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Signs and Symptoms of Magnesium Deficiency (And 16 Benefits of Magnesium Glycinate)

Do you have muscle cramps? Numbness or tingling? Constantly feel tired? Get eye twitches? Or feel irritable and lethargic?

Although there could be different reasons for feeling any of these symptoms, all of the above are also symptoms of magnesium deficiency.

Magnesium deficiency, or hypomagnesemia, often goes as an unidentified or overlooked issue.

Research suggests that close to 75% of Americans are not meeting their recommended intake of magnesium.

And this is a problem, as magnesium is an essential mineral, critical for optimal metabolic function in the body. It's surprising how much more energized, focused, and happy you can feel once your magnesium levels are elevated.

In this post, we'll talk about why magnesium is critical to the body, cover the signs and symptoms of magnesium deficiency, and the potential therapeutic role and benefits of magnesium glycinate in treating a number of health conditions.

Table of Contents

Why Magnesium is SO Important for the Body

Magnesium is the fourth most abundant mineral in the human body after calcium, phosphorus, and potassium, respectively.

It ranks as one of the most important trace minerals in the human diet and is literally found everywhere, from the earth and sea to plants and animals, and in the human body.

In humans, around 60% of magnesium content is in the bones, with the rest being in muscles, tissues, and fluids including blood.

Without magnesium, the cells in our body would simply not be able to function.

Magnesium is involved in the function of 600+ critical enzymes in the body, acting as a helper molecule in the body's continuous biochemical reactions, for:

  • Energy metabolism: Converts food into energy
  • Protein synthesis: Uses amino acids to create proteins
  • Gene synthesis: Creates and repairs RNA and DNA
  • Muscular actions: Contracts and relaxes muscles
  • Bone development: Supports structural growth and maintenance of bones
  • Glutathione production: Plays a role in glutathione creation, a chemical known as the body's "master antioxidant."
  • Nerve transmission: Regulates neurotransmitters that send messages to the brain and nervous system
  • ...and more!

Magnesium Deficiency Causes

Since so many people do not get their daily intake of magnesium, it has raised concerns about what could be the possible causes of magnesium deficiency.

A lot of the causes of magnesium deficiency circle around poor nutrition, and not getting enough magnesium in the diet.

One study really puts things into perspective when it comes to reduced levels of magnesium in food by stressing that:

"Previous to 1905, grains were not refined and there was adequate magnesium (over 400 mg per day) in the diet. At that time, refining was necessary to prevent spoil-age. One hundred years later, only 16% of the magnesium found in whole wheat grain remains in refined flour, lowering dietary intake of magnesium in some severe cases by 250 mg per day and setting the stage for magnesium deficiency."

It also states that many city-level and even residential water treatment systems remove all minerals from drinking water, which adds to the problem. On top of that, soil depletion also reduces the amount of magnesium present in foods.

In addition to the above, some medications such as diuretics may also be to blame for magnesium deficiency, as well as those who are chronically alcoholic, are more at risk.

Gastrointestinal (GI) diseases such as Crohn’s disease, celiac disease, and poor digestion can also impair magnesium absorption. Type 2 diabetes can stimulate the kidneys to expel more urine, due to high blood glucose levels, which can also excrete magnesium in the process.

Lastly, as we get older, the gut does not absorb as much magnesium and coupled with a diet low in magnesium-rich foods, this can lead to low levels of magnesium.

Signs and Symptoms of Magnesium Deficiency

Magnesium deficiency often goes unnoticed, especially in the early stages, but if you have some of the following signs, they could be symptoms of magnesium deficiency.

If you have low levels of magnesium you may feel the following symptoms:

  • fatigue
  • weakness
  • stiffness
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • loss of appetite

As magnesium deficiency increases you might also experience:

  • numbness
  • tingling
  • muscle cramps
  • muscle spasms
  • personality changes
  • blurry vision
  • abnormal heart rhythms
  • seizures

How to Detect Magnesium Deficiency

One of the ways to detect magnesium deficiency is through a simple blood test. Your health care practitioner may order a blood test if you're experiencing the above symptoms, and especially if you have diabetes or kidney issues.

The blood test for magnesium deficiency is also referred to as a “total serum magnesium test,” and the procedure is similar to any other blood test, where a needle is inserted into a vein in your arm, and a sample of blood is collected.

So, should you test for magnesium deficiency?

According to Dr. Lara Briden, a seasoned naturopathic doctor, the serum magnesium blood test may not accurately detect a deficiency and may be misleading. Another test called the “red blood cell magnesium,” test is a little more accurate but not easy to get, and "may still fail to detect a whole-body magnesium deficiency."

She suggests that "one way to know if you might be deficient in magnesium is to try taking a supplement and see how you feel."

Treatment for Magnesium Deficiency

If you have low magnesium you can increase your dietary intake of magnesium-rich foods or take oral magnesium supplements.

Consumer Reports suggests that 50% of all Americans, and close to 70-80 percent of those over the age of 70 are not meeting their daily recommended magnesium intake.

There are many magnesium-rich foods that you can add to your diet to increase magnesium levels.

Foods for Magnesium Deficiency

Low in magnesium? Grab a banana or pack a handful of almonds for lunch.

The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) of magnesium is outlined by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) below, across different ages in both men and women.

In general, green leafy vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds, legumes, and foods rich in fiber are all good sources of magnesium.

Below are some top foods for magnesium deficiency with their percent daily values (DV):

  • Boiled spinach, ½ cup — 19%
  • Dry roasted almonds, 1 ounce (2 tbsp) — 19%
  • Dry roasted cashews, 1 ounce (2 tbsp) — 18%
  • Peanut butter, 2 tbsp — 12%
  • Pumpkin seeds, 2 tbsp — 12%
  • 70-85% dark chocolate, 1 ounce — 12%
  • Cooked chickpeas, ¾ cup — 9%
  • Plain, low-fat yogurt, 1 cup — 10%
  • Canned kidney beans, ½ cup — 9%
  • Medium-sized banana — 8%
  • Milk, 1 cup — 6%

Although you can get some of your daily magnesium intake from food, experts suggest that you may still need to supplement as magnesium is "depleted by stress."

Supplements for Magnesium Deficiency

Although most people don't have seriously low magnesium levels, enough to be classified as hypomagnesemia,  the amount of magnesium we do get from our diet may not be enough to provide therapeutic value. 

So, even though you might be eating a healthy diet, you may not be getting the magnesium levels needed to make a difference.

Research suggests that close to 75% of Americans are not meeting their recommended intake of magnesium.

In fact, research shows that "the mineral content of magnesium in food sources is declining, and that magnesium depletion has been detected in persons with some chronic diseases."

That is why you may consider or talk to your health care provider about high-quality supplements for magnesium deficiency if you can't get therapeutic levels of magnesium from your diet.

Experts like Dr. Briden suggest that magnesium is safe for long-term supplementation, but those with a chronic kidney condition should avoid it. She recommends gentler forms of magnesium like magnesium glycinate at 300mg/day directly after food.

Next, we'll explore the different health conditions that magnesium supplements like magnesium glycinate may help support and alleviate.

Comparing Different Types of Magnesium Supplements

If you search for magnesium supplements in the market you'll see that there are different types of magnesium supplements to choose from, which can make it confusing to understand which type of magnesium supplement may be right for you.

Some of these supplement types include magnesium citrate, magnesium oxide, and magnesium glycinate.

Magnesium Citrate is by far the most popular type of magnesium supplement and is easily absorbed, however the citrate content in this supplement can be a mild laxative and cause loose stools.

Magnesium oxide is used for more short-term symptoms such as heartburn and constipation and is not absorbed well by the body. It isn't really a good choice if you're looking to raise your magnesium levels.

Magnesium glycinate is very easily absorbed and is a combination of magnesium and glycine, an amino acid that aids in protein construction.

As per integrative medicine doctor, Dr. Bindiya Gandhi, magnesium glycinate has "higher bioavailability and is gentle on your stomach, unlike other forms of magnesium."

That is why most people opt to use magnesium glycinate rather than other types of magnesium supplements as it is the most easily absorbed form of magnesium, and is also easy on the tummy, and does not cause side effects such as loose stools or an upset stomach.

Benefits of Magnesium Glycinate

Glycine, the amino acid, found in magnesium glycinate, is often used on its own to treat insomnia and treat inflammatory conditions such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Studies show that "There are overwhelming reports supporting the role of supplementary glycine in prevention of many diseases and disorders including cancer. Dietary supplementation of proper dose of glycine is effectual in treating metabolic disorders in patients with cardiovascular diseases, several inflammatory diseases, obesity, cancers, and diabetes. Glycine also has the property to enhance the quality of sleep and neurological functions."

Magnesium glycinate has demonstrated calming properties and can help in reducing stress, alleviating anxiety and depression, and inducing sleep.

Below, we'll take a look at all the benefits of magnesium glycinate for a variety of health conditions.

Magnesium Glycinate for Eyes

A magnesium deficiency can lead to eye problems such as eye twitching, and visual migraines, and supplementing with magnesium can help to alleviate these issues and even help with degenerative eye conditions such as glaucoma.

Eye Twitching

Magnesium can help to calm the muscles and serves as a muscle relaxer. So, when it comes to your eyes, increasing magnesium can help with conditions such as eye twitching and even blepharospasm, an advanced form of eye twitching.

Research shows that eye twitching is widely considered to be one of the symptoms of a magnesium deficiency, and also indicates that there is an imbalance in the calcium/magnesium levels in the body.

Calcium and magnesium need to be in balance as they serve opposite functions — calcium contracts muscles, and magnesium relaxes muscles.

To keep levels proportionate, it is recommended that your magnesium intake should be 1/2 or 2/3 of your calcium intake. So if you take 400mg of magnesium daily you should take around 800-1000mg of calcium.

Coming back to eye twitches, low magnesium levels in the body may cause nerves to send incorrect signals to the muscles, and along with eye twitching, this can also lead to leg and muscle cramps.

Visual Migraines

In this article, the author talks about how a magnesium deficiency caused debilitating visual migraines, that were alleviated after supplementing with magnesium.

She states, "Personally, I’ve experienced magnesium deficiency first hand. When I was in my mid-twenties, I developed visual migraines. If you’ve experienced one of these, you know it can be quite debilitating. In my case, I did not suffer from severe headaches, but from visual discomfort. This made it virtually impossible to focus on anything until it passed.

After much research on the topic, I found evidence that a magnesium deficiency could contribute to migraines. After a neurologist confirmed what I had suspected, I began to supplement magnesium at bedtime. At this point, I’ve not had a visual migraine in over five years. On top of that, my experience helped me understand how nutrient deficiencies can impact our health."

Studies have shown that magnesium may, "prevent the wave of brain signaling, called cortical spreading depression, which produces the visual and sensory changes that are the common forms of aura," when someone experiences a migraine.

Glaucoma

Magnesium has also shown promise in the treatment of glaucoma.

Research suggests that magnesium may serve as a "therapeutic agent in glaucoma" as it has "shown to improve the ocular blood flow in patients with glaucoma and may protect the retinal ganglion cell against oxidative stress and apoptosis."

Magnesium Glycinate for Muscles, Joints, Restless Legs

Do you get frequent leg cramps? Or find it hard to sleep due to restless legs at night? One reason could be that you are low on magnesium.

Muscle Cramps

Of the hundreds of biochemical reactions that magnesium is responsible for, one of its key functions is to regulate nerve transmission, calm the nerves, and relax muscles and joints. Magnesium also works with other key essential minerals like calcium and potassium, in making sure your muscles (including your heart) function properly.

One study in 80+ women who suffered from pregnancy-induced leg cramps, showed that both the frequency and intensity of the leg cramps were reduced, without major side effects, by oral magnesium supplementation of 300mg daily for a month.

The study also showed a 50% reduction of cramp intensity than in the placebo group.

Restless Leg Syndrome

Restless leg syndrome causes an uncontrollable urge to move your legs, mainly when you sleep at night. It is described as a "pins and needles" feeling and happens during periods of inactivity. It usually leads to insomnia, as people have to keep moving their legs to relieve the uncomfortable sensations.

Although more conclusive studies are needed to show magnesium's effectiveness in reducing muscular cramps and restless leg syndrome, one study found that magnesium was a helpful natural remedy.

Magnesium Glycinate for Heart Palpitations

Heart palpitations are irregular heartbeats, which may feel like your heart is beating unusually fast, skipping a beat, fluttering, racing or pounding.

Magnesium is important for heart health because it helps transport electrolytes such as calcium and potassium into the cells in the body.

Electrolytes are critical for regulating nerve and muscle functions, body hydration as well as blood pressure balance.

Research shows that low magnesium levels can increase irregular heartbeats or arrhythmias.

In a review titled, Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease: Screening for Magnesium Deficiency, researchers found that magnesium is an "important cardiovascular regulator, acting to maintain electrical, metabolic, and vascular homeostasis."

The image below shows the many roles of how magnesium impacts the cardiovascular system.

The review also demonstrated how magnesium deficiency or low-serum magnesium levels are associated with atrial fibrillation, an irregular, quivering, and rapid heart rate caused due to disorganized electrical signaling, which may increase the risk of heart disease, stroke, and other complications.

Magnesium Glycinate for Blood Pressure

Magnesium may help to regulate blood pressure, as it works alongside calcium to control blood pressure levels and prevent hypertension (high blood pressure).

Magnesium helps to transport essential electrolytes, which help regulate nerve functions, muscles, and also balance blood acid levels and blood pressure.

An analysis of 12 different trials found that 243 to 973 mg/day of "magnesium supplementation for 8–26 weeks in 545 hypertensive participants resulted in only a small reduction (2.2 mmHg) in diastolic blood pressure."

Although more studies are warranted, it is clear that deficiencies in magnesium can increase the risk of heart disease, hypertension, arrhythmia, and other heart-related conditions.

Magnesium Glycinate for Diabetes

Magnesium has shown to promote blood sugar control in those with type 2 diabetes, and those with insulin resistance.

Magnesium helps to metabolize glucose (break down sugar), which may help to decrease insulin resistance.

One study shows that hypomagnesemia, or a severe magnesium deficiency, might worsen insulin resistance.

Diabetes also leads to increased urination, which increases magnesium excretion through urine, further impairing insulin function, and worsening the control of diabetes symptoms.

Magnesium Glycinate for Migraines

Magnesium deficiency has shown to play a negative role in causing migraine headaches for a few reasons.

Magnesium deficiency can:

  • Increase muscular tension
  • Affect neuromuscular coordination
  • Prevent brain signaling
  • Disrupt nerve transmission
  • Alter the release of neurotransmitters
  • Cause blood pressure imbalances
  • Change the formation of blood platelets

Due to the multifaceted role of magnesium in relieving migraines, experts suggest that supplementing with magnesium "in both acute and preventive headache treatment has been researched as a potentially simple, inexpensive, safe and well-tolerated option."

In an article by the American Migraine Foundation, "studies of migraineurs have found low levels of brain and spinal fluid magnesium in between migraine attacks."

Oral magnesium supplementation has also demonstrated effectiveness for premenstrual migraines.

Another ground-breaking study titled Why All Migraine Patients Should Be Treated With Magnesium, suggests that "magnesium deficiency may be present in up to half of migraine patients, and that routine blood tests are not indicative of magnesium status, empiric treatment with at least oral magnesium is warranted in all migraine sufferers."

If you suffer from migraines or headaches it is generally recommended to take a magnesium supplement "at a dose of 400-500 mg per day."

Magnesium Glycinate for Osteoporosis

Magnesium has shown to alter bone mineral density (BMD), and those with higher levels of magnesium may have a lowered risk of osteoporosis, a condition in which bones become very weak and brittle, and lesser bone fractures.

Magnesium is also important for supporting healthy bones, as magnesium plays a role in bone formation, and "affects the concentrations of both parathyroid hormone and the active form of vitamin D, which are major regulators of bone homeostasis."

Studies have also shown that women who have osteoporosis had lower magnesium levels than those with osteopenia (loss of bone mass, and a precursor to osteoporosis), and also women who did not display either condition.

One study also showed that around 180g/day of oral magnesium supplementation for 30 days helped to suppress bone turnover in twenty postmenopausal osteoporotic women.

These studies suggest that low magnesium levels may be a risk factor for osteoporosis.

Magnesium Glycinate for PMS and Menopause

Evidence-based research suggests that "magnesium deficiency may play an important role in several clinical conditions concerning women health such as premenstrual syndrome, dysmenorrhea, and postmenopausal symptom."

Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)

Magnesium deficiency may be an underlying cause of aggravating PMS (premenstrual syndrome) symptoms. Supplementing with magnesium may potentially offer relief to women suffering from PMS due to its ability to relax muscles and ease pain and inflammation.

Daily magnesium supplementation has shown to relieve menstrual cramps, by relaxing the muscles in the uterus and decreasing prostaglandins, responsible for causing menstrual pain.

Other research suggests that magnesium supplementation works well when combined with Vitamin B6 to reduce PMS symptoms.

Menopause

Magnesium has shown to improve bone mass in postmenopausal women. Since it also helps to relax and soothe muscles and ease joint pain, it can be especially helpful in menopausal women with sleep problems and body aches and pains.

Menopause may also cause more headaches and migraines, which magnesium can help to relieve.

One study also showed that magnesium helped to alleviate hot flashes in menopausal women undergoing breast cancer treatment, who could not take hormone replacement therapy.

If you suffer from PMS or menopausal issues, experts recommend taking 300mg of magnesium glycinate daily, directly after food.

Magnesium Glycinate for Anxiety

Magnesium glycinate is the perfect form of magnesium to take for anxiety as it is a combination of magnesium and the amino acid glycine — both of which have demonstrated to have calming, and relaxing properties.

Glycine is used on its own to treat sleep problems, and has demonstrated the "property to enhance the quality of sleep and neurological functions."

And, since magnesium helps to relax muscles and calm nerves, the combination of both magnesium and glycine becomes even more powerful in treating conditions like anxiety.

A review study also showed that magnesium supplementation may help to "attenuate anxiety symptoms," and also alleviate symptoms related to anxiety such as pain, cravings, and feeling restless.

According to this study, one of the key reasons why magnesium might be effective in reducing anxiety is because of its positive effect in regulating neurotransmitters and improving brain function.  

Magnesium Glycinate for Depression

Serotonin is the "happy hormone," in the brain that makes you feel good, helps balance mood, and supports feelings of well-being.

Low levels of magnesium seem to decrease levels of serotonin, and one study showed that supplementing with 248mg of magnesium for 6 weeks "is effective for mild-to-moderate depression in adults."

The key aspects to note in this study are that magnesium supplementation did not only help alleviate mild to moderate depression but also improved anxiety scores, as well as reduced muscle cramps, and decreased headaches, symptoms which have already shown to improve with magnesium supplementation.

In fact, over 60% of participants said they would continue supplementing with magnesium after the trial period. Another advantage the study reported is that magnesium is "well tolerated without the need for close monitoring for toxicity."

Another article further emphasized that increased stress can increase magnesium loss, which might not be readily replaced in the body. It stressed that "since magnesium is such an important mineral to the brain as a part of almost every part of the stress response, recovery, and repair, it seems self-evident to study magnesium as how it relates to brain function and common stress-related ailments such as clinical depression."

A key research study strongly suggested that "most cases of major depression, including postpartum depression, may be related to magnesium deficiency."

It concluded that people should be advised to attain "more than 600 mg of dietary magnesium" daily, to treat major depression, related mental health illnesses, memory and IQ loss, and addiction.

Magnesium Glycinate for Sleep and Memory

The combination of magnesium and glycine is very powerful for alleviating insomnia and regulating sleep.

Sleep

Magnesium glycinate helps to relax muscles, reduce muscle spasms, promote muscle relaxation, calm the nerves, and reduce anxiety, which can all lead to a better night's rest.

Magnesium plays an important role in regulating GABA (Gamma-Aminobutyric acid) levels in the body, an essential amino acid, and neurotransmitter, which plays a key role in calming the mind and body for restorative sleep.

A double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial in elderly participants suffering from insomnia showed that 500mg of magnesium daily for 8 weeks improved, "sleep efficiency, sleep time and sleep onset latency, early morning awakening, and likewise, insomnia objective measures such as concentration of serum renin, melatonin, and serum cortisol."

Memory

Because magnesium improves sleep quality it also helps you to feel more energetic during the day, increasing concentration and leading to better learning and memory retention.

Research has shown that 125–300 mg of magnesium glycinate taken with every meal and at bedtime, not only helped with IQ and short-term memory loss, but is an effective treatment for depression, irritability, anxiety, insomnia, substance abuse, and other mental health issues.

Magnesium Glycinate Dosage

The Food and Nutrition Board (FNB) at the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies has established the tolerable Upper Intake Levels (ULs) for Magnesium Supplements as seen below for healthy infants, children, and adults (both men and women):

1–3 years: 65 mg

4–8 years: 110 mg

9–18 years: 350 mg

19+ years: 350 mg

Based on the research studies we mentioned above, therapeutic levels of 400-500mg can be taken for migraine sufferers, mental health problems, and to alleviate insomnia.

Magnesium Glycinate Side Effects

Talk to your health care practitioner before supplementing with magnesium if you suffer from a kidney disorder, renal impairment, or are taking heart medication or any other prescription drugs.

Excess magnesium does not usually pose a risk in healthy individuals as the kidneys usually excrete the excess amounts in urine.

The most common side effects of supplementing with magnesium are digestive problems, such as cramping, nausea, and loose stools. However, these are mainly caused by magnesium supplements such as magnesium citrate, magnesium carbonate, magnesium chloride, magnesium gluconate, and magnesium oxide.

Magnesium glycinate has demonstrated to have the lowest side effects and does not cause upset stomach even when taken in higher dosages. That is why it is considered to be a good choice for those with gastrointestinal problems, over other types of magnesium supplements.

Where to Buy Magnesium Glycinate

When trying to find the best brand of magnesium glycinate, you need to look out for a few things.

Firstly, you should opt for magnesium glycinate over other types of magnesium supplements due to its bioavailability, easy absorption into the body, and gentle effect on the stomach — in other words, this is the preferred form of magnesium that your body handles the best.

But all magnesium glycinate supplements available in the market are not created equal. Some contain additives like soy, cholesterol, gluten or GMOs, that you should steer clear from.

Also, it's important to choose a chelated magnesium supplement, meaning that it is in a form that can be easily absorbed by the body.

Our VibraxLabs Magnesium Glycinate is the REAL DEAL containing no GMOs, is gluten-free, and contains absolutely no preservatives or additives. Made in the USA!

Why VibraxLabs Magnesium Glycinate Supplements?

  • 120 - 400mg magnesium glycinate tablets
  • Fewer side effects than other types of magnesium
  • Chelated for superior absorption
  • Small, easy-to-swallow tablets
  • No soy, cholesterol, gluten or GMOs
  • Third-party tested for purity
  • Vegan-friendly
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Key Takeaways

  • Research suggests that close to 75% of Americans are not meeting their recommended intake of magnesium. 
  • Magnesium is the fourth most abundant mineral in the body responsible for the function of 600+ critical biochemical reactions. 
  • Magnesium deficiency may be caused by poor diet, soil depletion, refined foods, treated water, and certain medical conditions 
  • Symptoms of low magnesium include fatigue, muscle cramps, stiffness, blurry vision, heart flutters and more 
  • You can get magnesium from green leafy vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and legumes but supplemental therapeutic doses may be needed to treat health conditions 
  • Magnesium glycinate is the preferred form of magnesium due to its bioavailability, easy absorption into the body, and gentle effect on the stomach 
  • It can help to alleviate eye twitching, visual migraines and may be promising to control degenerative eye conditions such as glaucoma 
  • Magnesium glycinate also helps relieve muscle cramps, protects the heart, alleviates migraines and supports women's health issues like PMS and menopause 
  • It is excellent for treating anxiety, depression, insomnia, boosting sharp thinking and memory, and general brain health 
DISCLAIMER

GoodLifeProvision is not a doctor, and this information shouldn't ever substitute professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have questions, seek the help of your physician or qualified health provider. 


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