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Magnesium and Calcium Part 1: Dangers of Having a Magnesium Deficiency

author avatar Dr. Eric Berg 03/08/2024

Magnesium deficiency symptoms are often overlooked, yet they can significantly impact one's health and well-being. As an essential mineral, magnesium is crucial in numerous bodily functions ranging from energy production to muscle function regulation.

Discover the importance of maintaining healthy magnesium levels and how to spot signs of deficiency.

Moreover, we'll examine the causes behind magnesium deficiency, including inadequate consumption of certain foods or gastrointestinal issues that may hinder proper absorption.

Functions of Magnesium

Magnesium is a mineral that's more important than most people realize. It's involved in over 300 enzyme reactions, including protein synthesis for hair, nails, and muscle growth; energy production; bone development; muscle function; nerve health; and glucose metabolism.

The following are six essential functions of magnesium:

1. Protein Synthesis: Magnesium helps create proteins that comprise our body's structural components, including skin, hair, and nails.

2. Energy Production: Magnesium helps convert food into usable energy. Lack of adequate magnesium can quickly lead to fatigue and exhaustion.

3. Bone Development and Maintenance: Magnesium aids calcium absorption and regulates hormones responsible for maintaining proper bone density.

4. Muscle Function Regulation: Magnesium plays a crucial role in muscle contractions and relaxations, which explains why magnesium deficiency causes muscle cramps and tension.

5. Supports Nerve Health: Magnesium maintains the electrolyte balance within cells, crucial for transmitting electrical signals throughout the nervous system.

6. Carbohydrate Metabolism: Magnesium improves insulin sensitivity, helping cells respond better to insulin signals that control blood sugar levels. Adequate magnesium intake supports healthy glycemic control by assisting with glucose metabolism processes within the body.

Magnesium deficiency printed on paper

Symptoms of Magnesium Deficiency

Have you had regular muscle cramps, developed high blood pressure, or been unable to sleep? You might be deficient in magnesium. This essential mineral regulates muscle and nerve function, blood pressure, and glucose metabolism.

Without enough of it, you could experience a range of symptoms, including:

Cramps, Spasms, and Twitching

Magnesium helps your muscles contract and relax properly, and deficiency can lead to cramps, spasms, and twitching.

High Blood Pressure and Arterial Stiffness

Low magnesium intake can lead to vascular constriction and increased hypertension, potentially increasing the likelihood of cardiac problems. Often times, this can even lead to having high blood pressure.

Insulin Resistance and Diabetes

Magnesium is involved in glucose metabolism and insulin sensitivity. Without sufficient magnesium, one could be at risk of developing insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.

Kidney Dysfunction

Your kidneys need magnesium to function correctly. A deficiency can lead to kidney disease or even failure.

Arrhythmias and Mitral Valve Prolapse

Magnesium helps regulate your heartbeat. Without enough of it, you could develop arrhythmias or mitral valve prolapse.

Causes of Magnesium Deficiency

Various factors contribute to a deficiency in this essential mineral.

Here are common causes of low magnesium levels and how they impact your overall well-being.

Inadequate consumption of magnesium-rich greens

One major cause of magnesium deficiency is insufficient magnesium-rich foods, mainly green leafy vegetables like spinach, kale, and Swiss chard.

These greens contain high levels of magnesium that help maintain proper balance within the body. Incorporating more servings into your daily diet can significantly improve your magnesium status.

Excessive calcium intake

An imbalance between calcium and magnesium from excessive calcium intake or supplementation without sufficient corresponding magnesium supplements can lead to symptoms of magnesium deficiency.

This can cause spasms, hypertension, renal impairment, and heart irregularities. It's crucial to ensure you're maintaining a healthy ratio between these two minerals for optimal health benefits.

Insulin resistance

Magnesium plays a vital role in regulating insulin levels; however, individuals with insulin resistance might experience poor absorption rates due to their condition. As a result, it becomes increasingly difficult for them to maintain adequate magnesium levels.

Addressing underlying insulin resistance through lifestyle changes or medical intervention may help improve the low magnesium status caused by this issue.

A high-carb diet

Consuming refined carbs, sugars, and processed foods can also contribute to magnesium deficiency.

These foods often lack essential nutrients, including magnesium, due to the refining process that strips away their natural mineral content. Choosing whole, unprocessed foods with higher magnesium content can help improve your overall intake.

Gastrointestinal issues

Specific gastrointestinal issues like ulcers, scar tissue, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), or gastric bypass surgery may reduce the body's ability to absorb magnesium effectively.

This is because these conditions can interfere with the normal digestive processes required for nutrient absorption.

In such cases, it might be necessary to consult a healthcare professional about appropriate dietary changes or magnesium supplementation options tailored specifically for individuals experiencing these challenges.


Magnesium is vital for energy production, muscle function, and nerve health.

Magnesium deficiency can increase the risk of high blood pressure, diabetes, and kidney dysfunction, and it's crucial to obtain enough of this essential nutrient by eating plenty of magnesium-rich greens and avoiding refined foods that can deplete your body's supply.

Check out these 9 proven benefits of magnesium and see why this mineral is essential for your health and well-being.

Learn More

To learn more about magnesium, calcium, and the important roles these nutrients play in your wellbeing, check out the next parts of this series.

Click here for Magnesium and Calcium Part 2

Click here for Magnesium and Calcium Part 3

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