Are You Low on Magnesium?

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Magnesium Benefits and Uses
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The answer is likely “Yes” that you are deficient in Magnesium.

Magnesium is the eighth most abundant mineral on earth, and the third most abundant in sea water. More importantly, it is the fourth most abundant mineral in the human body and it is necessary in over 300 reactions within the body.

Magnesium isn’t just abundant in the body, but vitally important too. As this article explains:

Every single cell in the human body demands adequate magnesium to function, or it will perish. Strong bones and teeth, balanced hormones, a healthy nervous and cardiovascular system, well functioning detoxification pathways and much more depend upon cellular magnesium sufficiency. Soft tissue containing the highest concentrations of magnesium in the body include the brain and the heart—two organs that produce a large amount of electrical activity, and which can be especially vulnerable to magnesium insufficiency.

Proper magnesium ratios are important for the body to correctly use calcium in the cells. Even a small deficiency can lead to a dangerous calcium imbalance and lead to problems like calcification and cell death. This manifests itself with symptoms like heart trouble, migraine headaches, muscle cramps and premenstrual cramping.

Where Has All The Magnesium Gone?

Unfortunately, most modern farming processes tax the soil, depleting it of its natural magnesium. On top of that, many hybrids are selectively bred to survive low levels of magnesium and most conventional fertilizers use nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus, and do nothing to replenish magnesium levels.

Water was once a good source of magnesium, but now:

Fluoride in drinking water binds with magnesium, creating a nearly insoluble mineral compound that ends up deposited in the bones, where its brittleness increases the risk of fractures. Water, in fact, could be an excellent source of magnesium—if it comes from deep wells that have magnesium at their source, or from mineral-rich glacial runoff. Urban sources of drinking water are usually from surface water, such as rivers and streams, which are low in magnesium. Even many bottled mineral waters are quite low in magnesium, or have a very high concentration of calcium, or both.

These additional dietary factors can also deplete magnesium:

  • Consumption of caffeine
  • Consumption of sugar (It takes 28 molecules of magnesium to metabolize a single glucose molecule! source)
  • Consumption of processed food
  • Consumption of alcohol
  • Consumption of produce from depleted soil
  • Consumption of foods high in phytic acid

Additionally, drugs like birth control pills, hypertension medicine, diuretics, insulin, and certain antibiotics (among others) deplete magnesium levels. Sweating often from exercise or other causes can also deplete magnesium.

What Does Magnesium Do?

Magnesium is necessary for hundreds of functions within the body, but is especially important for:

  • Gives rigidity AND flexibility to your bones (more important than Calcium in many cases)
  • Increases bioavailability of calcium
  • Regulates and normalizes blood pressure
  • Prevents and reverses kidney stone formation
  • Promotes restful sleep
  • Helps prevent congestive heart failure
  • Eases muscle cramps and spasms
  • Lowers serum cholesterol levels and triglycerides
  • Decreases insulin resistance
  • Can prevent atherosclerosis and stroke
  • End cluster and migraine headaches
  • Enhances circulation
  • Relieves fibromyalgia and chronic pain
  • Treats asthma and emphysema
  • Helps make proteins
  • Encourages proper elimination
  • Prevents osteoporosis
  • Proper Vitamin D absorption
  • protection from radiation
  • To aid weight loss
  • Lessen or remove ADD or ADHD in children
  • in proper digestion of carbohydrates
  • emerging evidence is showing a preventative role in many cancers
  • (source)

Even though magnesium deficiency is rarely addressed in medical settings, the National Institutes of Health website states that:

Some observational surveys have associated higher blood levels of magnesium with lower risk of coronary heart disease [50-51]. In addition, some dietary surveys have suggested that a higher magnesium intake may reduce the risk of having a stroke [52]. There is also evidence that low body stores of magnesium increase the risk of abnormal heart rhythms, which may increase the risk of complications after a heart attack [4]. These studies suggest that consuming recommended amounts of magnesium may be beneficial to the cardiovascular system.

Are You Low in Magnesium?

As I said above, the answer is likely ‘yes’ in today’s world, as over 80% of tested adults are. Unfortunately, blood tests are relatively ineffective in gauging magnesium levels as less than 1% of magnesium is in the blood.

Low magnesium levels are often diagnosed by symptoms alone, and the following symptoms can point to low magnesium levels:

  • Inability to sleep or insomnia
  • Irritability
  • Sensitivity to noise
  • Mental disturbances
  • Anxiety, depression or restlessness
  • Muscle soreness or spasms
  • Infertility or PMS
  • High levels of stress
  • Headaches
  • Heart “flutters” or palpitations
  • Fatigue or unusual tiredness
  • Coldness in extremities
  • Fuzzy brain or difficulty concentrating
  • Allergies and sensitivities
  • Lack of appetite
  • Back pain
  • Body odor
  • Bad short term memory
  • Poor coordination
  • Insulin resistance
  • Carbohydrate cravings
  • Constipation
  • Frequent cavities or poor dental health
  • Gut disorders
  • Kidney stones
  • Thyroid problems

If you have more than one of the above symptoms and especially if you have more than five, it is highly likely that you could benefit from magnesium supplementation.

How To Get Enough Magnesium

Unfortunately, magnesium is often not well absorbed by the digestive tract, and is even more difficult to absorb if you are deficient or are low in vitamin D, have poor gut bacteria or suffer from a number of other conditions.

On top of that, most foods are depleted of their natural magnesium levels and the water supply is lacking also. For this reason, I often use topical magnesium supplementation for our family.

There are several ways to supplement, and a mixture of more than one type of magnesium supplementation seems to be most effective. It is important to start slow and work up, as high doses will not be completely absorbed at first and most will be wasted.

Oral Magnesium Supplements

Leafy green vegetables, sea vegetables, kelp, and especially nettle are good dietary sources of magnesium, though if you have a deficiency, it will be difficult to raise your levels enough through diet alone. There is also evidence that over half of all magnesium taken internally is not used and leaves the body as waste. I take this timed release formula and B-vitamins and folate for better absorption. (I like it so much I reached out to them and they offered a 10% discount for Wellness Mama readers with the code wellness10.) Another great magnesium option is from BiOptimizers.

Transdermal Magnesium Supplements

Unlike internal doses of magnesium, topical magnesium does not have to pass through the digestive system and kidneys and can more quickly enter the blood and tissues of the body.

I now cycle a quality magnesium supplement like the one above with topical magnesium spray. I find topical to be the most effective (and cost effective!). You can make your own magnesium spray using this recipe or can try these hand-crafted jars of Magnesium Lotion as well.

Healthy Magnesium Levels: Bonus Benefit!

In fact, I was suffering from low vitamin D for years despite spending regular time in the sun and taking supplemental D3 at the suggestion of my doctor. Magnesium is needed for proper vitamin D absorption and it wasn’t until I increased my use of magnesium on my skin that my vitamin D levels finally went up.

If you’d like to learn more about the importance of magnesium and its various actions in the body, I’d suggest the book The Magnesium Miracle by Carolyn Dean as well as listen to my short podcast episode on magnesium.

Do you take magnesium? Have you noticed any benefit? Share below!

Magnesium deficiency can lead to health problems. Find out the best source of magnesium and how to optimize your magnesium levels.
Katie Wells Avatar

About Katie Wells

Katie Wells, CTNC, MCHC, Founder of Wellness Mama and Co-founder of Wellnesse, has a background in research, journalism, and nutrition. As a mom of six, she turned to research and took health into her own hands to find answers to her health problems. is the culmination of her thousands of hours of research and all posts are medically reviewed and verified by the Wellness Mama research team. Katie is also the author of the bestselling books The Wellness Mama Cookbook and The Wellness Mama 5-Step Lifestyle Detox.


435 responses to “Are You Low on Magnesium?”

  1. Jenni Avatar

    The photo says “How to Make Your Own…” but I don’t see the instructions to make my own. What am I missing?

  2. Elena Avatar

    I stumbled upon this blog and can’t help but wonder what your science and nutrition background is? What kind of science education do you have that qualifies you to make these interpretations? As a molecular biologist, I have to disagree with some of your claims and you definitely should not be suggesting any sort of medical remedies, homeopathic or not.

    1. Brooke Avatar

      Freedom is risky, huh? But, we live in America where we, as individuals, at the current moment, get to choose who we listen to on health topics, what websites we read, and most of what goes into our bodies. If you don’t like it, there are plenty of tyrannical countries around the world that will tell you who to listen to and what to think 🙂

  3. Chez Avatar

    Taking magnesium supplements (pill form, 400Mg/day) has almost completely alleviated my IBS symptoms. I started taking magnesium as recommended by a neurologist to help with migraines, and happened upon this beneficial “side effect.” There is actually a theory that IBS might BE magnesium deficiency. I have not noticed other benefits though, and I suffer from fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome. Perhaps a different form of magnesium would help.

  4. Lena Avatar

    You Said Magsium Tests Are Inaccurate, But Then Say That Over 80% Of Tested Adults Are Magnesium Deficient. If The Test is Inaccurate, How Did This Number Come about?

  5. Jennifer Storie Lamkin Avatar
    Jennifer Storie Lamkin

    Can I take Magnesium 400 mg while breastfeeding? My multivitamin has only 2% of my daily allowance.

  6. Jia Avatar

    I used your link for Natural Calm in order for you to get your commission. Where is the recipe to make my own magnesium oil as your title reads “How to Make Your Own Magnesium Oil, Improve Sleep And How To reduce Stress With This Simple Remedy”.

  7. Aime Avatar

    I have been using the oil after every shower and just started incorporating the liquid into my diet and have noticed a huge improvement! I have been putting it in my scrambled eggs, and am wondering if I’m damaging or lessening the effectiveness by cooking it? My husband is lazy and doesn’t remember to put the oil on so I’m trying to get magnesium in him by any means possible to help him with sleep so I’m hoping it’s still working in the eggs!!
    My sleep is so much better, as well as my mental clarity! Thank yoU!

  8. Alien Avatar

    Hi, I don’t know if this is still being replied to, but I’ll try anyway. Do you think I can take the Magnesium supplements or whatever wile taking Concerta 36mg (ADHD meds that bore me senseless)

  9. Chris Olson Phillips Avatar
    Chris Olson Phillips

    I’ve looked through this several times, and cannot find instructions on how to make magnesium oil, which is the heading of the article. Did I miss a link or misunderstand the heading? Is there a recipe/instructions?

  10. angiiee Avatar

    I have been diagnosed with ADHD in adults, the inattentive type. For this I have been taking 20 mg of Adderall XR for about 10 months. I’ve been thinking about quitting my medication, because I know it has a lot of negative effects on the brain over time. Over the past few months I have noticed almost all of those symptoms, not just a little either.. They are all pretty bad and seem to just get worse as time goes on. Would you know if magnesium would help me if I decided to stop taking my meds and treat it naturally?

  11. Natalia Adarova Avatar
    Natalia Adarova

    I found out that a cup of restaurant brewed decaf espresso contains 16,000 mg of magnesium ( Other sources also rank it as exeptionally high. I am not a big fan of coffee, but apparenly it is the richest source of magnesium that exist in food. However everyone says that coffee depletes magnesium. They mean, caffeine? Then what about decaf coffee, which is not diuretic? Can anyone enlighten me, please? i am confused. There must be a way to get that magnesium out, if it is there.

  12. Jason Farmer Avatar
    Jason Farmer

    I just started taking magnesium two days ago. Already, I can have broken my spell of non-elimination (pooping! now I can…you can too) and feel my legs recovering more quickly from strenuous race training. Thanks for this article

  13. michaela Avatar

    Hi, I would be most grateful for your opinion and advice on a related topic.
    I recently started taking magnesium supplements as I read it could help with PMS but within a few days I started to feel very anxious with really strange, vivid dreams each night. I’m convinced that the two are related as my body is extremely sensitive to any thing I put in it. What do you think?
    Considering potential side affects, would Epsom Salts and magnesium oils be a better way for my body to absorb magnesium?

    1. Charly Avatar

      Hi Michaela,
      I’m experiencing the same side effects from taking a powdered magnesium supplement. Crazy, vivid dreams, and last night I woke up in the middle of the night practically hallucinating – I couldn’t come out of that heavy, dreamy state. It was very unsettling. I’ve vowed not to take any more magnesium orally, but I do want to continue supplementing. Did you try any transdermal versions? Did it help with alleviating your dreams?

  14. Lily Avatar

    FYI to women with prolapse issues! I tried supplementing with magnesium (via mag oil and Natural Calm) and liked it EXCEPT that it worsened my bladder prolapse. Since it relaxes your muscles so well, many symptoms that I had improved via exercise returned while using the magnesium. Fortunately, it was only temporary – when I stopped using it, the prolapse was back to the “new normal” that I’ve been working on healing since the birth of my DD. I was disappointed because the mag definitely helped with anxiety and sleep. I know that many women with prolapse use magnesium and don’t have this issue, but it’s something to be aware of!

  15. Farnal Avatar

    Where is the recipe or method on how to make the magnesium oil yourself? Did I miss something somewhere? The photograph says how to make it yourself…help?Thanks 😀

  16. Christa Avatar

    I was looking over my Maca supplement and it says that in the ingredients it includes Magnesium Stearate – is this enough Magnesium or do you suggest not taking this? (it’s supposed to be good for libido! 🙂 )

    1. Wellness Mama Avatar
      Wellness Mama

      It’s fine to take but probably not enough magnesium by itself..

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