If you are searching for information on magnesium and how it affects the human body then this page is for you!
It contains everything you need to start learning just how important magnesium is for your health, including what happens if your magnesium levels dip too low.
In short, this page is designed to help you answer these questions:
- What is magnesium?
- Why is it important?
- What is magnesium deficiency and how can I prevent it?
The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be used in place of the advice of a healthcare professional. While my wife and I have been taking magnesium supplements every day for years, I can't say how they might affect you. Always consult a doctor if you have health concerns: don't try to self-diagnose!
What Is Magnesium?
Magnesium is one of the many nutrients the human body needs to survive. It is a mineral, similar to calcium and iron, meaning that unlike vitamins it is an inorganic material.
Magnesium is so important that it is required for over 300 different biochemical reactions. This is pretty amazing considering it is actually a metal!
What magnesium does for the body:
- Lowers blood pressure
- Assists with energy production
- Helps muscle and nerve functions
- Lowers the risk of type 2 diabetes by helping to control blood glucose
- Increases bone mineral density
... and the list goes on.
The Calcium And Magnesium Relationship
Calcium and magnesium actually work together to keep your body healthy. In general, calcium strengthens your bones and teeth while magnesium is critical to your muscles and brain, though the relationship between these two minerals and your body is much more complicated than this.
The two important points to remember are that calcium and magnesium each require the other in order to be absorbed by your body (vitamin D is needed as well), and that there needs to be a healthy balance between the two for them to be effective.
However, having too much of one of these minerals in your system can cause the other to not be absorbed at all. This is especially important to remember since many foods are fortified with calcium but not nearly as many are fortified with magnesium.
Quite simply, consuming too much calcium can lower your magnesium levels to the point of being magnesium deficient.
What Is Magnesium Deficiency?
Magnesium deficiency occurs when your body does not have enough magnesium for all the biochemical processes for which it is needed.
The US RDA for magnesium is 300-400mg daily. Consume (or absorb) less than this amount of magnesium for long enough and you run the risk of becoming deficient.
One of the most commons questions I get asked is about how to get tested for magnesium deficiency, which you can read more about here:
How much magnesium you consume is just one of many factors that determine your magnesium levels. Low magnesium levels have a number of possible causes:
And when your levels are low enough, magnesium deficiency can cause a wide range of symptoms:
I speak from experience when I say that being magnesium deficient is not fun. It is scary, confusing, and it has a huge impact on your quality of life. You can read about my experience with magnesium deficiency here:
Having been deficient myself, one of the other common questions I get is about magnesium supplements and how long it takes for them to kick in:
How Can I Prevent Magnesium Deficiency?
In general you can just eat a healthy, balanced diet with a lot of vegetables and nuts and you'll be fine. They key is to eat good healthy foods though, as most processed foods are devoid of magnesium.
This is a list of some of the foods with the highest magnesium content:
The thing to remember with magnesium is that it is a metal, so depending on what else you eat it can sometimes be tough for your body to absorb the magnesium you consume.
Or if you are like me then simply eating well may not be enough to keep your magnesium at healthy levels.
If that's the case then take a look at the list of the magnesium supplements that have helped me the most:
Where Can I Learn More About Magnesium?
If you've made it this far then hopefully I've given you a better understanding of just how important magnesium is to the human body, and if I've done my job well then you can now answer the question: what is magnesium deficiency?
As always, you are strongly encouraged to consult with your physician or other qualified medical professional to help determine your own optimal level of magnesium, and to see whether magnesium supplementation is right for you.