Signs of magnesium deficiency and best supplementation (Part 1) by Kylene Bogden

Mineral deficiencies are much more common than you might think, with magnesium being one of the most prevalent. From joint pain to difficulty sleeping, magnesium deficiency can wreak havoc on the body.

I’ve actually experienced many of these symptoms myself. Fortunately, this is an easy deficiency to fix and supplementation does not have to be expensive. 

Even better, I’m going to show you how to make delicious magnesium chewables at home. So, keep reading to understand the signs of magnesium deficiency and best supplementation to help you sleep better and get on track to optimal health.

Signs of magnesium deficiency

Headaches, muscle spasms and insomnia can really cramp your style when it comes to productivity and performance. While most of us would be inclined to try pain relievers, sedatives, or visit a doctor’s office for a prescription, these are often signs of a magnesium deficiency. More importantly, while medications may mask the symptom, the underlying problem remains, so symptoms return quickly.

Other signs of magnesium deficiency often include asthma, anxiety, osteoporosis, irregular heartbeat and high blood pressure. Believe it or not, all of these issues can be further exacerbated or magnified with magnesium deficiency.

Since we are in the business of fixing the root cause here at FWDfuel, the primary focus should be on modifying your diet and regular food patterns to include more magnesium. Magnesium can be found in a number of foods, such as nuts, seeds, beans, lentils, wholegrains like quinoa and brown rice, most fruit, dark chocolate, dark leafy greens, and molasses.

However, for some of you, it can still be difficult to ingest enough magnesium to meet the needs of your body due to high training demands. When you’re unable to consume enough magnesium through food, additional supplementation may be necessary in order to prevent a decline in sleep, productivity and performance. This is the reason why signs of magnesium deficiency are all too common in highly active individuals.

Why is magnesium so important?

Believe it or not, magnesium is used by every cell in the body and is the second most prevalent mineral inside human cells. Magnesium plays a role in over 300 enzyme reactions in the body each day! So, what does this really mean?

Magnesium supports fuel provision. Magnesium takes the nutrients that we eat every day and plug them into our cells for useable energy. This is why many people who are deficient in magnesium experience fatigue and sometimes even difficulty losing weight.

Magnesium assists with electrolyte balance. One of magnesium’s primary roles is to regulate mineral balance within each cell. Adequate magnesium levels help to ensure that the balance of sodium and potassium is in check. If magnesium is too low, potassium will leave our cells at a high rate through the urine, thus leading to a potassium deficiency. Magnesium is also responsible for regulating the amount of calcium in our body. This is critical for optimal bone and heart health.

Believe it or not, magnesium is our DNA’s guardian. Magnesium stabilises our DNA structures and assists in repairing any DNA damage caused by outside environmental sources. Our bodies sometimes take a pounding from the poor quality of air that we breathe and the water that we drink. You may also be living or working in a building with poor air quality. Perhaps you sunburn easily. These are all situations where magnesium can play a protective role.

Why are so many athletes deficient in magnesium?

1) Magnesium is excreted in sweat and urine. Active individuals tend to sweat heavily during exercise, thus losing higher amounts of magnesium. We often forget that magnesium is a key electrolyte. Potassium and sodium steal the spotlight a little more than they should sometimes.

2) During intense physical exertion, magnesium gets transported. Magnesium travels from the blood plasma into the red blood cells as activity increases. This is your body’s compensation mechanism because there is a loss of energy when your body is experiencing lower levels of oxygen. The more intense the activity, the harder you breathe. The harder you breathe, the more magnesium finds a new home in red blood cells. The magnesium demand is highest for those training more than two hours a day or those training in humid or sunny environments.

3) Many athletes are deficient because their basic needs are higher. Elite athletes have a higher turnover of energy. They are typically running faster and farther, lifting heavier, and the duration of their workouts usually far exceeds that of the average adult. Hence, they have an even greater need for magnesium supplementation.

4) On the whole, there are many lifestyle habits associated with being an athlete that tend to deplete magnesium. Drinking alcohol, carbonated beverages and caffeine being one. Eating sugar-laden, processed food products being number two. These habits can block absorption of magnesium and are often consumed in place of magnesium-rich food sources.

Kylene Bogden is a Registered Dietitian and functional sports nutrition expert, based in the United States.

For more information about Kylene and her very progressive company, FWDfuel Sports Nutrition, click here.