Magnesium deficiency: 7 consequences

Magnesium is one of the most important minerals that participates in many physiological processes. It is essential for the normal functioning of cells, muscles and especially nervous tissue. Human body cannot synthesize this element and that is why we should get it with food. Magnesium initiates the work of many enzymes involved in carbohydrate, energy, protein and fat metabolism; it directly impacts about 300 biochemical processes and indirectly – even more. So it is obvious that magnesium deficiency may lead to serious health problems. Here are some of the most common consequences of chronic magnesium deficiency: 

  • Muscle cramps, twitches and tremors. It is one of the main symptoms of magnesium deficiency. Magnesium takes part in regulation of nerve and muscle functions by carrying calcium and potassium (they are important for the healthy contractions of muscles) across the cells. Low levels of this element lead to the hyperstimulation of the nerve endings responsible for stimulation of muscles. When these nerves are “overexcited”, the muscles cannot relax properly which results in painful spasms, cramps and twitches. 
  • Chronic fatigue. Magnesium participates in the process of energy production by teaming up with specific enzymes inside the cells. That is why lack of magnesium usually results in persistent fatigue. However, tiredness is a non-specific symptom which may also be associated with the lack of sleep  or exercise as well as some health conditions.  
  • Heart disease. Magnesium helps to regulate the cardiovascular system muscle tone. Persistently low level of magnesium may cause imbalance of potassium levels outside and inside the heart muscle cells which results in the development of heart rhythm disturbance (irregular heartbeat or arrhythmia). In addition, some studies suggest that magnesium deficiency may lead to high blood pressure – researchers believe that it might have something to do with the effect magnesium have on inflammation.
  • Type 2 diabetes. Deficiency of magnesium has been linked to the development of insulin resistance, the main promoting factor for type 2 diabetes. It turns out that magnesium controls insulin and glucose metabolic balance; it also activates an enzyme that is required for the proper functioning of insulin receptors. Diets high in magnesium are associated with considerably lower risk of diabetes.
  • Mental disorders. Magnesium deficiency may cause nerve dysfunction and even induce mental issues in some people. Scientists link the lack of this element with apathy, anxiety and increased risk of depression.
  • Headaches and migraines. According to some studies, lack of magnesium causes problems with the release of neurotransmitters in the body and affects the constriction of the blood vessels thus promoting migraine headaches. Migraineurs have been found to typically have decreased levels of magnesium.
  • Asthma. Magnesium ions have several effects on bronchial airways – it participates in the relaxation of the smooth muscles of the airways and influences bronchodilation. Epidemiological studies show that low magnesium intake is associated with wheezing, impaired lung function and bronchial hyperactivity. Moreover, low blood level of magnesium affects the concentration of vitamin D circulating in blood which subsequently impacts the immunity and thus may promote asthma.