11 Warning Signs of Low Magnesium Levels: Causes and Treatment

It can be hard to detect the warning signs of low magnesium levels in your body. A magnesium deficiency can show signs like nausea, muscle cramps, fatigue, tingling sensation in your hand, and constipation. Many of these signs can also be indicative of other health conditions and are easy to mistake for something else. Signs of low levels of magnesium should never be overlooked.

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Having low levels of magnesium over a long period of time can also lead to various complications like heart disease, osteoporosis, high blood pressure and kidney stones.

Low magnesium side effects are often ascribed to other causes. Also, lifestyle choices can sometimes affect how much magnesium is absorbed into the body. For example, chronic diarrhea, drinking too much alcohol, or certain medications can lower magnesium levels.

Importance of Magnesium in Your Body

Magnesium is an essential mineral in your body that helps to keep your body operating properly. Magnesium is vital for healthy bones, muscles, nerves, and heart function. Magnesium also helps your body to regulate blood pressure and blood sugar, therefore, helping to give your body the required energy.

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The National Institute of Health says that magnesium is an important mineral because it is involved in over 300 biochemical reactions in the body. Magnesium is also needed for healthy DNA and also has antioxidant properties that keep you healthy. Around half of your body’s levels of magnesium are in the bones with the rest in soft tissues and a little amount in the blood.

Connection Between Magnesium, Vitamin D & Calcium

Magnesium is also closely linked with calcium and vitamin D. A lack of magnesium can affect how vitamin D is absorbed in the body and also helps to prevent too much calcium accumulating in the bones.

According to the National Institutes of Health, magnesium affects the concentration of vitamin D which is essential for healthy bones.  Doctors from the NHS reveal that vitamin D helps the body to regulate the amount of calcium and phosphate which are all essential for healthy bones, teeth, and muscle function.

11 Symptoms of Magnesium Deficiency

  1. Nausea and vomiting

A sign of low levels of magnesium that is easy to ignore is nausea and vomiting. There may be many reasons linked to your nausea like being pregnant, stomach bug or food poisoning. However, a persistent feeling of nausea and vomiting is a common symptom of magnesium deficiency.

  1. Arrhythmia (abnormal heart rhythm)

Magnesium helps to regulate your heart rhythm. Therefore, low magnesium in your blood could cause arrhythmia. According to the journal Hippokratia, hypomagnesemia can affect the cardiovascular system. Researchers have discovered that boosting levels of magnesium in the body helps to reduce incidences of arrhythmias.

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  1. Muscle cramps and spasms

A lack of magnesium in your body can cause you to develop muscle cramps, twitches, tics and spasms.

According to doctors from the Mayo Clinic, various types of muscle cramps can be caused by having too little magnesium, calcium, or potassium. Leg cramping is a common symptom of a mineral deficiency such as a lack of magnesium.

  1. Anxiety

Low magnesium can have a devastating impact on your feelings of anxiety and stress in your daily activities.

According to a scientific study published in the journal Nutrients, there are some reasons why a lack of magnesium can increase anxiety levels. For example, magnesium affects glutamate which is an important neurotransmitter that regulates responses to fear, panic, and anxiety. Also, magnesium regulates the adrenal glands which affect your stress response.

  1. Fatigue & weakness

If you constantly feel drained, lack energy, or feel physically weak, increasing your levels of magnesium could help. Fatigue and chronic tiredness are among the early signs of low magnesium levels, the Clinical Kidney Journal reports.

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  1. Sleeping problems

Lack of magnesium in your diet can cause insomnia and other sleep problems. Many people suffer from sleep problems like not falling asleep quickly, awakening too early, or feeling tired when they wake. According to a research published in the Journal of Research in Medical Sciences, magnesium supplementation helped to improve individuals’ sleep patterns. Getting more magnesium in the diet allowed people to sleep better and wake up feeling more refreshed.

  1. Headaches and migraines

Frequent headaches and severe migraines can be linked to low magnesium levels. According to research published in the journal The Clinical Biochemist Reviews, one of the signs of low magnesium levels are migraines and headaches.

  1. Numbness and tingling

Sign of magnesium deficiency occurs if you frequently suffer from numbness and tingling sensation in your arms or legs or legs. According to doctors from the American Academy of Family Physicians, people with low levels of magnesium often experience numbness or tingling sensation.

  1. Loss of appetite

A study published in the journal Nutrients discovered that a loss of appetite is often an early sign of a magnesium deficiency. Not eating a healthy, well-balanced diet where you don’t get enough vitamins and minerals could then make levels of magnesium drop even lower.

  1. Constipation and low magnesium

Constipation is a sign that you could be suffering from a lack of magnesium which makes it harder to pass out stools. Low levels of magnesium have a direct effect on the incidences of constipation. Magnesium is equally as vital as fiber to keep your stools soft and your bowel movements regular.

   11. High blood pressure

Low levels of magnesium has been linked with high blood pressure in many researches. Because magnesium has a relaxing effect on many functions of the body, it helps to relax your blood vessels. The journal Clinical Calcium stated that magnesium levels have a direct effect on a person’s blood pressure. Magnesium also affects potassium and calcium levels which also affect blood pressure.17

Common Causes of Magnesium Deficiency

Water purification

Public water-purification facilities have strengthened their efforts to remove contaminants like lead, pesticide residues, and nitrates from drinking water. However, these modern water-treatment methods also drain drinking water of needed minerals like calcium and magnesium. Many people have added home water filters that extract any remaining minerals from the water, thereby aggravating the condition.

Though the concentrations of calcium and magnesium in drinking-water vary significantly from one supply to another, mineral-rich drinking-water may provide important contributions to total intakes of these nutrients in some populations.

Modern farming techniques and food processing

Magnesium deficiency can also be caused by modern farming techniques which deplete the soil of vital nutrients and the way that many of our foods are processed which reduces their mineral, vitamin, and fiber content.

Chronic diarrhea

Chronic diarrhea affects magnesium absorption and can result in a magnesium deficiency.

Excessive intake of alcohol

Chronic drinking of alcohol is another reason why some people show very low levels of magnesium. Alcoholism and chronic diarrhea are often connected and can further negatively impact on magnesium levels.

Excessive exercising

The journal Clinical Biochemist Reviews said that extreme workouts can affect levels of magnesium and cause them to drop after long exercise.

Age affects levels of magnesium

As we grow older, our body’s ability to absorb enough magnesium from food reduces. However, according to some studies, a magnesium deficiency caused by age only affects the very elderly.18


Diabetes weakens magnesium absorption. The journal Postgraduate Medicine reported that there is also a clear link between diabetes and showing signs of low magnesium levels.24

Diseases Caused by Low Levels of Magnesium


Magnesium is closely connected with vitamin D and calcium. So a magnesium deficiency can cause osteoporosis.

Heart disease

Your body needs magnesium to keep its heart healthy, and heart disease can be caused by a magnesium deficiency. 26


A chronic deficiency of magnesium levels could lead to asthma and other respiratory conditions. The medical journal the Lancet reported that many people who suffer from asthma also have symptoms of low magnesium levels.

High blood pressure

Insufficient magnesium from your diet or supplements could cause high blood pressure or hypertension. The International Journal of Hypertension discovered that levels of magnesium impacts on blood pressure and a magnesium deficiency could lead to high blood pressure.

Kidney stones

If you have chronic low levels of magnesium, you may be at more risk of developing kidney stones. The journal Clinical Nutrition Research reported that low levels of magnesium in urine allows for the formation of mineral deposits which can develop into kidney stones


Low levels of magnesium may affect insulin levels so much that it is a causative factor in type-2 diabetes, reports World Journal of Diabetes.

Foods to Prevent Low Magnesium Levels

Some of the best foods that contain high levels of magnesium are nuts and seeds, whole grains and green leafy vegetables.

According to the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, the best foods to eat to increase levels of magnesium are:

  • Cereals. Oatmeal, wholemeal bread, and bran flakes.
  • Vegetables. Broccoli, raw carrots, corn, peas, beets, and asparagus.
  • Nuts and seeds. Almonds, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, cashews, Brazil nuts, and walnuts.
  • Meat and fish. Lean veal, sirloin steak, chicken, turkey and tuna.
  • Dairy products. Milk.

Supplements to Treat Magnesium Deficiency

Taking magnesium supplements is one way to address a magnesium deficiency and avoid the signs of low magnesium.

You can find magnesium supplements at your local health store or online. Magnesium supplements can be found in powder form, liquid, capsules or tablets. You can find inexpensive products that feature magnesium citrate which is among the most readily absorbed forms of magnesium supplements.

As there is a risk of side effects and interactions with other medications and supplements, you should speak to your doctor before taking supplements for low levels of magnesium.


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