Magnesium deficiency: beware of these 3 mineral thieves

Many people suffer from a magnesium deficiency without knowing it. With targeted measures, magnesium reserves can be replenished.

Magnesium plays an important role in the body, as it is involved in a wide variety of bodily processes. The organism cannot produce the mineral itself, so it is dependent on the supply from the outside. If there is a magnesium deficiency in the body, numerous symptoms can become noticeable. A balanced mineral level is elementary for the maintenance of bodily functions. myvial addresses the 3 biggest mineral thieves and shows which magnesium preparations are best suited to restore the mineral balance.

Magnesium: a vital mineral

The mineral magnesium is crucially involved in the formation of over 300 enzymes essential for survival in the organism. Magnesium is also irreplaceable for performance, because it is involved in every muscular effort. Since magnesium is needed to convert energy-rich substances such as glucose in the body, the mineral also makes a decisive contribution to energy production. Not to be neglected is the effect of magnesium on Bones and Teethbecause the mineral is what makes them resistant in the first place.

But magnesium is needed not only for tension but also for relaxation. It acts as a natural anti-stress preparation. The substance is also of fundamental importance for the cardiovascular system. There it has a stabilizing effect and prevents rhythm disturbances. Nerves and muscles communicate with each other by means of stimulus transmission. Magnesium ensures smooth interaction. 

Magnesium: The cosmetics industry is enthusiastic

In the cosmetic field, magnesium is used to smooth and clarify the skin's appearance. The Cosmetics industry swears by magnesium in creams to provide sensitive and dry skin types with more moisture and reduce feelings of tension. Due to the fact that magnesium has antioxidant properties, it protects the skin from free radicals, which can cause the Aging process can advance. Especially people with a demanding skin, for example with acne or Skin diseases such as rosacea, rely on the anti-inflammatory action of magnesium. Last but not least, the mineral is also important in hair care. In combination with other minerals, the substance is said to give users more hair volume and prevent hair breakage.

Magnesium deficiency: How much magnesium is enough?

When calculating the individual magnesium requirement, age and gender must be taken into account. The German Society for Nutrition has published an overview for orientation, which is summarized in the following table.

Age in years Male (mg/day) Female (mg/day)
1 to under 4  80 80
4 to under 7 120 120
7 to under 10  170 170
10 to under 13  230 250
13 to under 15  310 310
Adolescents and adults in years 
15 till under 19  400 350
19 until under 25  400 310
25 to under 51  350 300
51 to under 65  350 300
65 and more 350 300
Pregnant 310 (pregnant women under 19 years = 350mg)
Breastfeeding 390

Source: German Nutrition Society (DGE)


How can magnesium deficiency occur?

Nutrition experts assume an average of 350-400 mg per day, which an adult must take in. However, many people do not manage to take in the daily amount recommended by the German Nutrition Society. One of the reasons why the human organism does not receive enough magnesium is due to the way food is grown. A few years ago, the U.S. Congress made it clear that the population could no longer meet its daily nutrient requirements with vegetables and fruits.

One of the reasons for this is the depleted and mineral-poor soil. In addition, food today is subject to a complex processing procedure in which it is washed and precooked - this can also significantly reduce the mineral content. This is also evident from the fact that increased magnesium deficiency has been identified, particularly in industrialized countries. Special groups of people also have an increased requirement. These include pregnant women, nursing mothers, diabetics and people who do a lot of sport.


Magnesium deficiency: 3 mineral thieves

Depending on how everyday life is structured, various circumstances can lead to the body not having enough magnesium. Users should therefore pay attention to the following 3 mineral thieves


Mineral thief No. 1: Fitness

Sport promotes health and is unreservedly recommended for healthy adults. However, the magnesium level must not be disregarded in the case of increased physical stress. This is especially true for competitive athletes, where the body needs a lot of magnesium to ensure muscle function and the corresponding regeneration. Magnesium is also excreted through sweat. 

Mineral thief No. 2: Wrong nutrition concepts

A balanced diet is part of a healthy lifestyle. Diets that aim to lose a lot of weight quickly often resort to one-sided nutritional trends. By forgoing vital nutrients, a magnesium deficiency can develop. Incidentally, the same applies to the frequent consumption of fast food and highly processed foods. These products are not suitable as a nutrient-rich source of nutrition. 

Mineral thief No. 3: a negative lifestyle

What is meant by a negative lifestyle is debatable. But not about the fact that stress and alcohol get in the way of a healthy lifestyle. Alcohol intake drives the kidneys to detoxify. The excretion and drainage process also causes increased magnesium to be excreted. Even small amounts of alcohol that lead to 0.5 per mille are sufficient for this.

Stress, triggered by occupational strain, lack of sleep and negative interpersonal experiences, can also have a negative impact on nutrient intake. The stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline are increasingly released as a result of the strong internal pressure felt by those affected. Since magnesium can inhibit the body's readiness to flee through its relaxing effect, it is also secreted in stressful situations. However, magnesium is of particular importance for stressed people, as it can have a balancing effect on their state of mind.

Attention with reduced intake

Those affected can take active steps against the mineral thieves mentioned above. However, it becomes more difficult when chronic diseases hinder absorption. This can be the case if the intestines or detoxifying organs are affected. Medications, especially antibiotics, can also negatively affect the absorption of absorbed magnesium. Last but not least, there are people who are naturally unable to absorb much magnesium through the intestines.

Magnesium deficiency: symptoms

A tingling sensation in the legs, headaches and muscle cramps - these are the complaints for which sufferers take magnesium particularly frequently. However, a magnesium deficiency can also cause many other symptoms that are less well known.

Magnesium deficiency is associated with the following complaints:

  • Pain (headaches, migraines, tension, low back and back pain.
  • Muscle complaints (calf cramps, foot cramps, twitching in various muscle groups, asthma attacks, spasms in the coronary arteries, shortness of breath).
  • Exhaustion states (pronounced fatigue, insomnia, energy deficit, lack of concentration).
  • Gastrointestinal complaints: (stomach pain, nausea, loss of appetite, constipation, diarrhea).
  • Gynecological symptoms (premenstrual syndrome, pain at the beginning of the cycle, pronounced menstrual bleeding, menstrual irregularities, water retention, increased risk of preterm labor and eclampsia).
  • Psychological complaints (confusion, dizziness, pronounced anxiety, depressive states, palpitations, inner restlessness, increased irritability).
  • Other complaints (cold feet and hands, numbness, tingling, cardiac arrhythmia, increased sensitivity to sound and light).


What happens when there is a pronounced magnesium deficiency?

The long-term consequences of a magnesium deficiency can be devastating, as the mineral is involved in numerous body processes. If the magnesium deficiency is not corrected, health deficiencies can result. Depending on age, this damage can have different consequences. The following applies to all: magnesium plays an important role in calcium and potassium levels. Infants with a magnesium deficiency can suffer more from infections and tooth development that is not age-appropriate.

In infants, a significant failure to thrive has been noted with a pronounced deficiency. Schoolchildren, on the other hand, complain of inability to sleep through the night and poor concentration. Headaches and abdominal pain can also be noticeable. In adolescents, magnesium deficiency can manifest itself as shortness of breath. Girls develop delayed menstruation. Adults, on the other hand, suffer additional consequential neurological damage. In addition to tetanic spasms, transient ischemic attacks can occur after the age of 40. Women in particular have high blood pressure. They also have an increased risk of miscarriage. Experts emphasize the importance of magnesium in the development of inflammatory processes and cardiovascular diseases.

That the body, and especially the cardiovascular system, benefits from an adequate intake of magnesium has been proven by researchers from China. The authors of the study stated that an increase in dietary magnesium intake was associated with a reduced risk of stroke, heart failure, diabetes and mortality. As a result, they concluded that increasing magnesium intake can provide health benefits 1 Xuexian Fang, Kai Wang, Dan Han, Xuyan He, Jiayu Wei, Lu Zhao, Mustapha Umar Imam, Zhiguang Ping, Yusheng Li, Yuming Xu, Junxia Min and Fudi Wang, Dietary magnesium intake and the risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and all-cause mortality: a dose-response meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies, BMC Medicine201614:210, 2

The drastic consequences of a magnesium deficiency can be avoided with the help of an adequate intake. If the body absorbs more magnesium, the deficiency symptoms disappear after a relatively short period of time.

Magnesium deficiency: diagnosis

Detecting a magnesium deficiency is not so easy. This is because only a very pronounced magnesium deficiency can be detected with the help of a blood test. Even if a patient has too little magnesium, this will not be noticed in the usual blood tests. Indicative blood values only arise when the magnesium stores of the bones are almost completely depleted. For this reason, a magnesium deficiency can be better detected by the corresponding complaints.

In addition, there is a so-called ExaTest. In a painless procedure, a small amount of tissue is taken from under the patient's tongue and evaluated under a microscope. However, this test, which is mainly offered by chiropractors and naturopaths, is not as conclusive as a blood test for ionized magnesium. In this test, physicians determine the amount of free magnesium in relation to the blood. The decisive factor is that the magnesium is not associated with other minerals or proteins. However, this blood determination is not a common diagnostic tool, even though it can be used to precisely determine a possible magnesium deficiency.

Magnesium deficiency: therapy

In the event of a magnesium deficiency, action should be taken quickly to ensure an adequate supply. This is the only way to prevent late complications. As a first measure, those affected should ensure that they take in enough magnesium in their diet. Seeds, beans, nuts, peas, green leafy vegetables and products made from whole grains are particularly suitable for this purpose. Magnesium reserves can also be replenished with meat, fish and dairy products. The intake of the vital mineral can be supported with a magnesium preparation in the form of dietary supplements.

Buy magnesium

When buying magnesium, there are a number of things to consider in order to obtain a high-quality preparation. myvial provides tips on all aspects of buying magnesium. Users should focus on the right magnesium compound.

Since 100 % pure magnesium is found to be unstable and highly reactive, it is not suitable for consumption. A wide variety of magnesium compounds exist, each with a slightly different therapeutic effect and absorption rate.

Among the most important are:

  • Magnesium oxide
  • Magnesium phosphate
  • Magnesium hydroxide
  • Magnesium glycinate
  • Magnesium orotate
  • Magnesium aspartate
  • Magnesium chloride
  • Magnesium phosphate
  • Magnesium gluconate
  • Magnesium citrate
  • Magnesium malate

Buyers should prefer products that rely on magnesium citrate.

The vast majority of magnesium preparations contain only one magnesium compound. However, there are also products that rely on several compounds. With the multi-preparations, a magnesium deficiency can be quickly remedied. With maximum bioavailability and good tolerability, the preparation is absorbed in different parts of the intestine, depending on which compound is present. It is important that a balanced magnesium formula is used, and not too many magnesium compounds should be combined. The monopreparations are particularly suitable for users who want to stimulate their digestion. A monopreparation is also recommended for people with fibromyalgia.

Interactions and side effects

Magnesium is considered to be well tolerated and to have few side effects. Only when users consume excessive doses (from 360 mg daily) can complaints such as diarrhea, stomach cramps and muscle weakness become noticeable. Since magnesium can affect blood clotting, people on medication should pay attention to this. In order to achieve a good absorption of magnesium, a number of things should be taken into account in the diet. Spinach, rhubarb, beet and chard, for example, can reduce magnesium absorption. The same applies to legumes as well as meat and milk. This is because the products either have a lot of oxalic acid, phytic acid or phosphate.

Therefore, users should allow at least a two-hour interval between taking magnesium and eating the food. Simultaneous use of magnesium and certain antibiotics (tetracyclines) and tuberculosis drugs (isoniazid) is not recommended. Some laxatives already have added magnesium, which should be taken into account in the dosage. 

Magnesium: dosage forms

Magnesium is available in the following dosage forms:

  • Magnesium tablets

Advantages: reasonably priced. Disadvantages: Often colorants and coatings and excipients are processed, difficult to swallow.

  • Magnesium capsules 

Advantages: Rapid absorption in the stomach, no tableting aids included because the pressing process is eliminated, additives are generally avoided, easy to swallow.

  • Magnesium powder 

Pros: acceptable taste, versatile use, no swallowing required. Disadvantages: Additives such as sweeteners or flavors may be added, dosage may not be accurate.

  • Magnesium sticks and sachets 

Advantages: Are taken directly in the mouth, no swallowing required, optimal for travel. Disadvantages: Often contain additives such as artificial sweeteners, relatively high price.

  • Magnesium ampoules 

Advantages: Magnesium can be absorbed without detours, no swallowing required. Disadvantages: Products usually contain flavors, stabilizers and sweeteners, poor value for money.

  • Magnesium effervescent tablets 

Advantage: quickly available, cheap. Disadvantages: Contain artificial additives such as flavors and sweeteners, taste takes some getting used to.

How can users recognize a good preparation?

A good magnesium product is characterized by high bioavailability. Manufacturers are obliged to state the amount of elemental magnesium (in milligrams) on the preparation. In addition to good tolerability, users should also pay attention to a balanced price-performance ratio. A good magnesium preparation relies on high-quality magnesium, preferably magnesium citrate, and should avoid fillers, separating agents and other additives to guarantee high purity. Buyers are well advised to obtain the product from the dealer they trust in order to get a high-quality preparation at a good price.