Magnesium Deficiency: 5 Signs You Shouldn’t Ignore

Most people who live in the U.S are completely unaware how important magnesium is. As a result of that, more than 80% of Americans are deficient in this essential mineral.

The negative effects of magnesium deficiency are often very serious, and can be aggravated even more by some drug treatments.

  • Carolyn Dean

Doctor Carolyn Dean is a medical and naturopathic doctor. Back in 2003, she was the lead author on the seminal paper titled “Death by Medicine”, which has shown that modern medicine is one of the leading causes of death in the USA. Dr. Dean also authored the book “Death by Modern Medicine”.

Dr. Dean has studied and written about magnesium for about 15 years. In 2003, she published the first edition of the book titled “The Magnesium Miracle”. Currently, she is working on the third edition of this book.

 “What I want to convey today is the importance of magnesium, how you can get it, how you can know how much you require in your body, and the incredible benefits from using this simple mineral,” she says.

  • Magnesium – One of the Most Important Minerals

Magnesium is one of the most important minerals because it performs numerous biological functions, including:

  • Activating muscles and nerves
  • Creating energy in your body by activating adenosine triphosphate (ATP)
  • Helping digest carbohydrates, fats, and proteins
  • Serving as a building block for RNA and DNA synthesis

As we mentioned above, not many people are getting enough magnesium through their diets these days. At the same time, most people have more calcium in their bodies than they need. The imbalance between these two minerals can cause more harm than good. Having too much calcium while lacking magnesium causes the muscles to contract, leading to muscle spasms. This is bad in the long run, as it has been shown to cause harm to your heart health.

 “What happens is, the muscle and nerve function that magnesium is responsible for is diminished. If you don’t have enough magnesium, your muscles go into spasm. Calcium causes muscle to contract. If you had a balance, the muscles would do their thing. They’d relax, contract, and create their activity,” she said.

According to Dr. Dean, people who don’t have a proper balance between calcium and magnesium in their bodies are at much higher risk of a sudden cardiac death. As she explains, the heart (specifically the left ventricle) has the highest amount of magnesium in the human body. So, when there are insufficient amounts of magnesium in the body, the heart simply cannot function properly.

  • Pay Particular Attention to Your Calcium-Magnesium Ratio

In the last few decades, most health professionals are urging women to take calcium supplements to avoid osteoporosis. Furthermore, many food items have also been fortified with an extra amount of calcium to prevent calcium deficiency among the general population. But unfortunately, such measures aren’t paying off and the rates of osteoporosis continue to rise dramatically.

 “I’ve heard statistics like a 700 percent rise in osteoporosis in a 10-year period, even while taking all this calcium,” Dr. Dean says.

The myth that has been created by some “health experts” is that we need twice as much calcium as we do magnesium. As a result of that, most supplements contain between 1200 and 1500 milligrams of calcium and just a few hundred milligrams of magnesium.

Dr. Dean says that the 2:1 ratio is a mistaken interpretation made by French researcher Jean Durlach, who said never ever go beyond two parts calcium to one part magnesium in your food, water, or supplement intake combined. She added that a more appropriate ratio of calcium to magnesium is 1:1.

  • You Should Pay Attention To Your Vitamin K2 and D Ratios

It is also very important to know that calcium and magnesium also need to be balanced with vitamin D and K2. Dr. Dean’s blogs have also addressed this issue. According to her, a high dose of vitamin D can overwork magnesium and cause magnesium deficiency.

The lack of balance between magnesium, calcium, vitamin D, and vitamin K2 is the reason why calcium supplements have become linked to increased risk of heart attacks and stroke, and why some people experience vitamin D toxicity. Part of the explanation for these side effects is that vitamin K2 has the ability to keep calcium in its appropriate place. If you are deficient in vitamin K2, added calcium can cause far more problems than it can solve, by accumulating in the wrong places.

Also, if you start taking vitamin D supplements, you will also need to take sufficient amounts of magnesium and vitamin K2 (from your food or in the form of supplements). If you don’t do that, there is a big possibility that you will experience vitamin D toxicity and magnesium deficiency symptoms, including inappropriate calcification.

  • The Best Dietary Sources of Calcium and Magnesium

Nuts, seeds, deep green leafy veggies, dairy products, and homemade bone broth are all great sources of calcium

Magnesium, on the other hand, is a bit scarce in our modern food supply.

“Magnesium is farmed out of the soil much more than calcium,” Dr. Dean explains. “A hundred years ago, we would get maybe 500 milligrams of magnesium in an ordinary diet. Now we’re lucky to get 200 milligrams. People do need to supplement with magnesium.”

Unfortunately for all of us, industrial agriculture has depleted most soils of essential minerals such as magnesium. If you can find biologically-grown organic foods (grown on soil treated with mineral fertilizers), you may still get a lot of your magnesium from your diet. Chlorophyll has a magnesium atom in its center, allowing the plant to use the energy from the sun.

Seaweed, leafy green veggies like spinach and Swiss chard, and some beans, nuts, and seeds, like sunflower, pumpkin, and sesame seeds can be fantastic sources of magnesium.

Juicing your vegetables is a great option to ensure that you are getting enough of them in your diet.

However, most foods grown today don’t contain sufficient amounts of magnesium and other essential minerals. Herbicides like glyphosate have the ability to block the uptake and utilization of minerals. As a result of that, most people don’t have access to magnesium-rich foods, which is why everyone should consider using magnesium supplements.

  • The Signs of Magnesium Deficiency

Unfortunately, there is no easily available commercial lab test that can provide a precise data of the magnesium levels in your tissues.

As you probably know, only 1% of magnesium in your body is distributed in your blood. This makes a simple sample of magnesium from a serum magnesium blood test highly inaccurate.

This leaves you with looking for signs and symptoms of magnesium deficiency. Some of the early signs of magnesium deficiency include nausea, weakness, fatigue, headache, and loss of appetite, headache, nausea, fatigue, and weakness. A long-term magnesium deficiency can lead to some serious symptoms, such as:

  • Numbness and tingling
  • Muscle contractions and cramps
  • Seizures
  • Abnormal heart rhythms
  • Coronary spasms
  • Personality changes
  • Which Form of Magnesium Is Best?

According to Dr. Dean, the best way to increase the magnesium levels in your body is by taking magnesium supplements. Many different forms of magnesium supplements are available on the market. The cheapest sources of magnesium are magnesium oxide supplements, which are poorly absorbed by your body (only 4%). The remaining 96 percent goes through your intestines, which is why magnesium oxide tends to have a laxative effect, which can be very useful if you are suffering from constipation.

Another great way to increase the magnesium levels in your body is by taking regular Epsom salt baths. Epsom salt is a magnesium sulfate that can be absorbed into your body through your skin. Additionally, you can also use magnesium oil (from magnesium chloride) to improve your magnesium status.

There are many magnesium supplements on the market because the magnesium must be bound to another substance. Except for pico-ionic magnesium, there is no such a thing as a 100% magnesium. The substances that are used in any given supplements can affect the bioavailability of the magnesium, and may provide a bit different, or targeted health benefits:

  • Magnesium glycinate is a chelated form of magnesium that will provide the highest levels of absorption. It is the ideal supplement for everyone who is suffering from magnesium deficiency
  • Magnesium chloride / Magnesium lactate contain only 12% magnesium, but have better absorption than other magnesium supplements, like magnesium oxide (which contains 5 times more magnesium).
  • Magnesium sulfate / Magnesium hydroxide(milk of magnesia) are commonly used as a laxative. Keep in mind that you can easily overdose on these, which is why you must only take them as directed.
  • Magnesium carbonate contains 45 percent magnesium. This magnesium supplement is best known for its antacid properties,
  • Magnesium taurate contains a combination of magnesium and taurine, an amino acid. Together, these substances tend to provide a calming effect on your body and mind.
  • Magnesium oxide is a non-chelated type of magnesium, bound to an organic acid or a fatty acid. It contains about 60% magnesium and is well known for its stool softening properties
  • Magnesium citrate is magnesium with citric acid, which has powerful laxative properties.
  • Magnesium threonate is a newer type of magnesium supplement that looks promising due to its ability to penetrate the mitochondrial membrane.
  • Many Prescription Drugs Can Reduce The Magnesium Levels in Your Body

According to Dr. Dean, stress and prescription drugs are two major lifestyle factors that significantly reduce the levels of magnesium in your body. Unfortunately, the approach of conventional medical for the former often leads to the latter, making your situation progressively worse. Dr. Dean explains:

“The scenario that I like to talk about is very basic. You will recognize it immediately in either yourself or your family members. You go to your doctor. You’re under massive stress. Massive stress means you’re losing magnesium. You’re burning magnesium out of your body, because it helps support your adrenal glands. It helps keep you away from anxiety and depression. It helps relax your muscles.

If you’re all tight and stressed, your magnesium is being lost, [which makes] the muscles of your blood vessels tighten. That tightness is going to cause increased blood pressure. Your doctor… will say, ‘Oh, your blood pressure is elevated. We’ll give you a diuretic.’

A diuretic will drop the fluid level in your body to take the pressure off your blood vessels, so your blood pressure will drop. But diuretics also drain off your magnesium… A month later you come back, and the doctor finds your blood pressure’s even more elevated. Yes—because you’ve just lost more magnesium! Your doctor then puts you on a calcium channel blocker. Now, they have that part right. They know that without magnesium, your calcium is going to become elevated and will tighten up your blood vessels, so they try to block calcium. But they don’t know that magnesium is a natural calcium channel blocker.

Your doctor may also put you on an angiotensin-converting-enzyme (ACE) inhibitor, another blood pressure drug… So, you go away with three drugs now. After two or three months, you come back and have blood taken to make sure that drugs aren’t hurting your liver…

All of a sudden, your cholesterol is elevated. All of a sudden, your blood sugar is elevated.

What does the doctor say? ‘Oh, we caught your cholesterol. We just caught your blood sugar. We can put you on medications.’ But they didn’t catch them; they caused them.”

Dr. Dean added that the more you deplete your magnesium, the more out of control your cholesterol will be. This is because magnesium helps balance the enzyme that produces cholesterol in your body, which helps normalize your cholesterol levels.

She also says that statin drugs destroy the same enzyme that magnesium balances. Magnesium deficiency is also a common symptom in diabetes, which means that drugs inadvertently increase the risk of diabetes simply by reducing the levels of magnesium in your body.

  • Fluoride Very Effectively Drains Your Body of Magnesium

Dr. Dean is especially concerned about fluoride, which is commonly added to many different drugs. Fluoroquinolone antibiotics like Cipro are well known for their high fluoride content. But, fluoride is also often used in other drugs, including certain anti-anxiety drugs, cholesterol medications, and painkillers for arthritis. Magnesium binds to fluoride to form magnesium fluoride, which effectively drains magnesium from your body.

Many drugs can also cause chronic inflammation. According to Dr. Dean, calcium is a precursor of inflammatory effects, while magnesium is a powerful anti-inflammatory nutrient. For that reason, it is very important to maintain the appropriate ratio of magnesium to calcium. Again, too much calcium without sufficient amounts of magnesium significantly increases the risk of heart disease.

“We’ve got three studies now in the British Medical Journal. It was a research facility out of New Zealand that showed that women who simply take calcium supplements are at a much higher risk for heart disease. Nothing is said about magnesium. People were just sort of left up in the air.

Some doctors are saying, ‘Yeah, don’t take calcium anymore.’ Nobody’s talking about magnesium as being the balance point,” she says.