Hypomagnesemia is the official, scientific name for Magnesium deficiency. It is mostly overlooked by people all over the world. While fewer than two percent of Americans have such a deficiency, up to 75 percent are not meeting their recommended daily intake of magnesium.
Unfortunately, unlike illnesses such as the cold or a flu which can throw symptoms at a person with full force, the obvious signs of magnesium deficiency commonly don’t appear until your levels reach a very low point. Magnesium doesn’t frequent the health blogs in the same way that omega 3s or iron do. So like its nondescript symptoms, the mineral itself is often forgotten in our day-to-day. Before we share the signs of deficiency, let’s figure out what magnesium does and why you actually need it.
Why Magnesium Matters for Fitness
Magnesium is part of a core group of actions, elements and nutrients that our bodies need for optimal fitness, such as stretching, water, calcium, iron and magnesium. New research suggests that having low amounts of magnesium can result in poor athletic performance. Magnesium plays a significant role in energy production in the body and without it, performance in and out of the gym can suffer.
Magnesium is involved in more than 300 bodily processes. According to The National Institutes of Health, these include muscle building and nerve function, blood sugar control and blood pressure regulation. In a French study, researchers found that men with magnesium in their systems had a 40 percent lower risk of death. Lower magnesium levels seem have a correlative relationship with inflammation, which is the starting point for both heart disease and cancer.
How much magnesium do you need and where do you get it?
The Institute of Medicine recommends consuming 400 to 420 milligrams of magnesium per day. Magnesium is easiest to consume in the form of supplements, but there are a handful of foods that you can include as part of your daily diet to make sure you get enough of it too.
These foods include:
- Swiss Chard: leafy, green and good with olive oil, salt and pepper
- Almonds and Cashews: always good snacks to keep on hand
- Spinach: It’s not a trendy as Kale, but it’ll still help. It’s delicious in a salad with salt and pepper
- Amaranth: An ancient grain that is high in fiber, protein and vitamins
- Mackerel: This fish packed with omega-3 is great with olive oil, salt and pepper
- Sesame Seeds: These little grains are good on burger buns, salads, by the handful or with anything, really
- Salmon: A delicious fish that’s good in any way, shape or form
- Brazil Nuts: These are packed with magnesium
- Pumpkin Seeds: They’re good for snacking anytime
Signs You May Have a Magnesium Deficiency
Although symptoms can sometimes be hard to attribute to magnesium deficiency, here are four signs that you should check out (or try upping) your magnesium levels.
- Mental Disorders
Mental disorders can sometimes be a sign of a magnesium deficiency. Included in these disorders is Apathy, also known as mental numbness or lack of emotion. Worse symptoms can even include delirium or at the very worst, coma.
Although scientists are speculating that magnesium deficiency might have a causal effect on anxiety, the evidence itself is just as deficient. However, studies have shown that low magnesium levels can lead to an increased risk of depression.
- Twitches and Cramps
While the occasional twitch or cramp isn’t a cause for concern—or can be caused by stress or too much caffeine, some twitches and cramps are a result of a lack of magnesium. Deficiency can even cause seizures or convulsions.
- Fatigue and Weak Muscles
Severe fatigue—not just typical day-to-day exhaustion and muscle weakness, is known as myasthenia and is another symptom of having a magnesium deficiency. Fatigue, which can be non-specific, is best identified with another symptom. Scientists believe muscle weakness, for example, is caused by the loss of potassium in muscle cells, a condition that is commonly associated with magnesium deficiency.
- High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure is never a good sign. In this case, it can be the result of a magnesium deficiency. Recent animal studies have shown that this deficiency can promote high blood pressure—which in turn, can lead to heart disease.
Although direct evidence is lacking for humans, studies have shown that low magnesium and poor diet can ultimately lead to high blood pressure. However, several reviews have found that magnesium supplements might help lower high blood pressure in adults.
Whether your body is lacking magnesium or not, you can give yourself an all-over wellness boost by incorporating nutritious foods and supplements into your diet. By taking proactive steps to improve your health, you can ward off deficiencies and feel your best.