Updated: Aug 4, 2021
According to population studies on magnesium intake, there’s a good chance that you might have magnesium deficiency. Less than 30% of U.S. adults consume the RDA of magnesium (Recommended Daily Allowance). About 20% get daily half of the magnesium they need to remain healthy.
One way of assessing your magnesium status is to get a magnesium testing. Yet typical blood serum testing can be misleading as only 1% of magnesium in the body is actually found in blood.
What else can you do? You can for sure watch for certain signs of low magnesium levels. Symptoms of poor magnesium intake can include muscle cramps, facial tics, poor sleep, and chronic pain.
Let's have a look at few things which may cause magnesium deficiency:
1. Drinking regularly carbonated beverages
Most carbonated sodas contain phosphates which bind with magnesium inside the digestive tract, rendering it unavailable to the body. So even if you eat a balanced diet, drinking soda will flush magnesium out of your system.
2. Regularly eating pastries, cakes, desserts, candies or other sweet foods
Refined sugar causes the body to excrete magnesium through the kidneys. The more sweet foods and processed baked goods you have in your diet, the more likely you are deficient in magnesium and other vital nutrients.
3. Stress, or a major medical procedure such as surgery
Studies have shown that adrenaline and cortisol (byproducts of the “fight or flight” reaction associated with stress and anxiety) are associated with decreased magnesium. Because stressful conditions require more magnesium use by the body, all such conditions may lead to deficiency, including both psychological and physical forms of stress such as surgery, burns, and chronic disease.
4. Daily consumption of coffee, tea, or other caffeinated drinks
The kidneys control your magnesium levels (along with other minerals). They filter and excrete excess magnesium. Caffeine causes the kidneys to release extra magnesium regardless of body's magnesium levels, increasing your risk for magnesium deficiency.
5. Diuretics, heart or asthma medication, birth control pills or estrogen replacement therapy
The effects of certain drugs reduce magnesium levels in the body by increasing magnesium loss through excretion by the kidneys.
6. Regular alcohol consumption
Studies have shown that alcohol consumption has similar effect on magnesium levels as diuretics: It increases the excretion of magnesium by the kidneys. High amount of alcohol intake (more than a drink a day) contributes to Vitamin D deficiency which also contributes to low magnesium levels.
7. Calcium supplements without magnesium or with magnesium less than a 1:1 ratio
Studies have shown that when magnesium intake is low, calcium supplementation may reduce magnesium absorption and retention. And, whereas calcium supplementation can have negative effects on magnesium levels, magnesium supplementation actually improves the body’s use of calcium.
Researchers support a 1:1 calcium to magnesium ratio for improved bone support and reduced risk of disease. This is due not only to the increased evidence pointing to widespread magnesium deficiency, but also concerns over the risk of arterial calcification when low magnesium stores are coupled with high calcium intake.
8. Neurological signs of magnesium deficiency
Do you experience any of the following?
Difficulty falling asleep
Difficulty staying asleep
Adequate magnesium is necessary for nerve conduction and is also associated with electrolyte imbalances that affect the nervous system. Low magnesium is also associated with personality changes and often causes depression.
9. Neuromuscular symptoms of magnesium deficiency
Do you experience any of the following?
Painful muscle spasms
Eye twitches, or involuntary eye movements
Magnesium and calcium have actions that oppose one another, yet they function as a team. Magnesium is a required element for muscle relaxation. Calcium, on the other hand, signals muscles to contract.
Without magnesium, our muscles would be in a constant state of contraction.
Involuntary muscle movements may indicate either calcium or magnesium deficiency, or both.
10. Do you experience any of the above and are also age 55 or older?
Older adults are particularly vulnerable to low magnesium status. It has been shown that aging, stress and disease all contribute to increasing magnesium needs, yet most older adults actually take in less magnesium from food sources than when they were younger. In addition, magnesium metabolism may be less efficient as we grow older, as changes the GI tract and kidneys contribute to older adults absorbing less and retaining less magnesium.
If you are above 55 and also showing lifestyle signs or symptoms related to low magnesium, it’s particularly important that you work to improve your magnesium intake. When body stores of magnesium run low, risks of overt hypomagnesaemia (magnesium deficiency) increase significantly.