Magnesium deficiency, also known as hypomagnesemia, is an often overlooked health problem.
Fewer than 2 percent of Americans are thought to be magnesium deficient, but this percentage is much higher among hospital and intensive care unit patients, people with diabetes, and people with alcohol use disorders ( 1Trusted Source ).
In some cases, the deficiency is underdiagnosed, so there are no obvious symptoms until your levels drop dramatically.
Causes of magnesium deficiency vary and include (1 trusted source):
certain medications, such as chemotherapy drugs and proton pump inhibitors
acute or chronic diarrhea
“Hungry bone syndrome” after thyroid or parathyroid surgery
Medical conditions such as diabetes, malabsorption, chronic diarrhea, and celiac disease are associated with magnesium loss. People with an alcohol use disorder are at risk for alcoholism ( 2Trusted Source ).
This article lists 7 symptoms of magnesium deficiency.
- Pulling or contracting a muscle
Tremors, tremors, and muscle cramps are symptoms of magnesium deficiency. In the worst cases, the deficiency can cause seizures and convulsions (1, 3 trusted sources).
Scientists believe that these symptoms are due to excessive calcium influx in the neurons, which is due to overstimulation or overstimulation of the muscle nerves (4).
Supplements may help relieve muscle cramps and spasms in some people with a deficiency, but one review concluded that magnesium supplements may not be effective in treating muscle spasms in older adults. Other groups require further research (5Trusted Source).
Remember that involuntary muscle stiffness can have many other causes. For example, stress or too much caffeine can force muscles to spasm.
These can be side effects of certain medications or symptoms of neuromuscular diseases such as muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, and myasthenia gravis.
Occasional seizures are common, but if symptoms persist, see a doctor.
Common symptoms of magnesium deficiency include muscle stiffness, tremors, and cramps. However, supplementation is unlikely to reduce these symptoms in the elderly or those with magnesium deficiency.
- Mental health status
Mental health is another effect of magnesium deficiency.
An example of this is apathy, which is characterized by emotional insensitivity or lack of emotion. Excess deficiency can lead to delirium and loss of consciousness ( 3Trusted Source ).
Additionally, observational studies have linked low magnesium levels to an increased risk of depression ( 6Trusted Source ).
Scientists have hypothesized that magnesium deficiency may trigger anxiety, but there is no direct evidence ( 7Trusted Source ).
One review concluded that magnesium supplements may benefit people with anxiety, but that the quality of the evidence was low. More high-quality research is needed to reach any conclusions ( 8Trusted Source ).
In short, magnesium deficiency seems to impair nerve function and improve mental health in some people.
Magnesium deficiency can cause mood swings, delirium, and even coma. Scientists believe that deficiency can cause anxiety, but there is no strong evidence to support this idea.
Osteoporosis is a condition that weakens the bones and increases the risk of fractures.
Many factors contribute to the risk of developing osteoporosis, including:
lack of movement
Inadequate intake of vitamins D and K in food
Interestingly, magnesium deficiency is a risk factor for osteoporosis. A deficiency can directly weaken bones, but it also lowers blood levels of calcium, a key building block of bone ( 9Trusted Source , 10Trusted Source ).
Studies in rats have confirmed that dietary magnesium deficiency reduces bone mass. Although these studies have not been done in humans, studies have linked poor magnesium intake to low bone mineral density (11, 12).
Magnesium deficiency may be one of the risk factors for osteoporosis and fractures, but many factors contribute to this risk.
- Fatigue and muscle weakness
Fatigue, including physical and mental fatigue and weakness, is another symptom of magnesium deficiency.
Remember that everyone gets tired from time to time. Basically, it just means you need to rest. However, severe or persistent fatigue can be a sign of a medical problem.
Fatigue is a non-specific symptom, so it is impossible to determine its cause if it is not accompanied by other symptoms.
Another typical symptom of magnesium deficiency is muscle weakness, which can be caused by myasthenia gravis ( 13Trusted Source ).
Scientists believe that the weakness is caused by the loss of potassium in the muscle cells associated with magnesium deficiency (14, 15).
Therefore, magnesium deficiency is one of the causes of fatigue and weakness.