5 Magnesium Deficiency Symptoms Women Should Know (+ How To Fix It )

5 Magnesium Deficiency Symptoms Women Should Know (+ How To Fix It )

magnesium rich foods on board

How Common Is Magnesium Deficiency?

A medical review states that magnesium deficiency is a public health crisis with about 50% of Americans consuming less than the estimated average requirement of magnesium each day. That’s a lot of people who might be unknowingly suffering from a deficiency of this important mineral.

And if you have a blood test for low magnesium, it may not show the full picture of your magnesium status. This is because the level of magnesium in your blood does not reflect the magnesium levels in your cells and bones which makes up over 99% of total magnesium in your body.

Magnesium concentrations can also be measured by using saliva or urine samples, however none of these test methods is considered to be 100% accurate. The result of this means most cases of magnesium deficiency are going undetected.

A magnesium deficiency may also go undiagnosed as the obvious signs often don’t appear until your levels become severely low.

Additionally, because of medication use, decrease of magnesium in foods and overconsumption of processed food the majority of people in modern societies run the risk of being magnesium deficient.

 

What Are The Signs Of Low Magnesium In The Body?

magnesium deficiency symptoms infographic

5 magnesium deficiency symptoms women can experience include:

  • Anxiety  And Depression- Magnesium has a calming effect on your central nervous system. It helps calm your body and improve your outlook in general. A study shows how a deficiency of magnesium helps create anxiety due to dysregulation of the HPA axis.
  • Insomnia – When taken before bedtime, magnesium can help you get a good night’s sleep. A clinical trial showed that magnesium supplementation improves both sleep quality and sleep duration.
  • Muscle Twitching, Cramps, Weakness and Stiffness – Magnesium plays a role in brain/muscle signalling helping with muscle contraction.
  • Fatigue – Most chronic fatigue syndrome patients are magnesium deficient and I was one of them. Weakness, fatigue and low energy are common symptoms that show up when you are low in magnesium.
  • Migraines/Headaches – A deficiency of magnesium has been linked to migraine headaches. This is thought to be due to its role in neurotransmitter balancing. Strong data supports the role of magnesium in migraines and headaches.

These symptoms can be bad enough, but what is perhaps more important is that a prolonged deficiency of magnesium can contribute to chronic illnesses such as heart disease, osteoporosis, high blood pressure and Type 2 diabetes.

A study found magnesium deficiency in a whopping 84% of postmenopausal women with osteoporosis. Not only are calcium and Vitamin D important components of good bone health, but it seems magnesium also plays a role.

And another study of pregnant women receiving magnesium supplementation, showed the frequency of complications in pregnancy was reduced compared to groups not taking a supplement.

Magnesium deficiency during pregnancy has been shown to be linked to a higher risk of premature labor, lower birth weight  and preeclampsia.

 

5 Reasons You Are At Risk Of Developing A Magnesium Deficiency

Since the 1940’s the microdensity of our foods has been declining. And one of these declining micronutrients is magnesium.  In our modern day lives it is not so easy to obtain magnesium sources due to depleted soil conditions which result in less magnesium being available from the plant foods we eat.

1. Soil depletion, results in minerals being no longer available and the percentage of magnesium in our food sources has decreased. In turn less magnesium is available in our meat sources due to animals feeding on these magnesium deficient plant sources. The loss of magnesium in foods can also be attributed to food refining and processing.

2. Also, exposure to chemicals such as chlorine and fluoride in our water supply makes magnesium naturally less available as these chemicals bind to magnesium preventing it’s availability for our bodies.

girl with water glass

3. To make matters worse, many of our common dietary habits like drinking coffee and the over consumption of soft drinks and sugar filled foods deplete the body’s levels of magnesium.

4. Common digestive diseases like leaky gut, so prevalent nowadays, can lead to the inability to absorb minerals which includes magnesium. And as we get older our mineral absorption capabilities tends to decline leading to a higher possibility of a deficiency.

5. The proliferation of chronic illness and medication used for symptom relief nowadays is high. Many chronic illnesses are linked with magnesium deficiency and a decrease in mineral absorption. If you take medications regularly they can damage your gut and add to malabsorption issues. Medications such as diuretics can also cause the kidneys to excrete magnesium via the urine.

 

What Is Magnesium’s Role In The Body?

Magnesium plays an important role in the body and is involved in more than 600 enzymatic processes. It is an essential ion supporting mineral for maintaining good health, in fact, all of your cells need magnesium to function well.

Magnesium helps maintain normal muscle and nerve function and maintains a normal heartbeat. In conjunction with other vitamins and minerals it helps keep your bones strong and it also assists with building a healthy immune system. It helps with the production of protein and energy and helps keep blood glucose levels on an even keel.

8 Ways Your Body Uses Magnesium 

  • MUSCLES – Helps in the movement, contraction and relaxation of muscles.
  • NERVES – Helps maintain normal nerve function.
  • BRAIN – Has a critical role in regulating neurotransmitters, brain function and mood.
  • IMMUNE SYSTEM – Supports a healthy immune system.
  • BONES – Helps bones remain strong.
  • BLOOD GLUCOSE – Assists in adjusting blood glucose levels.
  • ENERGY – Aids in the production of energy from food.
  • GENES –  Helps in the creation and repair of DNA.

 

What Food Is Highest In Magnesium?

The good news is there are several good food sources of magnesium you can include in a natural healthy diet. Nuts and seeds are the richest sources, however whole grains, legumes and leafy green vegetables are also good natural sources of magnesium

Adding more of the following foods regularly will increase your magnesium levels:

  • SEEDS – Pumpkin seeds, Flax seeds, Sunflower seeds.
  • NUTS – Hazelnuts, Cashews, Almonds.
  • LEGUMES – Black beans.
  • WHOLE GRAINS – Oats, Quinoa.
  • COCOA – Dark chocolate, Raw cacao.
  • VEGETABLES – Avocados, Spinach, Chard.
  • OILY FISH – Salmon, Mackerel.

As you can see from this food list there are lots of yummy foods high in magnesium that can be easily incorporated into your diet. And many of these food types can be incorporated to make inexpensive meals and snacks. A handful of raw nuts or seeds with a piece of fruit each day makes a healthy magnesium rich snack.

And topping up your magnesium levels is a guilt free reason to enjoy a small amount of dark chocolate regularly. I had a friend who during pregnancy had uncontrollable cravings for chocolate which pre- pregnancy she didn’t eat.

Unfortunately, she gained a substantial amount of pregnancy weight probably from all the sugar in the chocolate bars she was regularly chowing down on. If only I had known about magnesium then, it might have helped with her cravings and avoiding all that extra weight she struggled to shift after the birth.

Try a hearty and healthy lentil and tomato soup.

lentil and tomato soup

 

Or make a poke bowl with quinoa as a base and add some beans, avocado and tofu. A green salad of spinach and chard on the side will add even more magnesium power

blue bowl with quinoa

 

Morning oatmeal is also a good magnesium source and keeps you full until lunchtime. Scatter some nuts and seeds on top to amp up the magnesium content even further. 

oatmeal bowl

 

Try this recipe for gluten free almond seed crackers which incorporates nuts and seeds in a tasty and crunchy low carb cracker. Try them with some hummus for an easy way to add magnesium into your healthy snacks.

seed crackers in a bowl

 

How Much Magnesium Do You Need Each Day?

Relative to other nutrients, our bodies require only small amounts of magnesium. But our stores of magnesium need to be topped up each day as the body uses it in normal daily activities like producing hormones, maintaining our heartbeat and when using our muscles for exercise and as go about our normal routine each day.

As well as being an important mineral, magnesium is also an electrolyte with the kidneys controlling the levels of magnesium by excreting it along with other electrolytes. Magnesium helps regulate many different biochemical reactions along with other electrolytes in the body.

The table below from the National Institutes Of Health shows the recommended Daily Allowances for magnesium. As you can see the general guide for women is 320 per day mg increasing to 360 mg a day during pregnancy.

 
Age Male Female Pregnancy Lactation
Birth to 6 months 30 mg* 30 mg*
7–12 months 75 mg* 75 mg*
1–3 years 80 mg 80 mg
4–8 years 130 mg 130 mg
9–13 years 240 mg 240 mg
14–18 years 410 mg 360 mg 400 mg 360 mg
19–30 years 400 mg 310 mg 350 mg 310 mg
31–50 years 420 mg 320 mg 360 mg 320 mg
51+ years 420 mg 320 mg

Magnesium Supplements Do You Need One + Which Types Are Best?

If you eat a healthy diet do you need to take a supplement? Obviously the first thing to do is check your diet and make adjustments to ensure you are including plenty of natural food sources of magnesium in your daily diet.

But, if you feel you may be deficient in magnesium and are unable to get enough of this important mineral from your diet, supplementation can help enormously.

My own experience has shown me that I do better by adding a magnesium supplement despite the fact I eat a healthy and magnesium rich diet. It helps me sleep better, and assists with leg cramps, restless legs and tight neck and shoulder muscles. I’ve come to the conclusion that some people have higher requirements for magnesium than others.

The type of magnesium supplement you choose is important as they aren’t all created equal. The way different types of magnesium supplements are absorbed varies. In general, forms of magnesium easily dissolved in liquid are shown to be better absorbed by your gut.

Studies find that magnesium oxide and magnesium sulphate are more poorly absorbed. While magnesium chloride, lactate, citrate and aspartate are better absorbed and therefore more readily bioavailable.

But, one thing I’ve personally experienced about magnesium supplementation is some forms can be harsh on your system causing unpleasant gastrointestinal symptoms.

After trying various different types, the best form of magnesium supplement I’ve found is magnesium lysinate. This type is often used instead of others as it is a super easy form your body can readily absorb and use. It is also gentle on the stomach and unlike other forms of magnesium doesn’t cause any nasty upset stomach or loose stools.

 

Putting It All Together

A surprisingly high percentage of people could unknowingly have a magnesium deficiency. Check if you have any of the symptoms listed here. If you think magnesium deficiency could be a cause, adding more magnesium rich foods into your regular diet is a logical step.

For detailed information on the nutrient content of foods and foods with their magnesium content you can find details at the USDA’s Nutrient Database site.

A magnesium supplement may be necessary and if so it is important to take one which can be easily absorbed and used by your body and that doesn’t cause stomach upset.

Please Feel Free To Leave A Comment Below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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32 Comments

  • Travis November 20, 2019 at 2:35 am

    Wow, reading this article it was almost like you were talking directly to me. I’ve never known that it was possible to have magnesium deficiency, but based on the warnings that you listed, I think every one of them is a problem that I have had recently. Thank you for this information, I will focus on increasing my magnesium levels immediately, using your advice as well. Thank you so much for the help! 

    • Ann November 20, 2019 at 4:04 am

      Thanks for taking the time to visit and leave a comment. I’m glad this post was informative. Good luck making the changes.

  • Sharon November 20, 2019 at 2:42 am

    I didn’t know magnesium plays such a vital role in our body. Thanks for all the detailed information!

    I hardly have a good night’s sleep nowadays. And the tiredness throughout the day does not help. Not sure if it is caused by magnesium deficiency but I will try changing my diet referring to your food chart. Let’s see if there is any improvement. Meanwhile, I will check out the magnesium lysinate. Thanks again.

    • Ann November 20, 2019 at 4:03 am

      Thanks for stopping by, making some easy changes to your diet can help with all sorts of issues, so I hope it works for you. 

  • Joy gateru November 20, 2019 at 2:45 am

    Wow! What a great article, personally I think I might be a victim of this, I will have to go deeper in this article to learn even more about this magnesium deficiency according to the symptoms, I am sure to subscribe to your newsfeed to learn more about this and other related articles, I like the way you present your content simple and free flow in information, I believe anyone can understand, I really appreciate your efforts in sharing this post with the public, it will be of great help to many.

    Thank you.

    • Ann November 20, 2019 at 4:02 am

      Thanks very much for your kind words about my content style, I hope it IS easily understandable and informative, both things I try to achieve. 

  • Raff November 20, 2019 at 2:46 am

    Hey Ann! 

    This article is super informative! Even though I’m generally against jumping on board the supplement train, I’m constantly telling my friends to get their magnesium levels checked or to try taking some magnesium supplements to see if their symptoms improve (probably to the point of sounding a bit fanatical)- just because I personally know how much it can change things! I constantly struggled with restless muscles, twitching and aching and found that as soon as I started actively trying to up my intake of magnesium at the suggestion of my doctor (nuts are my favourite source, but I do take a supplement as well) my symptoms vastly decreased. 

    Thanks for the super informative article!

    • Ann November 20, 2019 at 4:00 am

      Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to leave a comment. Yes I find taking a supplement helps me with muscle cramps and restless legs at night. 

  • Kara November 20, 2019 at 2:48 am

    My mom told me about taking magnesium for my anxiety a while back and I never took the time to research it until now. I never thought that something so simple could really help with such a serious problem. I think I may try to increase my intake of the foods you have listed here that are high in magnesium and see if I can tell any difference. 

    I am going to do a little more research on how magnesium can positively affect symptoms of anxiety, I might be back!

    • Ann November 20, 2019 at 3:59 am

      I am someone who seems to need quite a bit of magnesium and find that as well as including magnesium rich foods in my diet I also take a magnesium supplement. It definitely helps me feel more calm and helps with muscle cramps too. Thanks for leaving your comment and good luck with adding some more magnesium rich foods into your diet, I hope it helps with your anxiety.

  • Paul November 20, 2019 at 2:58 am

    This is a very informative post and I really enjoyed it very much. I was once a bit of a health nut but in  recent times have become distracted and don’t look after my body as well as perhaps I could. Interesting when it comes to why there is a lack of magnesium in our foods that we as humans are ultimately responsible. Which is a sad state of affairs  I suffer from a few of the symptoms you mentioned and I’m determined to improve my diet thanks to reading your article. Thanks so much

    • Ann November 20, 2019 at 3:56 am

      Glad to hear my article is useful to you and good luck adding a few of these magnesium sources into your diet. Thanks for commenting.

  • Henry November 20, 2019 at 3:04 am

    We’re a bit concerned about our grandma because she has developed magnesium deficiency. I didn’t know it is involved in more than 600 enzymatic processes. But what worries me more is what you have mentioned in this post, that it plays a critical role in regulating neurotransmitters, brain function and mood.

    She loves oil fish, so I’ll make sure that from here on there is plenty of Salmon and Mackerel in her diet.

    • Ann November 20, 2019 at 3:55 am

      Luckily there are plenty of foods people love that are good magnesium sources. Thanks for your comment, and hope your grandma is able to fix her deficiency soon by including some of these yummy foods in her diet.

  • Ann November 20, 2019 at 3:05 am

    I greatly appreciate this table you included here on your post about how much magnesium we need each day. We need less than men. But when we’re pregnant, then we need more. I love Hazelnuts, Almonds, Pumpkin seeds, Dark chocolate and Raw cacao. But from here on I’ll have the perfect excuse to ask for them. Thanks!

    • Ann November 20, 2019 at 3:53 am

      Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to leave a comment. As you say, luckily there are some yummy foods that are good sources of magnesium, a great excuse to add more of them to your diet. 

  • Shifts November 20, 2019 at 4:13 am

    Oops! It is so alarming that a large number of Americans and even a large number of persons around the world are consuming less than the estimated average requirement of magnesium each day and are magnesium deficient without knowing. Even bad water fights against magnesium availability in our bodies. This is not good.

    • Ann November 20, 2019 at 11:46 am

      Thanks for your comment. Sadly many people probably display symptoms which could easily be resolved if they knew. 

  • Benson November 21, 2019 at 4:03 am

    Hello Ann, I wonder how great God is when i learn about these things and how we humans can still be alive when we may be lacking some really essential mineral in our body. Realizing how important magnesium is i wouldn’t joke with my nuts and dark chocolate anymore because those are the most easily accessible food items for me. Some people actually add chlorine to their water for purification purposes and it’s seem to be having a two way effect which we should take cognizance of.

    • Ann November 21, 2019 at 5:30 am

      I agree, chocolates and nuts are definitely two of the yummy foods you can eat for magnesium. Unfortunately both can be pretty high in calories too…… sigh!

  • julzdk November 21, 2019 at 4:13 am

    Whoa, this blog post on Magnesium Deficiency symptoms is hitting close to home for me! I already have multiple prescription meds I have to take every day for anxiety and depression but I’m not sure any of them help with the fact I always feel fatigued and have no energy. And I also have chronic headaches and when I don’t take my prescription sleeping pills I have insomnia every time! I even get cramps in my leg calfs now and then and usually it wakes me up from sleeping with horrible pain like the muscle is trying to rip itself off my leg bone ;( 

    Thanks for your post it makes me wonder if I just might have Magnesium Deficiency, going to get some vitamins or something. Any suggestions? Thx.

    • Ann November 21, 2019 at 5:28 am

      Thanks for stopping by, I’d check with my doctor before taking any supplements if you are already receiving treatment with prescription meds. 

  • Rodarrick November 24, 2019 at 2:54 am

    One thing I found more baffling here is that, if magnesium was this important to our existence as humans, then why do we consume thongs that makes it detrimental to our health. Magnesium dems like a very germane nutrient and the body needs it heavily. So, I feel there is a need for us all to chip in enough energy to enable us get adequate magnesium. Since you have suggested the best means is by taking supplements, I guess I need to check that out too

    • Ann November 24, 2019 at 7:24 am

      Try upping your intake from the healthy foods mentioned first and see if it makes any difference. 

  • Moi MOI November 24, 2019 at 3:04 am

    Hello Ann,

    I was taking notes the whole time while reading this Excellent article.

    I have many female relatives from who I have heard complaints

    About the symptoms you mentioned. 

    I have already forwarded the information to a few and will follow 

    Up with others about the risk of magnesium deficiency. 

    Thank you for the edification on this important health risk.

    • Ann November 24, 2019 at 7:19 am

      Happy to hear you will pass the information on. 

  • KingAndrea November 24, 2019 at 3:06 am

    Magnesium deficiency is so alarming and it’s really bothering that it doesn’t show until it gets very low which makes it more dangerous to the health not to keep a balance in what we consume as some essentials like magnesium in food might be missing out. Thanks for sharing the symptoms, also for stating out clearly the best foods that contains magnesium, I’ll definitely as this to my food list. Thanks for the educative article.

    • Ann November 24, 2019 at 7:16 am

      Thanks for the kind words, good to hear you found the info useful and informative.

  • Wildecoll November 24, 2019 at 3:27 am

    This is a very educative article, i believe it actually isn’t meant foe women alone, it can fit in for men too. We affect our health sometimes by virtue of what we engage in when we claim to be improving our health, foe instance, some diets we engage in might require us to to eat some of these foods that contains magnesium, so it’s always a good idea to have a very good knowledge of whatever plan we’re going into for our health.

    • Ann November 24, 2019 at 7:12 am

      You are right of course, magnesium deficiency can affect men too. The way to fix it by adding some magnesium rich foods or by supplementation is the same for both. 

  • Renea November 24, 2019 at 7:46 am

    I did not know all of what I just read about Magnesium. It’s scary to think about it, but we need to, especially when having symptoms: anxiety, insomnia, cramps, fatigue, headaches. I have all of those and have been diagnosed with sarcoidosis on the brain since 2015, after reading your article I checked and the doctors have not checked my magnesium since 2017. Thank you for this, I will be looking into this more, Thank you!

    Blessings,

    Renea

    • Ann November 24, 2019 at 8:23 am

      Thanks for leaving a comment, it is appreciated and good to hear you’ll be getting a magnesium level test from your Doc. 

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