Magnesium Deficiency: Do You Need To Take Magnesium Tablets?

You may have heard of magnesium, but did you realise it is one of the most important minerals for the body? It plays an important role in bone health but also hundreds of metabolic processes in cells and organs. It has a particularly important role supporting normal heart and nervous system functioning, such as blood pressure. Magnesium also helps regulate blood sugar levels.

Approximately 50 to 60 percent of the magnesium in the body is found in bone. The rest is contained within tissues and organs. A very small percentage is found in the blood, just one percent, but it is vitally important that this blood level of magnesium is stable, and many other actions within the body are geared around keeping that one percent consistent.

Why does magnesium deficiency occur?

Given magnesium is such an important mineral, it’s good to be aware of the potential of deficiency to determine whether magnesium tablets or changes to dietary habits may be necessary. Magnesium deficiency is not common, as there are many different food sources for magnesium. It can occur though, if people have a particularly monocular diet, experience excessive stress or maybe taking certain pharmaceutical medicines that cause the body to use up more magnesium than normal.

Magnesium is absorbed from food in the small intestines, and transported via the blood to cells, to eventually be secreted by the kidneys. People with compromised digestion and poor kidney health are more likely to have problems with magnesium deficiency. If the kidneys are functioning well, and the dietary intake of magnesium is low, they can release less magnesium to help maintain appropriate levels within the body. If the kidneys are functioning less than optimally, they cannot play this “safeguard” role in relation to magnesium levels. With regard to digestive disorders, for example, people with Crohn’s disease, there may be a problem absorbing magnesium from food. If you have been unwell and experiencing prolonged periods of vomiting or diarrhoea this can also lead to magnesium deficiency.

Situations where you may lose excess magnesium from the urine include:

–      side effect of some medicines,

–      drinking alcohol to excess, and

–      poorly-managed diabetes (unstable blood sugar and insulin levels).

Symptoms of magnesium deficiency

Though for most people a magnesium deficiency is unlikely, if you are concerned, here are some symptoms to watch out for:

–      Loss of appetite

–      Nausea, vomiting

–      Fatigue, muscle weakness

–      Numbness, tingling

–      Muscle contractions, cramps, seizures 

–      Personality changes (a response to changed electrical activity in the brain)

–      Abnormal heart rhythms, heart spasms

–      Low blood calcium levels (hypocalcemia)

–      Low blood potassium levels (hypokalemia)

These symptoms of magnesium deficiency can also indicate other conditions so the symptom profile is not a clear way to establish whether you are experiencing a magnesium deficiency.

Food sources of magnesium

Some of the food sources of magnesium include: the germ of most grains, such as wheatgerm, unrefined oats (not instant) and brown rice; spinach, almonds, Brasil and cashew nuts; many varieties of beans, peas, and other legumes; dairy products; raw chocolate or cacao; bananas; and avocado. Adding these foods to your diet on a regular basis can help ensure you get enough magnesium.

If you have any questions or concerns about your magnesium levels always consult with a qualified health practitioner.

Katherine West is a health freak and freelance writer who in 2003 studied for a Diploma of Nutrition. She is also into yoga and pilates.

Image Credit: 1, 2, 3, 4.

Find more diabetes related posts:

  • The Role Of Magnesium In The Body
  • The Four Most Important Functions Of Magnesium
  • Best Diabetic Diet – 3 Reasons to Turn into a Vegetarian
  • Alternative Treatments for Diabetes
  • Subscribe in a reader

    Enter your email address:

    Leave a Reply