There are many nutrients and minerals which we all know we need to consume on a regular basis. From iron to potassium, zinc to calcium, we’ve been trained from an early age to know what’s good for us regarding diet and nutrition.
We’re also usually pretty well-versed in what an iron deficiency (anemia) or a calcium deficiency (hypocalcemia) look like; muscle cramps and abdominal cramps, feelings of tiredness or weakness, et cetera.
Perhaps one of the more neglected nutrients which we all need in our diet is magnesium. Magnesium is one of the most plentiful minerals your body contains, and is chiefly found in your bones.
There’s also a trace amount of magnesium circulating in your bloodstream. Since magnesium can be found naturally in your body, it’s not a huge stretch to figure out that it’s necessary for a healthy life.
Benefits of Proper Magnesium Intake
Magnesium is also crucial for several metabolic processes within your body, which influence organ function, bone health, and several other things.
The metabolic reactions which magnesium governs influence factors like cell stabilization, DNA synthesis, and protein synthesis, as well as more visible processes like cardiac function and blood pressure.
Magnesium is a critical mineral for your body.
Symptoms of Hypomagnesemia (Low Magnesium | Magnesium Deficiency)
Just like all the other minerals in your body, though, it’s possible to be low in magnesium. When this happens, it’s not always easy to figure out that low magnesium is the cause, as many of the signs and symptoms are fairly common to several conditions and might not be anything to do with a magnesium deficiency.
As always, we strongly recommend you visit your doctor if you think anything is amiss; it is admirable to want to treat yourself, but a trained healthcare professional will always be able to help you.
If you do suspect you have hypomagnesemia (the official medical term for a magnesium deficiency), then you may experience some of the following symptoms:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Muscle weakness
- Lack of appetite
As your magnesium deficiency progresses, there’s a chance you might develop some more severe symptoms. Here are some of the signs to watch out for when hypomagnesemia worsens:
- Muscle cramps
- Irregular heart rhythms (arrhythmia)
- Back disorders
- Numbness and tingling
In addition to physical symptoms, you may also experience personality changes such as irritability, trouble socializing and potentially depression and anxiety.
These personality changes can be biological, but are also sometimes socially inflicted; the biological symptoms you experience may lead you to want to go out less or to socialize with friends less.
Diagnosing Hypomagnesemia (Low Magnesium | Magnesium Deficiency)
Don’t worry, though: it’s not all doom and gloom. Hypomagnesemia is fairly easy to diagnose compared to other conditions.
A visit to your healthcare professional will likely result in a blood test and a physical examination, as well as a conversation about your medical history and diet.
You’ll get a chance to explain your symptoms to your doctor, who will then perform the relevant tests to see whether you have hypomagnesemia.
The blood test might not be 100% accurate – a low presence of magnesium in your blood doesn’t necessarily indicate hypomagnesemia, as it doesn’t reflect levels in your bones or the rest of your body – but it’s a strong indicator.
Causes of Hypomagnesemia (Low Magnesium | Magnesium Deficiency)
There are also several disorders which can increase the risk of hypomagnesemia. If you suffer from GI (gluten intolerance) related disorders such as Celiac disease or Crohn’s disease, you may find that your body’s intake of magnesium is significantly impacted.
This could take the form of reduced efficiency in absorbing magnesium, or it could mean that you lose magnesium quickly (perhaps due to diarrhea or vomiting brought about by your disorder). Type 2 diabetics may also struggle with a lack of magnesium due to increased urination brought on by higher concentrations of glucose in the bloodstream.
Of course, you might be low in magnesium simply as a result of aging. Older people tend to lack magnesium due to an increased presence of magnesium in urine, as well as a decreased tendency for the gut to absorb magnesium efficiently. Additionally, if you suffer from drug or alcohol dependence, then you may not be eating as healthily as possible, so your magnesium levels might drop as a result of this.
Magnesium deficiency is very important to locate and treat, as (admittedly in rare cases) several complications can arise from it. These hypomagnesemia-related disorders include, but are not limited to:
- Cardiac arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat)
- Seizures and muscle spasming
- Coronary artery vasospasm
- Sudden death
How to Treat Hypomagnesemia (Low Magnesium | Magnesium Deficiency)
It’s also fairly easy to treat non-severe hypomagnesemia. If your magnesium deficiency is not severe, your doctor may recommend alterations to your diet to accommodate more magnesium. Magnesium-rich foods include the following:
- Whole grain cereals and whole wheat bread
- Fish such as salmon and halibut
- Skin-on baked potatoes
- Nuts such as cashews, peanuts, and almonds
- Soy milk
Making these changes to your diet is a relatively small task, and could significantly boost your body’s magnesium levels, so treatment isn’t too arduous. If your hypomagnesemia is a little more pronounced or severe, then there’s a chance your doctor will prescribe magnesium supplements.
These usually take the form of small pills, which can easily be taken with a glass of water or similar.
Magnesium supplements are even commercially available at certain outlets, so they’re not difficult to get hold of at all.
In the rare event that your hypomagnesemia is severe, you may require magnesium to be intravenously inserted into your body via an IV drip.
Around 2% of the general population suffers from hypomagnesemia, with the number suffering from severe forms of the condition even lower.
Scientific studies estimate that a large percentage of people are nowhere near their recommended dose of magnesium, so even if you don’t suffer from hypomagneseium, you are likely to benefit hugely from an increase of magnesium in your diet.
Making changes to your lifestyle can greatly impact your health, as well as ensure you don’t develop health complications further down the line.