Your body needs the mineral magnesium. The mineral is an electrolyte, which just means it carries a charge. It works with other electrolytes like calcium, sodium, and potassium. They all work together for bone development, blood pressure regulation, energy production, and more. Low magnesium is called hypomagnesemia and it’s not often caught by medical professionals until it is severely low. That’s because many of the signs don’t appear until it is extremely low.
Is my magnesium low and what causes it?
Every organ in your body needs magnesium. This includes the heart, kidneys, and muscles. It’s also needed for many bodily functions. Magnesium has a role in both chemical and physical processes in the body that help it convert and use energy. When magnesium is low, you may start to exhibit many symptoms. One of these is fatigue. Since fatigue can be caused by so many different deficiencies, low magnesium is underdiagnosed. It’s not the first thing a medical professional looks for. Some of the other signs of low magnesium include:
- Loss of appetite
- Shaking or shaking
- Muscle spasms
- Abnormal heart rhythms
- Increased blood pressure
- Joint pain
One of the problems with having low magnesium is that it causes problems with other electrolytes. For example, it may cause low potassium levels which can cause numerous other medical issues. Because it can cause increased blood pressure, untreated low magnesium can result in higher risk of developing problems like coronary artery disease, congestive heart failure, and other heart problems.
Generally, healthy people will not have to worry about low magnesium. But even though it is rare, doesn’t mean it can’t happen. It can be the result of:
- Digestive problems like Crohn’s disease
- Kidney problems
- Type 2 diabetes
- Long-term diarrhea (caused by a viral infection or a virus)
- Long-term use of diuretics and other medications
- Poor diet (usually in the elderly who do not eat enough)
- Celiac disease or other conditions that prohibit proper absorption
- Prolonged vomiting such as caused by a viral infection
Groups More Susceptible to Low Magnesium
There are two groups of people that may be more at risk for low magnesium. As people age, their appetite often decreases which means they have lower nutritional intake. Also, as the body ages normally, it loses some of its ability to absorb nutrients. Chronic diseases that require medications that can deplete magnesium levels in the body are more likely to affect older adults.
Another group that is susceptible to low magnesium include infants and children. Younger people are more vulnerable to developing electrolyte imbalances because of dehydration. Electrolyte imbalances can lead to lower magnesium.
Improving Magnesium Absorption
Various conditions and some nutrients affect how the body absorbs magnesium. There are a few things you can do to help improve the way your body absorbs this mineral. Calcium can inhibit the absorption of magnesium. Avoid eating calcium-rich foods a couple of hours before eating foods rich in magnesium. If you have a deficiency of vitamin D, treating it can improve how the body absorbs magnesium. Eating your vegetables raw instead of cooking them can help. If you smoke, quitting can help improve your overall health as well as helping your body absorb adequate amounts of magnesium.
Getting Magnesium from Foods
Magnesium occurs naturally in many different food sources including both plant and animal sources. Seeds and nuts have the most magnesium content, but beans, leafy green vegetables, and whole grains are good sources too. Some magnesium-rich foods to include in your regular diet includes:
- Pumpkin seeds
- Dark chocolate
- Chia seeds
Processed foods and breakfast cereals have added magnesium. If you do have a health condition like diabetes that causes your body to lose magnesium, make sure to eat plenty of foods rich in magnesium. Supplements are also a great option.
Preventing Low Magnesium
Taking supplemental magnesium can help prevent low magnesium. Eating a healthy, well-balanced diet that contains magnesium-rich foods like leafy green vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds, can be very helpful. However, consuming a healthy diet doesn’t guarantee you won’t have low magnesium at some time or another. You may want to consider taking magnesium supplements in addition to your diet.
Taking Magnesium Supplements
Your primary care provider may recommend taking magnesium supplements if you have poor absorption or if you suffer from an underlying condition that prevents magnesium absorption. For those over 60, doctors often recommend taking magnesium supplements since absorption tends to decrease as the body ages.
You may want to talk to your doctor about how much supplemental magnesium you should consume. This ensures it will not interfere with any prescribed medications you are taking.
Magnesium supplements come in three formulations:
- Magnesium chloride
- Magnesium citrate
- Magnesium oxide
The body absorbs magnesium from chloride and citrate formulations more efficiently than from the oxide formulation. Taking more than the recommended dosage of magnesium can cause adverse side effects including cramping, nausea, and diarrhea. Magnesium toxicity is a risk for people who have reduced renal function, older adults, and infants who take high dosages of magnesium.
If you think your magnesium is low.
A deficiency in magnesium is treatable, especially if it is detected early. If you are concerned about the possibility of having low magnesium, discuss your concerns with your primary health care provider. They can test magnesium levels to make sure. Your doctor may recommend taking supplements to help treat or prevent magnesium deficiencies.
Most supplements contain a wide range of the vitamins and minerals necessary for healthy living. At Envura, you’ll find high-quality supplements that contain the recommended daily amounts (RDA) for magnesium and other vitamins and minerals you need. Taking supplements from Envura and eating a well-rounded diet that includes fiber-rich foods like spinach and nuts is likely sufficient to maintain proper levels of magnesium in your body. In a month's supply of Envura's vitamin boxes, Envura includes 200 mg of magnesium bisglycinate in a chelated form within each daily pack. Improving your diet, reducing your consumption of alcohol, and making healthy lifestyle changes are great ways to help your body maintain adequate amounts of magnesium and other vitamins and minerals necessary for good health.