vary and include (1 trusted source):
certain medications, such as chemotherapy drugs and proton pump inhibitors
acute or chronic diarrhea
“Hungry bone syndrome” after thyroid or parathyroid surgery
Medical conditions such as diabetes, malabsorption, chronic diarrhea, and celiac disease are associated with magnesium loss. People with an alcohol use disorder are at risk for alcoholism ( 2Trusted Source ).
This article lists 7 symptoms of magnesium deficiency.
- Pulling or contracting a muscle
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Tremors, tremors, and muscle cramps are symptoms of magnesium deficiency. In the worst cases, the deficiency can cause seizures and convulsions ( 1 , 3 Trusted Source ).
Scientists believe that these symptoms are due to excessive calcium influx in the neurons, which is due to overstimulation or overstimulation of the muscle nerves (4).
Supplements may help relieve muscle cramps and spasms in some people with a deficiency, but one review concluded that magnesium supplements may not be an effective treatment for muscle spasms in older adults. Other groups require further research (5Trusted Source).
Remember that involuntary muscle stiffness can have many other causes. For example, stress or too much caffeine can force muscles to spasm.
These can be side effects of certain medications or symptoms of neuromuscular diseases such as muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, and myasthenia gravis.
Occasional seizures are common, but if symptoms persist, see a doctor.
Common symptoms of magnesium deficiency include muscle twitching, tremors, and cramps. However, supplementation is unlikely to reduce these symptoms in the elderly or those with magnesium deficiency.
- Mental health status
Mental health is another effect of magnesium deficiency.
An example of this is apathy, characterized by emotional insensitivity or lack of emotion. Excess deficiency can lead to delirium and loss of consciousness ( 3Trusted Source ).
Additionally, observational studies have linked low magnesium levels to an increased risk of depression ( 6Trusted Source ).
Scientists have hypothesized that magnesium deficiency may trigger anxiety, but direct evidence is lacking ( 7Trusted Source ).
One review concluded that magnesium supplements may benefit people with anxiety, but the quality of the evidence was low. More high-quality research is needed to reach any conclusions ( 8Trusted Source ).
In short, magnesium deficiency seems to impair nerve function and improve mental health in some people.
Magnesium deficiency can cause mood swings, delirium, and even coma. Scientists believe that deficiency can cause anxiety, but there is no strong evidence to support this idea.
Osteoporosis is a condition in which the bones become weak and the risk of fractures increases.
Many factors contribute to the risk of developing osteoporosis, including:
lack of movement
Inadequate consumption of vitamins D and K in food
Interestingly, magnesium deficiency is a risk factor for osteoporosis. While this deficiency can directly weaken bones, it also lowers blood levels of calcium, a key building block of bone ( 9Trusted Source , 10Trusted Source ).
Studies in rats have confirmed that dietary magnesium deficiency reduces bone mass. While these studies have not been done in humans, studies have linked poor magnesium intake to lower bone mineral density ( 11Trusted Source , 12Trusted Source ).
Magnesium deficiency may be one of the risk factors for osteoporosis and bone fractures, but many factors contribute to this risk.
- Fatigue and muscle weakness
Fatigue, including physical and mental fatigue and weakness, is another symptom of magnesium deficiency.
Remember that everyone gets tired from time to time. Basically, it just means you need to rest. However, severe or persistent fatigue can be a sign of a medical problem.
Fatigue is a non-specific symptom, so it is impossible to determine its cause if it is not accompanied by other symptoms.
Another characteristic symptom of magnesium deficiency is muscle weakness, which is due to myasthenia gravis
um deficiency (14Trusted Source, 15Trusted Source).
Therefore, magnesium deficiency is one possible cause of fatigue or weakness.
Magnesium deficiency may cause fatigue or muscle weakness. However, these are not specific signs of a deficiency unless they are accompanied by other symptoms.
- High blood pressure
Animal studies show that magnesium deficiency may increase blood pressure and promote high blood pressure, which is a strong risk factor for heart disease (16Trusted Source, 17Trusted Source).
While direct evidence in humans is lacking, several observational studies suggest that low magnesium levels or poor dietary intake may raise blood pressure (18Trusted Source, 19Trusted Source, 20Trusted Source).
The strongest evidence for the benefits of magnesium comes from controlled studies.
Several reviews have concluded that magnesium supplements may lower blood pressure, especially in adults with high blood pressure (21Trusted Source, 22Trusted Source, 23Trusted Source).
Put simply, magnesium deficiency may increase blood pressure, which, in turn, increases the risk of heart disease. Nevertheless, more studies are needed before its role can be fully understood.
Evidence suggests magnesium deficiency may raise blood pressure. Additionally, supplements may benefit people with high blood pressure.
Magnesium deficiency is sometimes seen in people with severe asthma (24Trusted Source, 25Trusted Source).
Additionally, magnesium levels tend to be lower in individuals with asthma than in people who do not have this condition (26Trusted Source, 27Trusted Source).
Researchers believe a lack of magnesium may cause the buildup of calcium in the muscles lining the airways of the lungs. This causes the airways to constrict, making breathing more difficult (28Trusted Source).
Interestingly, an inhaler with magnesium sulfate is sometimes given to people with severe asthma to help relax and expand the airways. For those with life-threatening symptoms, injections are the preferred method of delivery (29Trusted Source, 30Trusted Source).
However, evidence for the effectiveness of dietary magnesium supplements in individuals with asthma is inconsistent (31Trusted Source, 32Trusted Source, 33Trusted Source).
In short, scientists believe severe asthma may be linked to magnesium deficiency in some people, but further studies are needed to investigate its role.
Magnesium deficiency has been associated with severe asthma. However, its role in the development of asthma is not entirely understood.
- Irregular heartbeat
Heart arrhythmia, or irregular heartbeat, is among the most serious possible effects of magnesium deficiency (34Trusted Source).
Arrhythmia can range from causing no symptoms to causing very serious symptoms. In some people, it may cause heart palpitations, which are pauses between heartbeats.
Other possible symptoms of arrhythmia include:
shortness of breath