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You may not be as familiar with magnesium as you are with better-known minerals such as iron, calcium, and zinc. But magnesium is incredibly important for many of the body’s functions—it plays a key role in your immune system, nerves, and muscles, and helps keep your heart and bones strong. In all, magnesium is involved in more than 300 of the body’s biochemical reactions. But important as magnesium may be for keeping you healthy, U.S. Department of Agriculture dietary surveys show about half of all Americans are taking in less of it than they should.

Here are some key symptoms to look out for that could indicate if you are deficient:

12 Fatigue

Being tired and feeling lethargic is not uncommon, and it can be easy to blame fatigue on several factors from stress at work or a busy schedule to not sleeping well or running around with your kids. But, one of the most common and early symptoms of a magnesium deficiency is fatigue. Because just about everyone feels tired at some point and the cause could be from so many different things, it’s difficult to come to the correct diagnosis. A magnesium deficiency likely isn’t the first thing your doctor is going to check, and unfortunately, the fatigue won’t go away until your body gets the right amount of magnesium in it.

Since magnesium helps produce and transport energy, an insufficient level can easily result in feeling tired and weak. To keep your energy levels where they should be, you need to be getting enough magnesium. If you aren’t low in magnesium but experience fatigue often, sometimes magnesium supplements can be used to relieve fatigue. Talk to your doctor before starting any new supplements.

11 Insomnia

Having a magnesium deficiency can cause insomnia in several different ways. As we mentioned earlier in this article, low levels of magnesium can result in muscle spasms. This is because the body needs a sufficient amount of magnesium in order to control electrical conduction in the neurons in the muscles, which will then lead to a prolonged opening of calcium channels and increasing muscular activity. This causes restless leg syndrome, a condition that causes the legs to move involuntarily during the night.

This form of insomnia caused by a magnesium deficiency is indirectly related, but a lack of magnesium is also known to directly cause insomnia as well.

10 Arrhythmia

Magnesium plays a vital role in overall heart health. It’s vital for proper muscle contraction, and a low level can affect your body’s most important muscle — your heart. Arrhythmia is an irregular heartbeat, and magnesium directly helps you maintain a normal heart rhythm. Some studies have shown that maintaining a regular level of magnesium may even prevent some heart problems and diseases, including arrhythmia. In fact, magnesium is often used in medical settings when managing patients with arrhythmias.

There have been a lot of studies focused on how magnesium affects your heart, specifically if it can prevent heart disease or lower the risk of a heart attack. While nothing is guaranteed and no heart is the same, some of these studies have shown a positive effect on heart health and prevention of heart disease with an increased magnesium intake. Some doctors even prescribe magnesium for patients who are at risk of cardiac arrhythmia.

9 Nausea

Similar to vertigo, if you have a low magnesium level, you may experience nausea. Although these symptoms are considered an early warning sign, they are not necessarily severe symptoms of magnesium deficiency. Constantly feeling nauseous is quite simply unpleasant, even if it isn’t a considered severe symptom, and can greatly impact your routine.

For those who suffer from regular nausea, it’s worth asking your doctor about other potential causes, such as magnesium deficiency. Like many other symptoms, there can be a variety of causes and your magnesium level may be overlooked.

8 Personality Changes

It might seem bizarre and definitely not the first cause you’d jump to, but believe it or not, personality changes are a warning sign of a magnesium deficiency. Significant personality changes, including abnormal amounts of confusion and irritability, can seem to come out of nowhere. Simple things can seem overwhelming and make you feel out of sorts. You’ll likely be able to notice the change but are unsure of how to fix it. Since many things can cause symptoms like this, a magnesium deficiency is often not considered when trying to diagnose personality changes.

On top of these personality changes and periodic mood swings, the lack of sleep discussed earlier could cause a mood change if it happens often, ultimately affecting both your personal and professional relationships. Sleep is vital for your mental, physical and emotional health. So, if a magnesium deficiency is what’s keeping you up at night, it’s important you get your magnesium up to a sufficient and healthy level.

7 Muscle Spasms and Cramps

Muscle spasms and cramping are not only uncomfortable but also quite painful. They’re uncontrollable and unpredictable and not something you can simply ignore and get on with your day. While athletes often suffer from muscle cramps due to inadequate stretching, dehydration, overexertion, and lack of proper diet, many other people suffer from them. As a result, it can be hard to figure out why and how to prevent them. When a magnesium deficiency worsens, muscle spasms and cramping can be a sign of the deficiency. So, if you suffer from regular cramping and spasms, this could be a warning sign of low magnesium levels.

While getting your magnesium levels to where they should be will likely ease your symptoms, you can try to get short-term relief by stretching and massaging the affected muscles. Vitamins D, E, and B complex also play roles in preventing muscle cramps, so make sure you get your daily recommended dose of these vitamins to help ward off cramping.

6 High Blood Pressure

A study published in the American Journal of Hypertension conducted an experiment where the correlation between levels of blood pressure and levels of magnesium intake was analyzed. The results were that the individuals with the healthiest blood pressures had the highest levels of magnesium. As a result, those with low levels of magnesium had high blood pressure.

A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition concluded that eating magnesium-rich foods (approximately 100 mg a day) would decrease the risk of having a stroke by 8-percent.

5 Osteoporosis

A deficiency in magnesium can also increase your risk of developing bone problems such as osteoporosis, “a disease characterized by low bone mass and deterioration of bone tissue, which can lead to increased risk of fracture,” defines Osteoporosis Canada.

There are a couple of reasons for this observation. The first is that the bones store large amounts of magnesium. So when levels of the mineral are low for a prolonged period of time, it can lead to bone loss. Another reason is that a magnesium deficiency can lower the level of calcium in the blood, and calcium is essential to the maintenance of strong bones.

4 Constipation

There are a wide variety of reasons you may be experiencing constipation, from stress to inadequate fiber intake to consuming too much dairy. Certainly, having a magnesium deficiency isn’t the first culprit to come to mind, but it may very well be why you’re having trouble passing bowel movements.

Magnesium has a relaxing effect on many parts of the body, including the digestive tract. So if you’re not getting enough of the mineral, these muscles contract more, making it difficult for waste to move through the system and resulting in constipation.

3 Acid Reflux

Magnesium plays a key role in muscle relaxation throughout the body. This includes the valves at the top and bottom of the stomach, which allow food to move through the body.

However, if you have a magnesium deficiency, NaturalLife.org says these sphincters “cannot properly contain the food,” thus allowing food and stomach acid to flow back into the esophagus. This results in a burning sensation, which is clinically referred to as acid reflux or heartburn. Unfortunately, if the cause of your acid reflux is a magnesium deficiency, the source indicates that most over-the-counter medications can actually worsen these symptoms. So be sure to speak with your doctor before self-medicating to remedy the problem.

2 Decreased Appetite

A loss of appetite is sometimes an early sign of a lack of magnesium. This decreased appetite is often accompanied by fatigue and nausea.

A decreased appetite can also further contribute to a magnesium deficiency even further if you’re unable to eat enough foods that contain magnesium. Foods that are hearty in magnesium that could be good to incorporate into your diet include spinach, legumes, nuts, whole grains, and fortified breakfast cereals.

1 Weakness

A general feeling of weakness is often reported by those who have been diagnosed with a magnesium deficiency. This feeling can often be accompanied by muscle cramps, fatigue, and stiffness as well.

If you feel a generalized sense of weakness in the body, this could be an early sign of a magnesium deficiency and could be worth consulting a doctor if symptoms don’t disappear within a few days.

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