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Six Symptoms That May Indicate A Magnesium Deficiency

It is an essential micronutrient for energy metabolism, heart health, solid bones, muscle function and hormonal balance: magnesium. The cells cannot produce the electrolyte themselves, so the body is dependent on an external supply. A magnesium deficiency manifests itself through various symptoms.

The Effects Of Magnesium In The Body

Magnesium attaches to proteins and thus supports the work of various enzymes. It influences the membrane of the body cells and supports the exchange of information between nerve and muscle cells. Conversely, if the organism has too little magnesium available, the processes are impaired. Deficiency symptoms with possible reduced performance and muscle dysfunction are the result.

Possible Symptoms Of Magnesium Deficiency

Probably the most well-known symptoms of magnesium deficiency: muscle cramps or twitches, for example, in the calves. However, a defect becomes noticeable in other, diverse ways. Affected people might not attribute the symptoms to it spontaneously, but the following signs may also be related:

  • Indigestion
  • Uneasiness
  • Racing heart
  • headache
  • irritability
  • persistent exhaustion

The problem can have more severe consequences. Last but not least, the heart is also a muscle that has to contract constantly to keep the body alive – a severe magnesium deficiency can, therefore, in the worst case, even be life-threatening.

A potassium deficiency often accompanies a magnesium deficiency. Blood tests should always check this. 

How Much Magnesium Do Adults Need Every Day?

It should be 300 to 400 milligrams a day in healthy adults. Often this value is not achieved due to poor eating habits, as reported by the “consumer advice center.”

A balanced diet can easily reach the amount of 300 milligrams per day. A dietary supplement with magnesium is not fundamentally recommended due to the possible side effects (see below).

Various doctors (especially the elderly) advise taking magnesium through dietary supplements. However, a magnesium deficiency is not uncommon in athletes with high sweat loss and heavy muscle strain. During heat training, around 200 to 300 milligrams of magnesium should be consumed per day (magnesium aspartate for better absorption of the small intestine).

An optimal supply of magnesium should be ensured, i.e. there should be neither a deficiency nor an oversupply. Not every athlete (amateur athlete) needs additional magnesium. Muscle cramps in athletes are also often not due to a magnesium deficiency but rather to an overload (signs of fatigue). In general, an additional magnesium intake is recommended for athletes who train more than twelve hours a week or who do a very muscle-intensive sport. 

Does Magnesium Make You More Efficient?

From a scientific point of view, there is no question that athletes who are permanently optimally supplied with magnesium are more efficient – Professor Nicolai Worm confirms this. In his work as a qualified nutritionist, he dealt intensively with sports nutrition. He explained: “Magnesium stimulates the production of red blood cells, which are responsible for transporting oxygen to the muscles.”

The electrolyte and calcium must be in a balanced ratio so that the muscles can reliably tense and relax. This makes you more efficient during the workout and also supports the regeneration phase. But not only in the case of athletes, but there are also many arguments in favour of taking magnesium in general. Dr. Worm relies on long-term observational studies showing that a good supply of magnesium protects the entire cardiovascular system.

To get this value, a balanced diet – including fresh vegetables and other natural sources of magnesium – is the alpha and omega. Whether you have to swallow capsules depends above all on the current phase of life. Anyone who is very busy at work travels a lot or cannot guarantee a healthy, balanced diet for other reasons can do well with a capsule. There are no side effects. If you exceed the manufacturer’s dosage recommendation, you may get diarrhea.

Preventing Magnesium Deficiency – Foods With A High Content

It is ideal for taking in magnesium naturally through food. Magnesium is abundant in nuts, whole grain products, green vegetables and lettuce, in pumpkin and sunflower seeds. Here is a selection of foods high in magnesium (per 100 grams):

  • Pumpkin seeds: approx. 535 mg
  • Wheat bran: approx. 500 mg
  • Sunflower seeds: approx. 420 mg
  • Flaxseed: approx. 350 mg
  • Almonds: approx. 250 mg
  • Whole grain bread: approx. 150 mg
  • Oat flakes: approx. 140 mg
  • Mineral water with a high magnesium content: 100 mg/litre

Does Magnesium Help With A Hangover?

There is at least a short-term magnesium deficiency if you have had a particularly boozy night behind you. Large amounts of alcohol affect the kidneys, causing an increased urge to urinate, which flushes out water and plenty of minerals at the same time. Therefore, a lack of magnesium supply and typical hangover symptoms – headache, exhaustion, and more – are closely related. “Magnesium also helps against nightly muscle cramps as a result of excessive alcohol consumption,” confirms Dr. Worm. Taking a capsule at bedtime can help prevent symptoms.

Potential Risks Of Magnesium Overdose

However, in addition to the essential functions of magnesium, excessive ingestion can also lead to serious side effects. This can lead to severe gastrointestinal problems (severe diarrhea, vomiting and the corresponding subsequent deficiencies). Furthermore, as a divalent cation in the intestine, magnesium competes with iron absorption, so that an increased magnesium intake can lead to an iron deficiency. This, in turn, can lead to anemia. This is especially important for the elderly. It is not uncommon for anemia in the elderly to be caused by an overdose of magnesium. 


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