Health and Wellness

What are the symptoms of low magnesium in the body?

By Salt Lab | Published the 18th Jun 2021

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Do you find yourself tired but wired at night, tense and achy with poor recovery, unmotivated and agitated and overall feeling flat and exhausted? If you answered ‘yes’,’ then it could very well be that your body is struggling with the various ways in which a magnesium deficiency can manifest.

Magnesium is one of the most abundant minerals in our body, acting as a cofactor in more than 300 enzyme reactions - from protein synthesis and muscle function to blood glucose control and electrolyte balance. It’s required for energy production, structural development of our bones, muscle contraction and regulation of the hormones responsible for our sleep and mood.

Safe to say, magnesium is crucial for various aspects of our health and wellbeing, so what happens when we don’t have enough in our body?

As you can imagine, without sufficient magnesium, our body struggles - a lot. Which could very well explain what you’ve been feeling. Early signs of a magnesium deficiency often manifest in symptoms that are wide-ranging and can greatly affect our quality of life. Here’s what to look out for:

  • Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep - magnesium assists with our sleep quality in numerous ways. Not only does it work to calm our central nervous system and relax our muscles - encouraging our body to unwind for a deep, restorative sleep - but on a chemical level, magnesium plays a role in maintaining healthy levels of GABA, the neurotransmitter that promotes healthy sleep cycles. Without magnesium, we are prone to restless sleep or insomnia. Read more about it here.
  • Cognitive and mood disruptions -  a low mood, brain fog or difficulty concentrating, as well as poor memory, can all indicate a magnesium deficiency. This is because the brain relies on magnesium to relay signals between your brain and body through its regulatory effect on receptors which are found on our nerve cells that aid brain development, memory and learning. So without enough magnesium, you’ll find that your brain simply cannot perform as well as it should.  Magnesium also plays a key role in regulating the body’s stress-response system, so a deficiency is often associated with heightened stress, anxiety and/or depression.
  • Headaches and/or migraines - Magnesium deficiency leads to hyper-excitability of muscles and nerve fibres, as well as contraction of the smooth muscles in blood vessels surrounding our brain, making us susceptible to acute or chronic tension headaches and migraines. 
  • Twitchy eyes and muscle cramps - Since magnesium plays a crucial role in neuromuscular transmission and muscle contraction, magnesium deficiency may predispose you to unpleasant spasms and contractions, which may show up as a twitchy eye or frequent muscle cramps (most commonly in the calves or lower abdomen - especially for females). If you find yourself wildly thrashing around for relief from a cramp in the middle of the night, check out our blog on cramps for easy ways to find relief ASAP.
  • Restless legs - this itching, throbbing sensation in your legs forces you to wiggle and kick about, desperate for relief at night. Since magnesium relaxes muscles and improves nerve function, without it, we are at greater risk for this sleep & neurological sensory disorder.
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  • Sluggish digestion and/or constipation - magnesium relaxes almost every part of your body - including the walls of our intestines and bowels - making it much easier for your body to break foods down and pass them through without discomfort.⠀This assists with smooth transit and regular bowel movements, meaning that without adequate magnesium, we often find ourselves with sluggish bowel movements, trapped wind, constipation and subsequent bloating. If gut issues are one of your trouble areas (we know how common it is!), you’ll want to read more about how magnesium can help here.
  • Fatigue and weakness - since magnesium is necessary for energy production, without it our body struggles to generate enough energy to support our daily activities and bodily functions.  Paired with the sleep disruptions caused by low magnesium levels, and you’re left with a body that feels run down and depleted (and it quite literally is!).

You may also notice a lack of appetite, nausea, heart irregularities/palpitations and for females, worsened PMS. 

These symptoms can become progressively more debilitating and pervasive in your everyday life as the deficiency becomes more prominent, and habitually low intakes of magnesium induce changes in biochemical pathways that can increase the risk of various illnesses over time. So, ignoring the early warning signs is not worth the gamble - especially when magnesium is one of the easiest minerals to supplement with. 

Given the state of mineral depletion in our soils, diet alone is often not enough to reverse a deficiency (though it can help - here’s a magnesium-rich brownie recipe to get you started!), so supplementation with magnesium is the easiest and most effective way to make sure that you’re giving your body the magnesium it needs. Using our topical spray or bath salts means your body is given an opportunity to absorb just as much as it needs depending on how depleted its stores are - making it a safe way to boost your levels naturally and get you feeling fit, healthy and full of vitality again.  Don’t wait any longer.