Magnesium Deficiency Symptoms

Which mineral are humans most deficient in?… Arguably its magnesium. If you live in the GTA, Toronto, Niagara, Burlington, Hamilton, or Buffalo, and you would like to identify the severity of magnesium deficiency and other common or hidden nutritional deficiency syndromes, you might consider the advantages the advanced clinical nutrition approach.   

Magnesium Deficiency: How Common?

Only ~10% of North Americans achieve the recommended daily allowance of magnesium.  Modern diets are low in magnesium which is found in green leafy vegetables, legumes, seeds, nuts, meat, seafood, chocolate, and whole versus refined grains.

70% of the body’s enzymes require magnesium to function.  Muscle cells require magnesium to relax.

Magnesium is associated with a diversity of symptoms because its role in the body is extensive and because our food intake (~200mg) is well below that which our body minimally demands (~300-450mg/day).  Excess calcium intake can intensify our magnesium inadequacy.  Modern day diets (high in refined carbs and dairy) provide us with a 4.8:1 calcium/magnesium ratio versus the 1.3:1 calcium/magnesium ratio of our ancestors.

Magnesium Deficiency Under the Radar

Standard blood serum magnesium testing is a poor indicator of magnesium deficiency because only 1% of body magnesium is in the serum.  Hair tissue mineral magnesium is a better indicator of deficiency status.

Magnesium Deficiency: The BodyMindLink

Common symptoms of magnesium deficiency include problems staying asleep, muscle cramping/tension/twitching/spasming/pain, restless legs, constipation (pelleted stools), and stress.

Often overlooked symptoms/conditions of magnesium deficiency include stress, heart disease, vascular headaches, menopause related hot flashes and night sweats, osteoporosis, increased urinary frequency, and shortness of breath (sighing).

Magnesium Deficiency & Stress

Magnesium deficiency is associated with our body’s inability to utilize B vitamins, especially thiamin (B1).  This translates into greater likelihood of anxiety, depression, and sleep problems.

Magnesium Deficiency & Heart Disease

The decline in magnesium intake over past century is associated with higher heart disease incidence.

Magnesium deficiency is associated with heart disease contributors including arterial calcification and elevated blood pressure.

Increased blood pressure is associated with calcification or the hardening of the arterial walls.  Combine this with a situation where the arterial wall smooth muscle doesn’t relax and you end up with a vascular system that is less elastic and has high blood pressure.  Magnesium is also depleted with most blood pressure medications.

Arrhythmias and palpitations can be caused by a lack of consistent smooth muscle arterial relaxation.

Lack of relaxation of the smooth muscle in the arteries surrounding the head predisposes us to vascular headaches.  This is also a common magnesium deficient symptom.

Magnesium Deficiency in Menopause

Estrogen is protective to women as it increases the body’s absorption, storage, and utilization of magnesium.  Post-menopausal women have lower estrogen levels and therefore naturally magnesium deficient, predisposing them to heart disease and osteoporosis.

Menopause hot flashes and night sweats can be tamed with magnesium because sweat glands depend on magnesium to relax.

Magnesium Deficiency & Increased Urinary Frequency

Many people prefer not to drink water before bed because it forces them to wake up to urinate.  The detrusor muscle in the urinary bladder wall does not relax without magnesium and the nerve impulse to urinate is triggered early due to greater pressure inside the bladder.

Magnesium Deficiency & Shortness of Breath

The lack of relaxation of upper body muscles can cause shortness of breath.  If you have shoulder tension or sigh often you might also be magnesium deficient.


The BodyMindLink series by Dr Ray Pataracchia ND provides insight on Naturopathic approaches that matter and have the potential to benefit general and mental health.   Clinical approaches discussed are implemented by the Naturopathic Medical Research Clinic (NMRC) in Toronto, Ontario.  This clinic treats a wide array of health conditions. 

Disclaimer: Information provided is not to be used for self-assessment, diagnosis or treatment.  We advise readers to discuss these topics with their health care provider or book an appointment with our Toronto clinic.