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16 Magnesium Deficiency Symptoms – Signs of Low Magnesium Levels

Paul Fassa
April 1st, 2013
Updated 05/08/2014 at 11:54 am
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pumpkinsunflowerseeds 258x161 16 Magnesium Deficiency Symptoms Signs of Low Magnesium LevelsYou may know what magnesium is, but do you know how important the mineral can be for your health? Magnesium is involved with over 300 metabolic processes in our bodies, leading to the mineral being called the ‘master mineral’.  So what exactly does it mean to have a magnesium deficiency, and what are some magnesium deficiency symptoms?

Why Supplementing with Magnesium is a Good Idea

Firstly, magnesium is necessary for the proper transportation of calcium across cell membranes. Why? Calcium needs other nutrients that help get calcium into bone matter. Those other nutrients are silica, vitamin D, vitamin K, and, you guessed it – magnesium. Excessive calcium intake has been linked to heart health issues by staying in the blood long enough to calcify into arterial plaque.

Minerals are more important than vitamins, which struggle actually struggle without minerals. Thanks to modern monoculture farming methods that rely heavily on using chemical fertilizers, pesticides, and insecticides that are absorbed into the soil, out topsoil has been heavily depleted of its mineral content.

The master mineral magnesium is missing from most of our topsoil, leaving the vast majority, perhaps 80%, with a failure to meet even the USDA’s recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of 240 to 420 millgrams (based on age). It’s important to note that government RDAs are known to be well below optimum levels. Many experts think our magnesium levels should be twice the amount.

While observing bodily signs can help, you may want to have some tests administered in the end to test whether or not you’re deficient in magnesium. Serum or blood level measurements are usually inadequate because magnesium operates on a cellular level and accumulates in organ and nerve tissue. So even good results with blood testing are very often deceptive, leaving one with a magnesium deficiency. One effective test developed for use by health professionals is the Exa Test.

If testing is unavailable, put your symptom watch hat on. There are many symptoms of magnesium deficiency that relate to cardiovascular, heart, neurological, and muscular dysfunction and disease.

These various magnesium deficiency symptoms are numerous because of the mineral’s diverse role in so many different cellular metabolic functions.

16 Magnesium Deficiency Symptoms

As mentioned, magnesium is a mineral responsible for numerous bodily processes. An anti-inflammatory mineral offering protection against illnesses like arthritis and Alzheimer’s disease, magnesium has been used to remedy problems like high blood pressure, diabetes, respiratory issues, and much more. But as you may suspect, just as upping magnesium intake can solve problems, a magnesium deficiency could lead to many of those same issues and much more.

Here are 16 signs of a magnesium deficiency.

  • Calcium deficiency
  • Poor heart health
  • Weakness
  • Muscle cramps
  • Tremors
  • Nausea
  • Anxiety
  • High blood pressure
  • Type II diabetes
  • Respiratory issues
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Potassium deficiency
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Poor memory
  • Confusion

It’s important to note that while these are symptoms of a magnesium deficiency, it doesn’t necessarily mean you are definitely deficient in magnesium if you experience the above issues.

How to Safely Supplement Magnesium

It’s almost impossible to overdose magnesium by supplementing, but consuming too much magnesium is still not a great idea. Too much of the mineral could lead to some side effects like irregular heartbeat or slowed breathing. Similar to oral ascorbic acid C, there is a bowel tolerance threshold that brings on diarrhea if exceeded. Not all magnesium supplements are easily absorbed, either.

You can find inexpensive products that feature magnesium citrate, which is among the most readily absorbed forms of magnesium supplements.

You can also apply transdermal magnesium chloride topically to be absorbed internally through the skin. Magnesium chloride is also known as magnesium oil, though not really an oil. It’s a briny solution from ancient sea beds. It is available through various online sources. Google magnesium oil products.

If you don’t want to supplement and simply want to acquire magnesium through food sources, here are a few foods that can relieve you of any magnesium deficiency symptoms:

  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Soybeans
  • Black beans
  • Cashews
  • Spinach
  • Squash
  • Sesame seeds
  • Almonds
  • Okra

Additional Sources:






From around the web:

  • Whitney

    Traditional soy foods are ok like tempeh, tofu and natto. Phyto estrogen is exactly what it is, phyto. It will not imbalance hormones because the hormone is of another kingdom. If you want to avoid hormone foods, then stop ingesting dairy because it has naturally occurring hormones which promote cancer especially breast cancer. Isolated soy is not good, like fake meats and powders because it is a fragmented nutrient which is toxic in high amounts. Do your research please!

  • kilmarley

    Chem trails deliver lots of Aluminum as do vaccines. Deletes the body of magnesium. Check it put. Watch the skies.

  • Em

    Un-sulphured Raw Organic Blackstrap Molasses is magnesium rich and is an excellent food source.

  • Bob

    Halibut is also a good source but one of the best is 100g a bar of dark chocolate (at least 85% is best). Its so rich I think that people who “crave” chocolate are actually craving the magnesium so often deficient in most diets. Go check the numbers on NutritionData, don’t take my word for it.

  • Danny Zwolenski

    This surely does work but it should be noted that anyone with kidney issues, obviously anyone with diabetes should probably not use this treatment. I have yet to see Epsom Salts that don’t show this warning on the label. Just so nobody missed the warning or tells anyone who uses this treatment. But in general, Epsom Salts are wonderful.

  • Annena9

    Even non GMO soy is not good, it negatively affects the thyroid, and can suppress firtility, because it is a phyto-estrogen mimicking substence. We have been sold a bunch of lies about soy being healthy, when it is not.

  • Rad


    • kilmarley

      My husband is allergic to shrimp, I hear it’s the iodine. Is that the same type of iodine?

  • Rollerkat

    FANTASTIC COMMENT! Thank you for reminding all of us of this great, easy-to-find product!

  • CharlaS

    Chocolate should be on the list. It is one of the HIGHEST food sources of magnesium with just one ounce containing 95 mg. or 24% of the recommended MINIMUM amount. I use magnesium oil to absorb magnesium transdermally (through the skin). It works better than Epsom salts, although both are very helpful and Epsom salts contains much needed sulfur. There are several really good forums on Facebook on Thyroid problems and associated nutritional deficiencies such as iodine-iodide, selenium, magnesium, boron, zinc, etc. I belong to 2 of them. One is ‘Iodine Support Group’, the other simply ‘Iodine’. Some very experienced people are administrators on both pages and help us in understanding and turning around the debilitating problems caused by imbalances in thyroid and adrenals, which often have lack of selenium as a probable root cause. Thyroid and adrenals work hand-in-hand, along with hormones such as progesterone, estrogen, DHEA and testosterone which are directly tied to thyroid and adrenal function.

    • Janeen

      I would actually steal chocolate from my children, I crave it that much when suffering with fatigue & foggy head.. have just started magnesium in the last two days so feeling hopefull.. doc will only give anti depressants..I take but they gradually stop working, probably as I’m not depressed. Thank u for this information x

  • Diane

    What brand and dose of mafgnesium did you take? I am thinking about taking some magnesium because I have internal trembling and terrible anxiety. I am a 60 year old female.

    • Hammockbear

      Woman’s World happens to have a Dr. Oz article about Magnesium this week. He suggests 400 mg. BUT. you SHOULD check with your Dr. FIRST. I did get some 250 mg, Sundown brand. Only on day 3. Am trying to lose weight and regain a better memory. BUT also have made an appt. with my Dr.
      Good luck.

      • Question Authority

        Dr. Oz is an a**hole. He gave Piers Morgan
        a flu shot right on television, promising it
        was completely safe. Next day Morgan
        came down with the worst case of flu he
        ever had. Stay away from flu shots too!

        • right

          you realize if he “came down with it” the next day, that means he already had the flu before the shot, aka, he got his shot too late. The flu takes time to develop symptoms in the body. And a flu shot isn’t effective immediately. He probably was unlucky because his body started fighting the original flu, and then the dead flu cells on top of it from the shot. That’s just bad luck, not bad science.

    • Amey

      Did it work? I have the same symptoms

  • Hayley

    A great read, I have 80% above symptoms. Thought I might have M.E!! I already have Asthma and Crohns! Started taking Magnesium today and feeling hopeful:)

  • Marti Bee

    , Nathan, Right on!!
    To many folks are blindly, ignorantly consuming soy foods without any comprehension about GMO’s (esp. where soy is concerned) & how/why fermented soy is acceptable but otherwise ought not be consumed. Glad to see someone else has knowledge about the realities of soy. Spread the word!

  • Lynn

    I can’t take any form of mag except in foods. It gives me the runs, so much I am always ready for a colonoscopy!

  • Doreen

    Check your Vit D and Selenium – often low with Thyroid problems.

    • Rollerkat

      Test your progesterone levels…the thyroid and progesterone can affect each other…in fact, many times infertile people are often low thyroid, and low in progesterone too.

  • Erwin Alber

    Thanks for this! Another way is to mix some Epsom Salts with water and to put it into a spray bottle and then to spray it on the bare skin.

    • Lynn

      Really? This works for a deficiency?

      • Gary

        Yes, oral, or transdermal (through skin absorption) magnesium is helpful. Any form you can get helps. And it needs to be a daily routine. If you have a Mag. deficiency it is important to keep supplementing in order to outweigh the loss.

  • Brian

    If you take 5000 mg of it, it’s toxicity, not really an overdose, it’s better to have the maximum amount recommended like no more than 500 mg a day.

  • MieMieDressler

    Please help me find these products in the Colorado Springs area. I have a business and can buy at wholesale prices… i would rather buy the ingredients that are grown organically grown. in this elevation….

  • Melinda

    I am a type 2 58 yrs of age and female. On 8/30/13 I suffered shoulder fractures, 3 to be exact. I was looking for a supplement to take to help with future issues I will no doubt suffer, mainly arthritis. I have it now in many areas of my body. A friend told me about magnesium and how much it has helped him deal with his pain issues related to a few bad accidents he suffered over the years. Soooo, I thought that I would try it myself. I was only taking it for a few days when I received a message from my friend informing me of some dangerous side effects that could cause severe problems for diabetics. Do you have any info regarding these risks? I stopped taking it until I learn as much as possible. I should have done that prior to taking it but I was desperate due to the pain of this injury. Thanks all…

    • susan

      Turmeric for pain really works like a miracle for me! Fresh or the Spice. You need to take it with a bit of healthy fat like coconut or olive oil and black pepper to unlock the full effect. You can add it to most foods, yogurt, kefir, soups, stews, even mashed potatoes! It is very healthy and helps heal. I also made a poultice of coconut oil and turmeric powder for external application. Ginger is also said to be a good pain reliever. I didn’t need to try it.

      Can’t hurt anyway :)

  • kimberly

    I have osteoporosis all over my body real bad. I hurt so bad I dont have the words to explain it. I also have fibromyalgia amongst a host of other conditions. But almost 2 yrs ago I notice my hair falling out. On the pillow, in the shower, in the comb. Coming out in a very noticable way. I take supplements, too many to name and what I take them for. But it took until a few monthes ago to find out I was magnesium deficient. Many women getting a ‘bald spot’ is probably magnesium defidient. Then I read on 1 of my medicine reports from the pharmacy that it depletes magnesium! So I now make sure I take magnesium daily and eat foods weekly that are rich in magnesium!

    • Erwin Alber

      Hair grew back on a bald patch on my head after I applied coconut oil to it for some time.

    • susan

      Look up a couple of posts I made a comment about turmeric for pain.

    • Elaine

      I suffer from arthritis and fibromyalgia also so thanks for this information.

    • SuccumbToChange

      Look up ‘hyperparathyroidism’ if you haven’t already. Osteoporosis can be cured and the lost bone density substantially restored by getting a potential overactive parathyroid tumor removed.

  • cheeku

    This is gr8 information ,as these symptoms are so common .People above 50 definately suffer from this. Regards


  • Nathan

    Soybean should not be on the list… Unless fermented and non-GMO.

  • Karen Archibald

    Just have to respond to the "we get too much calcium in our diets" from Gary Hutch. I've been part of a two year cancer research project working directly with a nutritionist and lab work every other month, as well as recently getting all of my levels checked because I donated a kidney in May and my doctor wanted baseline levels on everything, including magnesium, potassium and calcium. Most women need to work at getting enough calcium in their diets. (Especially people like me who are lactose intolerant and don't do cheese or milk.) I have seen elderly woman with severe osteoporosis. NOT fun. – K. Archibald

  • Ken

    Chlorella is a great source of magnesium.

  • Guest

    I believe too much of anything is or can be harmful. Seek balance. All things are interconnected and work together. I also believe in slowly building up dosages.


    deficiencia de Magnesio

  • Kat

    Excellent article, as usual. Thanks for the information! Please work with an editor to fix the errors though because it is hard to take you seriously as a professional when you have multiple typos and mistakes.

  • sherrilyn

    I suffered from tiredness, memoryloss, uncertainty, tremor, internal trembling, etc. My friend recommended magnesium supplements; and in a short time I started feeling on top of the world again. My memory and confidence are restored!

  • adnetjm

    Taking a bath in Epsom salts, which is very high in magnesium is a fast way to get magnesium into the body. If you don't want to take a bath in it, soak your feet in a tub of about a 1/2 cup of the salts and, warm water. I also juice using foods that will not interfere with iodine uptake for the slow thyroid. You can look up goitrogenic foods or, Hypothyroidism. I also get a B-12 shot. Keeping my body alkaline is why my arthritis is no longer mine. Great website!

    • Maria

      my thyroid slow too. What do you take?

  • Kelly

    Yes, Magnesium is critical supplement that has been ignored. But along with Mg, we also are severely deficient in Boron. The parathyroid gland needs boron to balance systemic calcium-magnesium. With low boron, the parathyroid raises blood levels of calcium – which you can't possibly satisfy with supplements – so where does your body get the calcium? From your bones, joints and teeth! Take your magnesium with a bit of boron for better metabolic results. A great read by biochemist & nutrionist, Walter Last:

  • Guest

    Sorry, I didn't notice the last paragraph,so, uh, nevermind!

  • Guest

    Is there a clinical test that you recommend to determine magnesium levels in the body and what is the appropriate range?

    • maggie

      aim for 6 optimal 6.5 get it done through request a test. for a rbc test not blood serum that is useless. no need for a dr. as most wont no what that is anyway.

    • Su Fairchild, MD

      RBC magnesium is a better way to test for tissue magnesium levels. Serum magnesium is fairly useless.

  • Gary Hutch

    Well, magnesium deficiency causes a toxic increase of calcium. Too much calcium will cause heart failure. We get too much calcium in our diets. You really need to get this right, because your life depends on it. Calcium is a slow acting poison and excess is a predictor to coronary heart disease events. Magnesium dissolves calcium that would otherwise lodge in the body such as joints and HEART and LUNGS. Calcium is acidic, Magnesium is alkaline. The idea of “overdose” is about zero or even less than zero!

    We are ALL deficient of magnesium. There is a reason and all of this is explained in “Transdermal Magnesium Therapy” by Dr. Mark Sircus. It is ALL documented with 39 pages of endnotes that can be easily verified and it will change your world, believe me! I am 73 and my wife is 70 and we are told we never looked better and we sure do feel better! All my children and their families on this therapy and are like us, fit and healthy.

    We are ALL deficient in Magnesium and it truly is a miracle mineral and we have ALL been misinformed in our lifetimes about THE most IMPORTANT mineral that we need. AND, it is REALLY cheap and easy to absorb. Don’t let an uninformed comment scare you about this! GET THIS BOOK!! Then you will see why!

  • james landauer

    The 'signs' of magnesium deficiency are the same as the signs of almost any systemic illness. Therefore, because the NHANES series (in depth, population-based nutrition study of the American people) shows that two-thirds of the population consumes a magnesium-poor diet, supplementation is prudent. 300mg of magnesium oxide daily at dinner would go along way toward mitigating our universally low magnesium intake. A low magnesium intake is associated with asthma, pulmonary disease, migraine, osteoporosis, ischemic heart disease, sudden death, congestive heart failure, high blood pressure, diabetes, PMS, and assorted other maladies that I can't recall just now.

    • maggie

      mag oxide is great for poopin but that is all you need maltate, glycinate oxide is poorly absorbed it is only 4%.

      • Su Fairchild, MD

        I tell my patients to use any form BUT the oxide. Some people are magnesium deficient but yet are poor absorbers…even the slightest dose of oral magnesium gives them diarrhea, and yet their RBC magnesium is way low. These people need to use transdermal, IM, or IV magnesium.

  • Des

    Also, metals compete for absorption (i.e. calcium, zinc, potassium, magnesium). Supplementation with one can affect the other.

  • Des

    Careful here. The signs for deficiency are similar to the signs for overdose for magnesium.

    • jacki brown

      I thought they said you can’t overdose on magnesium ?