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6 Signs You're Not Getting Enough Magnesium + What To Do About It

Kimberly Evans, M.S., R.D.
June 29, 2016
Kimberly Evans, M.S., R.D.
Registered Dietitian
By Kimberly Evans, M.S., R.D.
Registered Dietitian
Kimberly Evans, M.S., R.D., has been a registered dietitian for 27 years and co-owner of Whole Health Nutrition in Burlington, Vermont.
Photo by Stocksy
June 29, 2016

The reflection in the mirror may not only be good feedback about how perfectly you’ve applied your makeup or how fab you look in your favorite outfit. There may also be some valuable feedback about how well you have been fueling yourself.

Diets that are lacking key nutrients will be reflected as physical signs and symptoms that we can learn to pay attention to. Unfortunately, it is very easy to miss out on important minerals like magnesium. Magnesium is vital to many functions of the body, so when you don’t have enough, you can start to feel and look crummy.

Unfortunately, magnesium is often deficient in today’s diet due to soil depletion and lack of consumption of magnesium-rich foods. Here are six surprising signs that you are magnesium-deficient and things you can do to make a change:

1. Fatigue

It’s common for people to feel wound up from a long day, making it difficult for them to sleep. Magnesium can help!

It plays a key role in the function of your central nervous system, so when you are lacking it, you may wake up frequently throughout the night, causing constant tiredness and irritability throughout the day.

To get a dose of magnesium just before you doze off to help combat cramping, indulge in a little dark chocolate as your post-dinner snack, or enjoy a handful of pumpkin seeds. I’m sure we won’t have to force you!

2. Restless legs

Ever experienced intense pain from a muscle cramp in your calf muscle? Studies show that when you are lying in bed at night and your calf muscles cramp up, it could be directly related to magnesium deficiency. Magnesium is in the business of relaxing your muscles, so without it, you may experience painful cramping.

So what can you do to avoid this? Incorporate more dark leafy greens into your diet. This will help you to raise your magnesium levels, which will, in turn, reduce muscle cramping by relaxing your muscles.

3. High blood pressure

High blood pressure can quietly damage your body before you have noticeable signs. Even those who eat mindfully and exercise sometimes still have high blood pressure. Why? They might need more magnesium! Magnesium relaxes your blood vessels, so without it, they constrict, causing high blood pressure.

In combination with a healthy diet and exercise, consider taking supplemental magnesium, because even though you are eating clean, you are missing this key mineral.

4. Dizziness

Extreme dizziness, often called vertigo can be caused by a lack of magnesium. Magnesium encourages electrolyte balance, which can help someone avoid dizziness.

Also, without the presence of magnesium, the brain can misconstrue signals and think that there is movement of fluids in the inner ear when that is actually not the case, causing vertigo or dizziness.

How can you fix the dizziness? You can fix it by eating more fish! Fish is a great source of magnesium that encourages the brain’s recognition of sensory signals.

5. Stress

Let’s face it, the signs of stress aren’t pretty. Worry lines, weight gain, and general tension in the body all show up when you’re stressed. And, in today’s busy world, stress is hard to avoid.

Instead of taking care of ourselves, many of us turn to coffee, sweet treats, and martinis to calm the nerves. Stress also causes the body to “waste” magnesium because it’s recruited in high demand during times of stress. Adding magnesium-rich foods to the diet can help keep our nervous system calm and happy.

Try a whole grain or lentil salad as a magnesium-rich lunch option. My summertime favorite is Mediterranean Lentil Salad.

6. Belly bloat

Keeping your digestive system in good working order just might be the key to a happy and healthy life.

The gut is, after all, the small brain of your body. When digestion slows down, so does your energy. Magnesium relaxes the muscles of your intestines, which promotes peristalsis, making bloating and slow digestion unlikely.

Some more good sources of magnesium to incorporate into meals to improve your digestive health include yogurt, bananas, and dried fruit.

Kimberly Evans, M.S., R.D. author page.
Kimberly Evans, M.S., R.D.
Registered Dietitian

Kimberly Evans, M.S., R.D., has been a registered dietitian for 27 years and co-owner of Whole Health Nutrition in Burlington, Vermont. She recently graduated with a master's in health care administration from Marlboro College.