Symptoms of Magnesium Deficiency

Symptoms of Magnesium Deficiency

Last update: 03 April, 2015

As magnesium does not normally appear in blood tests, magnesium deficiency is hard to diagnose. Many doctors don’t analyse the bloodstream for magnesium. Only 1% of magnesium is stored in the blood stream, so it is difficult to know if you have a deficiency.

Many people may suffer from magnesium deficiency, so it is important to know the symptoms.

What you need to know about magnesium deficiency

Magnesium is an incredibly important mineral in your body. Magnesium is important for development and regulates calcium, sodium, and potassium.

A common symptom of magnesium deficiency is extreme thirst. This means you will drink a lot of water or fluids on a daily basis. This is due to the body needing hydration as it doesn’t have the required nutrients from food.


Magnesium deficiency may affect your sleep, cause fatigue and stress. The very first symptoms are generally very subtle. Then come the leg cramps, pain or twinges in the muscles. More extreme symptoms include numbness, tingling, convulsions, spasms or abnormal heartbeats.

All of your body can be affected by magnesium deficiency, in particular your muscles. This is why pain, tension, cramps and muscle spasms may occur. Headaches and tightness in the chest may also happen which can make it a struggle to breathe deeply.


It can also cause constipation, menstrual cramps, spasms when urinating, difficulty swallowing, high sensitivity to noise, insomnia, anxiety, panic attacks, hyperactivity, agoraphobia, PMS and tingly feelings.

Magnesium deficiency can also result in palpitations, chest pain and hypertension.

Why magnesium is important

Your body requires magnesium to function properly. Magnesium is vital for enzymes to function and it is essential in producing energy. If the body does not get enough magnesium then all systems within the body are affected. Water high in magnesium can prevent this.

A lack of magnesium could trigger diabetes. Several studies have suggested that those with a magnesium deficiency were more prone to suffer from blood sugar problems.


How to eat more magnesium rich foods

The recommended amount of magnesium is 280 milligrams for women (pregnant women should consume 350) and 300 milligrams for men.  Nuts, such as almonds, cashew and walnuts and legumes are a great source of magnesium.

A magnesium rich daily food diary could contain the following:

  • Breakfast: a green tea with two slices of wholemeal toast
  • Mid-morning snack: a handful of nuts
  • Lunch: Tuna, rich and raw spinach with a nut based bar or muffin for dessert
  • Snack: low fat milk with cereal and an apple
  • Mid-afternoon: oatmeal cookies and a few raisins
  • Dinner: grilled chicken breast with salad and a handful of strawberries for dessert.

magnesium foods

Images courtesy of Iain Buchanan, IUCN Web, Christopher, Eunice, Steve Parker.