10 Warning Signs of Magnesium Deficiency

Low magnesium is known in research circles as the silent epidemic of our times. Many of the signs of low magnesium are not unique to magnesium deficiency, making it difficult to diagnose with 100% accuracy. Thus quite often low magnesium levels go completely unrecognized and untreated.

signs-of-magnesium-deficiency

Signs of Magnesium Deficiency

Chronic low intake of magnesium is not only extremely common but linked to several disease states, indicating the importance of considering both overt physical symptoms and the presence of other diseases and conditions when considering magnesium status. Here are 10 warning signs of magnesium deficiency.

1. 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 signs of 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 its system.

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.

2. Anxiety and Panic Attacks

Everyone experiences a bout of anxiety or panic once in a while, but if you’re experiencing it regularly, it could be due to a magnesium deficiency. You may be quick to blame anxiety on the everyday stress of balancing your personal and professional life and schedule, but you could consider the role a magnesium deficiency has in causing anxiety and panic attacks, especially if you aren’t typically prone to panic and anxiety. Unfortunately, if you’re suffering from anxiety, the stress can dwindle your magnesium levels, making it a vicious cycle–low magnesium causes anxiety and depletes your magnesium reserves during the attack.

There are a lot of different symptoms of a panic attack, some of which include difficulty breathing, a racing heart, chest pains, an intense rush of fear or dread, tingling in your limbs and trembling, among other uncomfortable and terrible feelings. Although they typically only last a few minutes, each second can feel like a lifetime and you end up feeling completely emotionally drained. They typically only last a few minutes but each second can feel like a lifetime. Talk to your doctor if you experience these symptoms, especially if they happen often.

3. Muscle Cramping and Twitching

There’s a good reason why magnesium is found in sleep supplements and used to ease women in labor; magnesium is the mineral that allows our muscles to relax. When we are deficient in it, we begin to suffer from muscle-related issues such as cramping, twitching and facial tics. In the most extreme cases, the twitching and cramping can contribute to chronic insomnia.

4. Abnormal Heart Function

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 arrhythmia.

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 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.

5. Ringing in the Ears

Tinnitus is an unpleasant condition characterized by a persistent ringing or booming sensation in the ears. Though tinnitus is sometimes caused by infection, it can also be caused by unregulated production of glutamate, an important neurotransmitter that magnesium helps regulate. Therefore, instances of tinnitus in otherwise healthy ear canals could be caused by low magnesium levels.

6. Numbness

Magnesium is one of the most abundant and important minerals in your body, responsible for over 300 biochemical reactions. So it’s not hard to believe that having a deficiency can greatly impact your overall health. Since magnesium impacts your nervous system, tingling and numbness can be a warning sign of a deficiency, particularly as it worsens. Without sufficient magnesium in the body, it can prevent nerve and muscle functions to act and react properly. A lack of magnesium can also prevent your body from sending the proper signals, resulting in numbness and tingling. It’s common to feel these symptoms in your face, feet and hands.

7. Kidney Stones

Most people believe that kidney stones are caused by an excess of calcium. However, ongoing research continues to show that a lack of magnesium plays an equal, if not greater, role in kidney stone formation, and that taking magnesium supplements can help treat them. For example, a study featured in The Journal of Urology showed that patients treated with magnesium hydroxide experienced decreased recurrence rates of renal calcium stones. Therefore, if you’re suffering from kidney stones, see if increasing your magnesium intake helps.

8. Nausea and Vomiting

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

For those who suffer from regular nausea and/or vomiting, 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.

An interesting but possible cause of nausea and vomiting related to magnesium is that you could experience these symptoms if your levels are too high, not just when they’re too low. That said, you’re unlikely to get these symptoms from the magnesium you absorb through food. Other supplements and certain types of medication could cause your magnesium levels to spike if you’re taking a magnesium supplement.

9. Personality Changes

It might seem bizarre–and definitely not the first cause you’d jump to–but personality changes are a warning sign of 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 you may feel out of sorts, and you’re likely to notice the change but are unsure of how to fix it or what’s causing it. And since many things can cause symptoms like this, a magnesium deficiency is often not considered when trying to diagnose the change in personality.

On top of these personality changes and periodically mood swings, magnesium deficiencies can make it difficult to sleep. Just this disruption alone could cause personality changes if it happens often, ultimately affecting both your personal and professional relationships. Since sleep is vital for your mental, physical and emotional health, 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.

10. Dizziness

Sometimes dizziness hits you when you stand up too fast and it quickly goes away. But when you have a magnesium deficiency and you experience dizziness because of it, it unfortunately doesn’t disappear–it can last all day without relief, and it can be hard for your doctor to diagnose properly because so many things can cause dizziness. As a result, magnesium deficiency is often overlooked when trying to diagnose and fix the problem. Low magnesium levels can give you similar feelings as vertigo, making you feel not only dizzy, but completely off balance. If you’re experiencing dizziness, it could be a warning sign of magnesium deficiency.

As a magnesium deficiency worsens, so do the symptoms. You could experience light and manageable dizziness in the beginning, but it can fully transform into vertigo if your levels continue to decline. Vertigo can completely alter your life when you have it. It could make you unable to do regular day to day activities and miss work when it’s at its worst. If you’re experiencing dizziness, it’s worth a visit to your doctor.


Many of the signs of low magnesium are not unique to magnesium deficiency, making it difficult to diagnose with 100% accuracy.