Magnesium | Benefits, Deficiencies, Sources, Daily Recommendations

Nutrition Specialist, Esra Kozan
June 8, 2022 7 minutes
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  2. The Ultimate Guide To Magnesium

What is Magnesium?

Magnesium is an essential mineral that is functional in over 600 enzyme reactions in the body.  Its plethora of functions include improvement of muscle and nerve function, boosting the immune system, and maintaining blood pressure.

Studies indicate that the adult body possesses about 25 grams of magnesium and that the skeletal system stores about 50-60% of it. However, the rest is in the bodily fluids, soft tissues, and muscles.  Many people around the world aren’t consuming enough magnesium, and this can have adverse effects on their health.

When you talk about essential minerals in the body, magnesium will certainly be mentioned. Given its many aspects of function, its essentiality can’t be overemphasized. It also affords the body several benefits, and the possibility that you may be lacking in this key component shouldn’t be ignored.

What Does Magnesium Do For You?

What doesn’t magnesium do for you! Magnesium is involved in over 600 enzymatic processes in your body. That’s a lot! Magnesium is involved in energy production, protein synthesis, blood pressure regulation, blood glucose regulation, bone health, nerve function, and muscle function. Magnesium is important for your body to function at its best.

pumpkin seeds for magnesium

Why Do We Need Magnesium?

In order for your body to function optimally, it is important to ensure that it is filled with a variety of nutrients. One of those nutrients is magnesium. This essential mineral can be found both in the earth's crust and in the human body. 

It plays a crucial role in supporting your immune system, maintaining strong bones and muscles, and regulating blood sugar and blood pressure levels. However, since there is no way to guarantee that magnesium levels will remain constant in the body, it is important to consume fresh produce and supplements to maintain normal levels.

What Are the Benefits of Magnesium?

Combats Depression

Magnesium is highly functional in the aspect of mood and brain function.  An increased risk of depression is largely dependent on low mood levels. In an analysis of over 8,800 persons, it was discovered that people below the age range of 65 with the lowest magnesium consumption also had a 22% tendency of developing depression.  

Supplementing your diet with foods rich in magnesium could help in reducing the risk of developing depression. In randomized trial research, older adults that consumed at least 450 mg of magnesium daily experienced an improvement in their mood.

Good for Type 2 Diabetes Patients

Magnesium is also beneficial to those suffering from type 2 diabetes. Research indicates that about 50% of type 2 diabetes patients have low levels of magnesium in their bodies. 

This can be quite detrimental as it could affect the insulin's potency of keeping the blood sugar levels in check. Maintaining adequate magnesium levels is crucial for promoting insulin sensitivity, a key factor in managing blood sugar levels.

Furthermore, studies suggest that those with low magnesium levels have a high tendency of developing diabetes, highlighting the importance of magnesium supplementation for blood sugar control in people with diabetes.

Efficient in Lowering Blood Pressure

Research indicates that consuming magnesium regularly can help in lowering blood pressure.  One study revealed that those who consumed 450mg of magnesium daily benefited from a substantial decrease in systolic and diastolic blood pressure.  

It’s imperative to note that this effect may only occur in those who suffer from high blood pressure. Another study showed that magnesium was effective in lowering blood pressure in people that had high blood pressure, yet did not affect those with average levels.

Combats Anti-Inflammation

Chronic inflammation is responsible for speeding up aging, obesity, and several other chronic diseases, and it’s often associated with low magnesium levels.

Supplements that contain an ample amount of magnesium are effective in the reduction of inflammatory markers in obese and older people, and those with prediabetes.  Also, foods rich in magnesium such as dark chocolate and fatty fish are effective in reducing inflammation.

Prevents Migraines

Migraine headaches are painful and highly uncomfortable. They come with nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light and noise.  Some medical researchers believe that migraine sufferers are likely to have low magnesium levels.

almonds for magnesium

How much Magnesium Should be Taken Daily?

The recommended daily intake (RDI) of magnesium for adults is within the range of 320-420 mg.  However, pregnant women who are 18 years and older, are to take within the range of 350-400 mg per day.

Biological Sex Recommended Amount
Male400–420 mg
Female310–320 mg
During pregnancy350–360 mg

What Foods are Highest in Magnesium? 

If you are deficient in magnesium and looking for natural foods to up your intake, you can try these:

Avocados

The avocado fruit is nutritious and provides a rich source of magnesium. A medium-sized avocado contains up to 58 mg of magnesium, and that’s 15% of the RDI. It’s also rich in nutrients such as B vitamins, vitamin K, and potassium.

Legumes

Legumes belong to the nutrient-dense foods family and include chickpeas, beans, lentils, and soybeans, among others.  They too, are a rich source of magnesium.  One cup of cooked black beans contains an impressive 120mg of magnesium, close to half of the RDI.  They are also a rich source of protein and iron.

Whole Grains

A very large number of whole grains are excellent sources of magnesium, fiber, and selenium.  An ounce of dry buckwheat contains up to 65 mg of magnesium, 16% of the RDI.  Grains such as oats, barley, wheat, and pseudocereals which include quinoa and buckwheat, are all rich magnesium sources. 

What Drinks are High in Magnesium?

You probably already know that there are lots of foods out there that have magnesium in them, but did you know that some drinks do too? One of the top choices is almond milk, which is not only a delicious dairy alternative but also rich in magnesium. For a fizzy and refreshing choice, sparkling mineral water is an excellent pick, as it contains naturally occurring magnesium. 

Drinking these types of beverages can help you feel calm and nourished while also getting more magnesium into your system. Knowing about these drinks can be really helpful if you're trying to eat healthy and take care of yourself.

How to Check Magnesium Levels?

One of the safest and most used ways to test magnesium deficiency is by having your blood drawn. You can consult with your healthcare provider about whether you must take the test in the first place. A blood test is considered to be the most common way of finding out your magnesium levels. But first, you must look into your symptoms before extensive testing. 

Most commonly, magnesium levels become low at some stages in life, such as being pregnant or having issues with your pregnancy, if you are dealing with diabetes, have issues with your thyroid, or other health issues. In these cases, the magnesium levels will be low whenever you test them.

However, some of the most common symptoms that can show themselves early in a magnesium deficiency are very common and easy to spot. Some of them include;

  • Having issues with your muscles, such as spasms, tingling, and a feeling of numbness
  • Feeling nauseated, fatigued, and having an overall feeling of lightheadedness
  • Losing your appetite and having the urge to vomit most (or all) of the time
  • Stress, sleepiness, feeling drowsy, and just having a complete feeling of weakness

When you are considering taking a blood test for magnesium deficiency with your physician, don’t be scared. You need to remember that this will be the same as any other blood test you have done before.

You would go to the place where your blood is usually taken, you will meet a nurse who would be performing the blood draw, and you will only be left with a tiny little needle sting on your arm. So, there is nothing to worry about! 

Depending on the work politics of the lab, the results may come in either within the hour, within the day, or the following day (it usually doesn’t take much time). After the results are in, they will be sent to your health provider, and once they get them, they will call you in for a consultation. Depending on the results, you will agree on a preferred approach when it comes to healing (if there is magnesium deficiency in the first place).

oat meal for magnesium

Types of Magnesium Tests

There are several ways to test for a magnesium deficiency, including:

  • Home Urine Tests: This is the easiest way to test for magnesium deficiency. Vivoo is the leading offering and can be purchased online and tested in just 90 seconds once received.
  • Blood tests: This is the most common way to test for magnesium deficiency. A blood test can measure the level of magnesium in the blood, but it is important to note that only about 1% of the body's magnesium is found in the blood, so a normal blood test result does not necessarily mean that a person is not deficient.
  • Red blood cell (RBC) magnesium test: This test measures the amount of magnesium in red blood cells and is considered a more accurate test than a regular blood test.
  • 24-hour urine test: This test measures the amount of magnesium that is excreted in the urine over a 24-hour period. It can help to determine whether a person is getting enough magnesium from their diet.
  • Magnesium loading test: This test involves administering a large dose of magnesium and then measuring the amount of magnesium in the urine. It can help to determine whether a person's kidneys are able to properly excrete magnesium.
  • Tissue mineral testing: This test measures the amount of magnesium in a sample of hair, blood, or other tissue. It can help to determine whether a person has a deficiency in magnesium.
  • Magnesium tolerance test: This test involves administering a large dose of magnesium and then measuring the person's blood pressure and heart rate. It can help to determine whether a person's cells are able to properly use magnesium.

It's important to note that these tests are not always definitive in determining magnesium deficiency, and it is also important to take into account the individual's symptoms, medical history, and other factors. A healthcare professional should be consulted to interpret test results and make an accurate diagnosis.

What is a Normal Magnesium Level?

The normal range of magnesium in the body is generally considered to be between 0.75 and 0.95 millimoles per liter (mmol/L). However, it is important to note that the normal range may vary slightly. Magnesium levels can be checked with accurate at-home urine tests - learn more about those here.

There are several factors that can contribute to low magnesium levels in the body. These include diet, medication use, and certain medical conditions. For example, a diet that is low in magnesium-rich foods, such as leafy green vegetables, nuts, and whole grains, may lead to low magnesium levels. Similarly, certain medications, such as diuretics and proton pump inhibitors, can interfere with the absorption of magnesium and lead to low levels.

On the other hand, certain medical conditions, such as kidney disease, can cause the body to excrete too much magnesium leading to low levels. Other conditions, such as alcoholism and pancreatitis, can interfere with the body's ability to absorb and use magnesium, leading to low levels.

How can you Test Magnesium at Home?

The magnesium in the body is stored in the bones and other areas, not the blood, so this is why there might be a couple of different ways to test magnesium deficiency. Some of these tests can be done in the comfort of your own home! However, one of the things that you need to be mindful of is that if you are under constant stress, then the body would send the magnesium out of its regular storing place and into your bloodstream. When you decide to take a blood test, it may seem like you have more magnesium than you do. If you are looking into alternatives, we can offer you a few; please see below:

  • Test magnesium deficiency through your red blood cells;
  • Check how much magnesium you are releasing by checking your urine;
  • Add some magnesium to your daily routine, then check how much of it goes into your urine;
  • Test the magnesium in your cells instead of your blood – this is a very simple test that is done through your oral cavity instead of having someone draw your blood. This particular test is not a common one because it is on the more expensive side.

Please take note of this and talk to your physician about the best way to go to test the levels of magnesium in your body. One of the most used tests after a blood test is the urine test for magnesium levels. It is almost very easy to do, and its results are accurate. So, either way, you will be able to get some correct results and see whether you have magnesium deficiency or not.

Don’t forget that your health should always be your priority. This means that regular check-ups are a must. So, next time you feel like you might lack a nutrient or two, find the best ways to test yourself. And when we are talking specifically about magnesium deficiency, there are a few ways to check your levels that are safe and easy to make, as listed above. If you are thinking about it, put your health first and get tested today!

Have you had your magnesium levels tested before? Did you find the procedure lengthy? How satisfied were you with the correctness of the results? We would love to hear from you – feel free to share your opinion in the comment section below; we look forward to reading your thoughts! 

What are the Different Types of Magnesium Test Strips?

There are a number of different kinds of tests that you can use to test your magnesium levels, whether you test with a professional lab or take an at-home test.

Here are three different ways you can check your magnesium levels: 

1.  Blood test – 

If you go to your healthcare provider, then they will likely determine your magnesium levels using a blood test. This is the most common method for checking your body’s magnesium levels. You’ll most likely be directed to a laboratory where a health professional will draw a blood sample from your hand or arm.  

It typically takes one day for laboratories to process your results to send them to you and your health provider. Taking a blood test is an easy and simple procedure to help determine whether your magnesium levels are within a normal range.

2.  EXA test from mouth cells – 

An “EXA test” takes samples of your mouth cells to determine your magnesium levels. It’s worth noting, however, that this test is not very common and is more expensive compared to other testing methods. As is the case with taking a blood test, you would first need to consult your health provider to decide whether this test is the right option for you.  

3.  Urine magnesium test – 

Taking a urine test is the easiest way to determine your magnesium levels. Not only that, it’s the best method for you if you’re looking to get your magnesium levels in check from the comfort of your home. There are many different brands of at-home urine tests that help you check your magnesium levels, so you can try different tests out to determine the right test for you. 

Generally speaking, other at-home urine tests on the market will only test for your magnesium levels, but with Vivoo, you can get real-time data on your body’s wellness based on 8 other wellness parameters like your vitamin C and calcium levels! But it doesn’t stop there. Unlike other tests on the market, the Vivoo App shares actionable nutritional and lifestyle advice with you that has been prepared by dietitians so that you can improve your wellness! 

If you want to get insight into your magnesium levels, try Vivoo! Vivoo converts your urine data into personalized dietary and lifestyle advice that you can incorporate into your daily life. Every piece of advice on Vivoo has been crafted by doctors, nutritionists, and dietitians. Check your magnesium levels right away as you embark on your wellness journey!

What is Magnesium Deficiency?

When it comes to staying healthy, magnesium is really important for lots of things that your body does. But not getting enough magnesium can be a problem because it messes with those things your body needs magnesium for. This can happen if you don’t eat enough foods with magnesium in them, have certain health issues, or your body has trouble taking in nutrients. 

If you’re not getting enough magnesium, you might feel cramps in your muscles, really tired, have an irregular heartbeat or even feel moody. It’s important to know what signs to look out for as a risk factor for not having enough magnesium so you can try to keep yourself healthy. 

What Are the Symptoms of Magnesium Deficiency?

When magnesium deficiency arises, one needs to be aware that there are plenty of signs pointing out that a body lacks this important nutrient. So, without further ado, let’s see what magnesium deficiency can cause:

  • Cramps in the muscles and constant twitching – one of the first signs of magnesium deficiency is the abnormal functioning of the muscles. Even though any spasms or twitches you might have may be caused by an array of reasons, in some cases, that reason is having low magnesium levels in the body.
  • Changes in mental health – if you want to maintain a healthy lifestyle, you don’t need to take care of your body but your mind. Basically, by caring about your body, you kind of nurture the mind as well. The first signs of magnesium deficiency come along with the overall numbness and lack of emotions too. Some people who lack magnesium in their body may even experience a depressive wave or notice that their anxiety is acting up and is constantly on a higher level.
  • The beginning of osteoporosis – all of us know that osteoporosis is a disorder with an increased risk of fractured and brittle bones. This is connected to magnesium in a way that this mineral promotes the health and the strength of the bones and the connective tissues. So naturally, if the bones are weak and the magnesium levels are low, osteoporosis may be bound to happen.
  • A higher blood pressure – the magnesium-based supplements can be of much assistance to those people who are dealing with high blood pressure, so, naturally, when low magnesium levels in the body occur, this deficiency automatically may increase  the blood pressure.
  • Arrhythmia – another one of the most common signs of magnesium deficiency is an irregular heartbeat. This is considered to be one of the most serious symptoms of magnesium deficiency. If you are experiencing shortness of breath, lightheadedness, fatigue, chest pain, dizziness, and fainting, then it might be the time to visit your physician. This can only lead to a heart attack or a stroke in the most extreme cases.
  • Fatigue and weakness in the muscles is not such a severe  symptom, especially because anyone could experience fatigue over a certain period, which can be due to exhaustion or overworking. Please make sure not to have it mistaken for magnesium deficiency. So, if you only experience fatigue without any other symptom, don’t jump to conclusions thinking that your magnesium levels are low.

What Causes Magnesium Deficiency?

Experiencing low levels of magnesium is not something that happens very often, meaning it is a very rare case. It can happen in the case of consuming too much alcohol, taking some specific medication that can coincide with the absorption of magnesium, dealing with kidney disease, having celiac disease, or you are experiencing some digestive issues that have lasted for some time now.

There are several potential causes of magnesium deficiency, including overuse of magnesium supplements, kidney disease, certain medications, and rare genetic conditions. 

In the United States, magnesium deficiency is becoming a growing concern due to changing dietary habits and increased reliance on processed foods. So, we have compiled a small list for you to check; if you can recognize any of the causes, then it might be time to contact your physician and consult on this subject. The causes are:

  • Issues with your kidneys
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • A poor diet, especially if you are a part of the elderly group
  • Severe digestive issues
  • Using diuretics for a longer period
  • Diarrhea and vomiting that is constant
  • If you have taken some medicine such as something for ulcers and acid reflux for a longer period
  • Constant consumption of alcohol

What’s a Magnesium Deficiency Test?

Checking if you have enough magnesium in your body is important for your health since this mineral is vital for many important functions in your body. To find out if you have a magnesium deficiency, doctors usually do a simple blood test to measure the amount of magnesium ions present in your blood. 

This helps them figure out whether you're within the recommended range or not and create a personalized treatment plan. Sometimes, it's hard to tell if someone has a magnesium deficiency just from their symptoms which makes the blood test really useful for accurate assessment. 

How Is Magnesium Deficiency Reversed?

Making sure your body has enough magnesium is really important for staying healthy. If you don't have enough, it can cause problems. The main ways to fix magnesium deficiency are by changing what you eat, taking supplements, and making lifestyle changes. 

To get more magnesium from your diet, try eating leafy greens, nuts, seeds, and whole grains. If you have a really serious deficiency or some kind of medical condition that makes it hard for your body to absorb nutrients, your doctor might recommend taking magnesium supplements like citrate, oxide or glycinate. 

These come in different forms depending on what works best for you. There are also other things you can do to help keep your magnesium levels balanced like managing stress, getting enough sleep and cutting back on alcohol and caffeine.

What Should Those With Magnesium Deficiency Eat?

To prevent a magnesium deficiency, it's important to eat a diet that is rich in magnesium-rich foods, such as leafy green vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and legumes. Magnesium supplements can also be used, but it is important to talk to a healthcare professional before taking any supplements, as high doses can cause side effects of magnesium such as diarrhea, stomach cramps, and nausea.

What Is High Magnesium?

High magnesium, also known as hypermagnesemia, is a condition in which there is too much magnesium in the body. It is typically defined as a serum magnesium level of greater than 2.5 mg/dL. High magnesium can be a serious condition, as excessive amounts of the mineral can interfere with various bodily functions and lead to a range of symptoms and complications.

What Are the Symptoms of High Magnesium?

The symptoms and complications of high magnesium can vary depending on the severity of the condition and the individual's underlying health. Some common symptoms of high magnesium include:

  • Drowsiness or lethargy
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Low blood pressure
  • Difficulty breathing (in severe cases)

What are the Complications of High Magnesium?

  • Heart problems: Excessive amounts of magnesium can interfere with the function of the heart and lead to arrhythmias
  • Nerve and muscle problems: High magnesium can cause muscle weakness and numbness, as well as difficulty speaking or swallowing.

What Causes High Magnesium?

There are several potential causes of high magnesium, including:

  • Overuse of magnesium supplements: Taking too much of a magnesium supplement or using a high-dose supplement can cause high magnesium levels. It is important to follow the dosage instructions on the supplement label and to discuss your use of supplements with a healthcare provider.
  • Kidney disease: The kidneys are responsible for filtering excess magnesium from the body, so kidney disease can lead to high magnesium levels.
  • Certain medications: Some medications, such as certain diuretics and antacids, can interfere with the body's ability to eliminate excess magnesium, leading to high levels of the mineral in the body.
  • Rare genetic conditions: In rare cases, high magnesium can be caused by genetic conditions that affect the body's ability to metabolize the mineral.

How Is High Magnesium Reversed?

In mild cases, reducing the intake of magnesium or stopping the use of medications that can cause high magnesium can be sufficient. In more severe cases, treatment may involve medications to remove excess magnesium from the body, such as diuretics or laxatives, or intravenous (IV) fluids. If high magnesium is caused by kidney disease, treatment may involve medications to control the condition and improve kidney function.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does Magnesium Help With Weight Loss?

Magnesium is important for many body functions, but there's no clear proof that taking magnesium alone can help you lose weight. But, if you eat a balanced diet with enough magnesium, it can keep your body healthy which may help with maintaining a healthy weight.

Does Magnesium Lower Blood Pressure?

Yes, magnesium plays a role in regulating blood pressure. It helps relax blood vessels, which can lead to lower blood pressure. Consuming magnesium-rich foods or supplements, as part of a balanced diet, can potentially have a positive impact on blood pressure levels.

How Can I Raise My Magnesium Quickly?

If you want to get more magnesium in your diet, try chowing down on leafy greens, nuts, seeds, whole grains and legumes. Another option is to take magnesium supplements but make sure you talk to a healthcare expert before you start taking them.

Is Water High in Magnesium?

Water can have different amounts of magnesium depending on where it comes from. Certain water sources that are full of minerals might have more magnesium, but usually, water doesn't give us a lot of magnesium in our diets.

Is Taking Magnesium Supplements Safe?

Basically, taking magnesium supplements is usually safe as long as you follow the directions. But if you take too much, it could cause stomach problems or interfere with some medications. So, before you start taking any supplement, it's a good idea to ask your doctor first - especially if you have other health issues.

Who Should Avoid Magnesium?

If you have kidney problems or take specific meds, it's best to talk to a doctor before taking magnesium supplements. If you have some health issues like kidney disease or severe heart problems, you might have to skip the high doses of magnesium.

Can I Take Magnesium with Vitamin D?

Yes, you can totally take magnesium and vitamin D at the same time. They actually team up to do a lot of important stuff in your body. But, it's smart to chat with a healthcare pro before combining any supplements, particularly if you're on meds or have health troubles.

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