CAUSES AND EFFECTS OF MAGNESIUM DEFICIENCY
A magnesium deficiency can produce a wide range of symptoms, such as cramps, which are quite common and can attack the muscles with lightning speed. Almost everyone has experienced this at some point in their life. These muscle cramps often occur in the calves. However, tension in the shoulder and neck area and eyelid twitching can also be signs of a magnesium deficiency. Cardiac arrhythmia, migraine attacks or tension headaches can also be caused by a lack of magnesium.
WHAT IS A MAGNESIUM DEFICIENCY?
The medical term for magnesium deficiency is hypomagnesaemia, which refers to low levels of magnesium in the blood. A normal serum magnesium level is between 0.85 and 1.1 mol/l. Levels below 0.85 mmol/l indicate a magnesium deficiency.
A person may still have a deficiency even if serum magnesium levels are normal. The body has mechanisms to compensate for low levels of magnesium in the blood, such as releasing magnesium from the bones.
Decreased serum magnesium levels are therefore not the first sign of a lower total level of magnesium in the body. Instead, we need to watch for symptoms if a deficiency is suspected.
WHAT ARE THE SIGNS OF MAGNESIUM DEFICIENCY?
Magnesium deficiency leads to increased excitability of the muscles and nerves, which manifests in different ways.
The following symptoms may be an indication of magnesium deficiency:
Muscle and leg cramps as well as cramps in the hands, feet and toes are typical symptoms of magnesium deficiency. They often occur at night. The older we get, the more likely we are to experience leg cramps, which is why older patients tend to report these symptoms more often.
Muscle tension is an indication of increased tension in the body and is usually related to stress and anxiety.
A lack of magnesium results in uncontrollable muscle movements. This results in muscle spasms leading to involuntary eye twitching. They can also affect entire areas of the face.
Magnesium deficiency leads to over-excitability of the muscles and nerve fibres. This results in tension in the shoulder and neck area, which can then trigger tension headaches or migraines.
Feelings of anxiety and nervousness are not usually associated with magnesium deficiency. Nonetheless, they may be a sign of it. Magnesium is involved in the regulation of stress hormones. A deficiency may therefore lead to increased adrenaline production, resulting in irritability, anxiety or nervousness.
Magnesium also plays a key role in heart function. The mineral helps the heart muscle relax, which is why a magnesium deficiency may also be a risk factor for cardiac arrhythmia, which can manifest as an accelerated heart rate or palpitations.
There is a proven link between magnesium and high blood pressure: The mineral influences blood pressure by relaxing the cells of the vascular muscles and suppressing the release of the stress hormone adrenaline, which causes blood pressure to rise. For this reason, a magnesium deficiency can promote high blood pressure (hypertension).
HOW DOES MAGNESIUM DEFICIENCY OCCUR?
Like the symptoms, the causes of magnesium deficiency can vary widely. Since the mineral is involved in over 600 processes in the human body, it is important to know: When can magnesium deficiency occur? The causes can be grouped into four categories: reduced magnesium intake through food, an increased requirement due to physical activity, impaired magnesium absorption and increased elimination – the latter two are usually related to illness. Just one of these four causes is enough to lead to a significant magnesium deficiency that may affect our performance.
WHAT ARE THE EFFECTS OF MAGNESIUM DEFICIENCY?
In addition to acute symptoms like cramps and tension, a magnesium deficiency can also lead to other outcomes in different areas of our body and, in some cases, long-term effects. A less noticeable but more dangerous consequence of magnesium deficiency is the way it affects the heart. A magnesium deficiency can increase the risk of cardiac arrhythmia, which can manifest as palpitations and an irregular heartbeat. Given the key role the mineral plays in many bodily processes, other conditions, such as migraines, PMS and depression, may result.
HOW CAN MAGNESIUM DEFICIENCY BE TREATED?
A magnesium deficiency should not be ignored. In fact, deficiencies in this essential mineral have become so widespread that it needs to be considered in the context of any physical or nervous symptoms.
If symptoms indicate a deficiency, magnesium needs to be administered in order to reach adequate levels. Since it is often impossible to reverse a magnesium deficiency through diet alone, it is recommended to take a high-quality supplement tailored to individual needs.