Magnesium is an essential micronutrient that intervenes in numerous enzymatic and metabolic processes essential for the proper functioning of the body. Generally, we get the amounts we need daily through a varied diet, however, although it is not too frequent, sometimes, we can experience a deficiency in magnesium that ends up affecting our own health. Correcting the low levels of this mineral is important, since its deficit can trigger or worsen the prognosis of different pathologies, from hypertension or osteoporosis to muscle ailments related to cardiovascular health.
Discover in this article the causes, symptoms and what to do in the absence of magnesium.
Causes of magnesium deficiency
Wondering what magnesium is and what it is for? Well, there are many physiological processes that require the presence of magnesium in the body in sufficient quantities to develop and fulfill its function, since there are numerous properties of magnesium. Through a balanced diet we ingest the mineral, which is absorbed through the small intestine and “filtered” by our kidneys, which are responsible for eliminating, through the urine, the amounts of magnesium that may be excessive. This natural process can be altered for different reasons, causing the necessary levels of magnesium to fall and it is essential to replace them, in addition to finding out the origin of the deficiency.
On numerous occasions magnesium deficiency is related to different problems:
- Malabsorption of the mineral or with pathologies of the digestive system that make that absorption do not take place in the correct way.
- Irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, episodes of chronic diarrhea or celiac disease are some of the most frequent alterations that can trigger a lack of magnesium.
- It can also happen that the absorption occurs without problems, however, for some reason, the body expels an abnormal amount of this mineral causing its deficit.
- Kidney disorders or diseases, excessive urination (polyuria), hyperhidrosis, or abnormally high sweating can be caused by low magnesium levels.
Possible origins of the scarce presence of magnesium:
- Excessive intake of alcoholic beverages.
- Severe malnutrition.
- Intake of certain medications, especially laxatives and some antibiotics.
- Presence of burns on much of the body.
- Hormonal disorders, especially those related to the thyroid gland.
- Certain types of untreated diabetes.
Symptoms of magnesium deficiency
Detecting and diagnosing magnesium insufficiency is not easy, because the symptoms of this deficiency are very varied and, in addition, they can be more or less evident or alarming depending on the degree of deficiency. These are as follows:
- Fatigue and feelings of weakness with no apparent cause can be a sign that the body is not taking the number of essential micronutrients it needs, including magnesium, especially if they are accompanied by other worrying symptoms, such as loss of appetite (special attention to the diet of the elderly) or gastrointestinal problems (vomiting, diarrhea…).
- You should also know that magnesium intervenes decisively in the connections established by the nervous system to trigger movement and achieve the proper functioning of muscles and joints. In this regard, one of the most common symptoms of magnesium deficiency is the sensation of tingling or numbness in the extremities, as well as frequent muscle contractions, pulls or cramps. These symptoms can put athletes or people who perform intense physical activity on a daily basis.
- Among the most serious symptoms we must also highlight persistent headaches and increased blood pressure that can affect even the heart rate.
- Magnesium plays a determining role not only in physiological functions, but also in mental processes, therefore, an inexplicable irritability, difficulty concentrating, sudden mood swings or difficulty falling asleep can be manifestations of low level of magnesium in the blood.
What to do if you have a lack of magnesium
In the face of the most severe symptoms, medical consultation and tests such as blood and urine tests are essential to determine magnesium levels and establish the possible causes of too low an index. The specialist will be the one who determines if you need and how to take magnesium with a food supplement that includes this mineral and thus achieve a healthy level.
Luckily, there are many foods that can provide significant amounts of magnesium, therefore, in the event of a lack, the simplest and healthiest solution is to resort to them. A diet rich in magnesium should include green leafy vegetables, such as spinach or watercress, legumes such as lentils, chickpeas or beans, fruits such as bananas or avocados, whole grains and, also, nuts such as almonds or pistachios, among others. In the case of athletes, isotonic drinks are also of great help to replenish the mineral salts eliminated during exercise, avoiding symptoms of magnesium loss such as muscle cramps.