How To Spot Magnesium Deficiency

Carolyn Dean MD ND, Medical Advisory Board Member, Nutritional Magnesium Association

Magnesium is a crucial mineral that allows the proper functioning of over 325 enzyme systems in the body. The most touted aspect is the ability to relax muscles to prevent heart attacks and high blood pressure.

The list of health benefits of magnesium is very lengthy. In my book, The Magnesium Miracle I give two sets of lists.

  1. The conditions proven scientifically to be caused or triggered by magnesium deficiency.
  2. The 100 factors that can promote magnesium deficiency.

Magnesium deficiency triggers or contributes to the following 22 conditions:
1. Anxiety and Panic attacks
2. Asthma
3. Blood clots
4. Bowel disease induced by constipation
5. Cystitis and bladder spasms
6. Depression
7. Diabetes
8. Fatigue
9. Heart disease
10. Hypertension
11. Hypoglycemia
12. Insomnia
13. Kidney stones
14. Migraine headaches
15. Musculoskeletal conditions- Fibrositis, fibromyalgia, muscle spasms, eye twitches, cramps and chronic neck and back pain
16. Nerve problems- migraines, muscle contractions, gastrointestinal spasms, and calf, foot and toe cramps, vertigo and confusion
17. Premenstrual Syndrome, dysmenorrhea, infertility, premature contractions, preeclampsia, and eclampsia in pregnancy.
18. Osteoporosis
19. Raynaud’s Syndrome
20. Sudden infant death syndrome
21. Tooth decay
22. Toxicity

The most frequent questions I’m asked about magnesium is “How do I know I need more magnesium?” And “Should I take magnesium supplements?” I have come to the conclusion that everyone could benefit from extra supplementation. However, there is a long list of possible symptoms that can identify your need for magnesium. The following 100 factors in 67 categories can help identify magnesium deficiency. There’s no way of knowing how many factors correlate with any one person’s magnesium deficiency, but if you find yourself ticking off a few dozen symptoms, you may want to see how many symptoms improve when you take magnesium supplements.

1. Alcohol intake—more than 7 drinks per week
2. Anger
3. Angina
4. Apathy
5. Arrhythmia of the heart
6. Asthma
7. Anxiety
8. Blood tests

  1. Low calcium
  2. Low potassium
  3. Low magnesium

9. Bowel problems

  1. Undigested fat in stool
  2. Constipation
  3. Diarrhea
  4. Alternating constipation and diarrhea
  5. IBS
  6. Crohn’s
  7. Colitis

10. Brain trauma
11. Bronchitis-chronic
12. Caffeine-coffee, tea, chocolate—more than three servings per day
13. Chronic fatigue syndrome
14. Cold extremities
15. Concentration poor
16. Confusion
17. Convulsions
18. Constipated
19. Depression
20. Diabetes

  1. Type I
  2. Type II
  3. Gestational diabetes

21. Fibromyalgia
22. Food Intake:

  1. Limited in green, leafy vegetables, seeds, & fresh fruit
  2. High protein

23. Food cravings:

  1. Carbohydrates
  2. Chocolate
  3. Salt
  4. Junk food

24. Gagging or choking on food
25. Headaches
26. Heart disease
27. Heart—rapid rate
28. High blood pressure
29. Homocysteinuria
30. Hyperactivity
31. Hyperventilation
32. Infertility
33. Insomnia
34. Irritability
35. Kidney stones
36. Medications—taking

  1. Digitalis
  2. Diuretics:
  3. Antibiotics,
  4. Steroids
  5. Oral contraceptives
  6. Indomethacin
  7. Cisplatin
  8. Amphotericin B
  9. Cholestyramine
  10. Synthetic estrogens

37. Memory impairment
38. Menstrual pain and cramps
39. Migraines
40. Mineral Supplements

  1. Take calcium without magnesium
  2. Take zinc without magnesium
  3. Take iron without magnesium

41. Mitral valve prolapse
42. Muscle cramps or spasms
43. Muscle twitching or tics
44. Muscle weakness
45. Numbness of hands or feet
46. Osteoporosis
47. Paranoia
48. Parathyroid hyperactivity
49. PMS
50. Polycystic ovarian disease
51. Pregnancy

  1. Currently pregnant
  2. Pregnant within one year
  3. History of preeclampsia or ecclampsia
  4. Post partum depression

52. Cerebral palsy
53. Raynaud’s syndrome
54. Radiation therapy-recent
55. Restlessness
56. Sexual energy diminished
57. Shortness of breath
58. Smoking
59. Startled easily—by noise
60. Stressful life or circumstances
61. Stroke
62. Sugar—high intake daily
63. Syndrome X
64. Thyroid hyperactivity
65. Tingling of hands or feet
66. Transplants

  1. Kidney
  2. Liver

67. Tremor of the hands
68. Water that contains:

  1. fluoride
  2. chlorine
  3. calcium

69. Wheezing

Endless lists may not be an elegant way to present vital information about magnesium. However they serve to hammer home the importance of magnesium and hopefully encourage you to do more research on this topic. One place to start is the non-profit website, where you can obtain a free eBooklet that I wrote on magnesium; view videos; read articles and testimonials on how magnesium is saving lives.

It’s difficult to get enough magnesium in the diet to even meet the minimum RDA requirements. It’s been farmed out of the soil and eliminated from most processed foods.

The only side effect from magnesium is a laxative effect if you take a large amount at once. But that can only be a benefit to someone who’s chronically constipated. The only people who should avoid self-administering magnesium are those with heart block (the type that requires a pacemaker), myasthenia gravis (because their muscles are already too relaxed), bowel obstruction and people on kidney dialysis.

A 32-page guide to the benefits of magnesium and how to avoid osteoporosis, strengthen bones naturally and support a healthy heart is available as a free download at

Medical Disclaimer:

The content of this article and any associated web site has not been evaluated by the FDA, is not intended to treat, diagnose, cure or prevent any disease and is provided for educational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you have regarding a medical condition, and before undertaking any diet, exercise or other health program.

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