Early signs of magnesium deficiency usually include loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting,  tiredness, and weakness. Although many people are not taking enough magnesium, the deficiency is rare, and symptoms usually show an underlying health condition.

Why do we need magnesium?

Magnesium is a fundamental mineral and electrolyte that act a role in multiple bodily processes, including:

  • bone and teeth structure
  • energy production
  • DNA replication
  • muscle function
  • RNA and protein synthesis
  • nerve function

As such, it is essential that people are taking enough magnesium in their diet every day to stay healthy.

What does magnesium deficiency mean?

The (NHANES) National Health & Nutrition Examination Survey of 2005–2006 discovered that many people in the US were not receiving enough magnesium.

However, the body can maintain proper levels of magnesium, so it is very rare for a person to experience magnesium deficiency symptoms.

Some factors can, however, raise a person’s risk of developing magnesium deficiency symptoms. These include:

  • Having gastrointestinal disorders such as Crohn’s disease, regional enteritis, or celiac disease.
  • Continually eating a low-magnesium diet.
  • Being pregnant and lactating.
  • Losing excessive levels of magnesium through urine and sweat, resulting in drinking too much alcohol or genetic disorders.
  • Being hospitalized.
  • Having type two diabetes.
  • Taking several medications, such as proton pump inhibitors, bisphosphonates, antibiotics and diuretics.
  • Having parathyroid dysfunctions and hyperaldosteronism.
  • Being older.

Long-term magnesium loss may have disadvantageous effects on:

  • brain function
  • digestive system
  • bone density
  • nerve and muscle function

Lack of bone density can be of particular concern. In more youthful people, magnesium deficiency may slow down bone growth. It is required to get an adequate amount of magnesium during childhood when the bones are still growing.

In older people, magnesium deficiency may advance the risk of bone fractures and osteoporosis.


Early signs of magnesium loss may include:

  • weakness
  • vomiting
  • nausea
  • fatigue
  • loss of appetite

As the deficiency advances, people may feel:

  • seizures.
  • abnormal heartbeats.
  • cramps and muscle contractions.
  • lower calcium volumes in the blood, known as hypocalcemia.
  • personality shifts.
  • numbness and tingling in the limbs.
  • lower potassium amounts in the blood called hypokalemia.
  • coronary spasms.

Extended magnesium deficiency can harm a person’s long-term health and raise the risk of chronic diseases, including:

  • osteoporosis.
  • high blood pressure.
  • heart disease.
  • type 2 diabetes.

Anyone who feels any of the above symptoms should consult a doctor for tests to discover the cause.

Diagnosis and recommended dietary allowance (RDA)

Analysis of magnesium deficiency varies between many countries. This is because it is hard to precisely measure the level of magnesium in a person’s body. In the US, doctors consider a person’s dietary consumption to discover their magnesium status.

According to the (NIH) National Institutes of Health, the recommended dietary allowance for people from 19 to 30 years old is:

  • 310mg for females
  • 400mg for males

31 years old or older, the recommended dietary allowance is;

  • 320mg for females
  • 420mg for females

Requirements are more significant in teenagers between 14 and 18 years old, as well as for ladies who are pregnant. Younger children need less magnesium than teenagers and adults.

Foods to consume

It is achievable to reach the RDA for magnesium by consuming foods that carry high levels of magnesium, such as green vegetables, whole grains, fruits, legumes, and cereals.

Some foods rich in magnesium, ordered from highest to lowest magnesium content, include:

  • nuts, mainly almonds, cashews, peanuts
  • spinach
  • black beans
  • edamame
  • peanut butter
  • whole wheat bread
  • avocado
  • potato
  • rice
  • yogurt
  • fortified cereals and other food

Other foods providing magnesium include:

  • oatmeal
  • banana and apples
  • kidney beans
  • broccoli and carrot
  • fish, such as salmon and halibut
  • raisins
  • chicken breast
  • milk
  • beef

When magnesium levels are below, the body uses extra magnesium from the small intestine, while decreasing the amount that is excreted by the kidneys.

Suggestions for improving magnesium absorption

Certain nutrients and circumstances can influence how much magnesium a person receives. People requiring to improve their magnesium levels by raising absorption could try:

  • reducing or bypassing calcium-rich foods two hours before or after consuming magnesium-rich foods
  • treating vitamin D deficiency
  • quitting smoking
  • avoiding high-dose of zinc supplements
  • consuming raw vegetables instead of cooking them