What is magnesium deficiency?

Although magnesium is naturally found in a wide variety of foods, many dietary surveys show that it is eaten in less than recommended amounts. However, these deficiency levels are marginal and not likely to produce symptoms. The body also helps to preserve magnesium levels when stores are low by limiting the amount excreted in urine and absorbing more magnesium in the gut.

A severe magnesium deficiency occurs with a long-term low magnesium diet, malabsorption, and large losses from alcohol abuse or use of medications that deplete magnesium. Severe magnesium deficiency can cause hypocalcemia (low calcium levels) or hypokalemia (low potassium levels).

Common magnesium deficiency symptoms:

  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Poor appetite
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Numbness
  • Tingling in skin
  • Muscle cramps
  • Seizures
  • Irregular heart rate
  • Personality changes

What causes a magnesium deficiency?

  • A diet lacking in magnesium-rich foods
  • Alcohol dependence
  • Old age
  • Celiac disease
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Insulin resistance 
  • Uncontrolled diabetes

Further reading: Harvard School of Public Health, National Institutes of Health (1),(2)