A lack of the common mineral magnesium in the soil produces foods that contain lower amounts of the substance that is necessary for good health. Magnesium deficiency may cause many symptoms that could progress to become serious health problems over time if not treated by increasing the amount of magnesium in the diet.

Magnesium is a naturally occurring mineral that is vital for human health. This underrated substance regulates so many processes in the human body that scientists are still discovering its many functions.

Whether it is allowing relaxation, keeping muscles working correctly or performing a litany of other critical roles, it acts as an essential regulator throughout the body on the cellular level. Alarmingly, some experts believe that as many as 75 percent of people experience some degree of deficiency.

Usually caused by not eating enough magnesium-rich foods, magnesium deficiency can bring on a variety of symptoms, and if left untreated, the condition may result in the onset of chronic disease. Fortunately, correcting this imbalance in the body is usually as simple as eating foods that provide more of it naturally.

Early Symptoms of Magnesium Deficiency

Several indicators warn of low magnesium levels. These early manifestations usually go away when the body’s level of it reaches proper amounts. Other dangerous medical conditions can also produce many of these symptoms, so it is essential to consult with a doctor to determine whether a deficiency could be a factor or if there is another underlying cause.

  • High blood pressure – Studies have shown that magnesium levels can significantly affect blood pressure. Increasing it can sometimes lower high blood pressure.
  • Anxiety – Magnesium regulates how synapses in the brain control anxiety levels. Too little of it can cause extreme nervousness.
  • Fatigue – The process of creating fuel that the body’s cells burn for energy requires magnesium. The absence of this chemical reaction may result in tiredness and lethargy.
  • Depression – Researchers have linked low levels to cases of depression. The brain relies on chemical reactions requiring it to function properly.
  • Insomnia – Magnesium levels affect the body’s ability to relax fully. Without proper relaxation of the muscles, many people have difficulty getting a good night’s rest.
  • Muscle cramps – Cramping muscles are one of the most easily recognizable symptoms of magnesium deficiency. It controls how muscles relax and contract in normal movement, and insufficient amounts of the mineral may cause the tissue to lock painfully in the contracted state.
  • Migraine headaches – Studies have proven that increasing its levels can successfully treat migraine headaches. Many researchers believe that too low levels of the mineral in the body may trigger some migraines.

The above list represents only a few of the indicators of low magnesium levels. The list of symptoms is growing as scientists make new discoveries of more processes controlled by this substance. Long-term deficiencies in the mineral can lead to serious health problems.

Medical Conditions Linked to Magnesium Deficiency

When low levels of magnesium persist in the body for extended periods, severe health problems may occur.  Researchers have not fully established evidence for these links, but many suspect that chronic deficiency plays a part in the onset of many serious diseases.

  • Heart disease – Lack of magnesium can cause artery walls to stiffen. This condition can eventually lead to heart disease.
  • Asthma – Magnesium’s muscle-relaxing ability works on the smooth muscles of the bronchial system to help open restricted air passageways. Over time, low levels of it can cause these soft tissues to harden and cause respiratory problems.
  • Hypoglycemia – Scientists have demonstrated a possible link between impaired glucose metabolism and insufficient levels of the mineral.
  • Osteoporosis – Low magnesium levels can rob bones of precious calcium. Studies show consistently lower bone density in patients with an inadequate amount of the mineral.
  • Diabetes – Magnesium regulates the body’s metabolism in many different ways. Insulin sensitivity resulting from too little of it may lead to type 2 diabetes in certain individuals.

6 Foods With Enough Magnesium To Raise Levels in the Body

Doctors often recommend eating foods with high levels of the mineral as a first step in correcting a deficiency problem.

Many times dietary adjustments alone can fix the problem without any additional treatment. Accordingly, adding servings of the following foods to your regular diet can help to increase its levels in the body. Also, note that RDI represents the Recommended Dietary Intake measure.

Magnesium RDI for women is about 320 mg, and for men, it is approximately 400 mg.

1. Bananas

In addition to being a significant source of potassium, this favorite fruit also contains substantial amounts of magnesium. A serving of banana contains 34 mg of the element. Furthermore, that amount is enough to meet about 10 percent of the average RDI. However, ripe bananas contain high levels of sugar and carbohydrates. They may not be suitable for individuals who are overweight or have metabolic issues such as any diabetic conditions.

2. Avocados

An excellent source of fiber, monounsaturated fat, and potassium, one medium avocado provides 15 percent of magnesium’s RDI. Additionally, avocados are an extremely nutritious, tasty and versatile fruit. Also, they go well with just about anything and can be easily added to salads, sandwiches, hamburgers and many other foods for an extra dose of the mineral.

3. Nuts

Nuts can be a good source of protein, fiber, healthy fats, potassium, and magnesium. Magnesium-rich nuts include Brazil nuts, almonds, and cashews. Accordingly, a serving size of each of these snacks contain the following amounts of the element:

  • Brazil Nuts – 167 mg, or 42 percent of average RDI.
  • Almonds – 129 mg, or 32 percent of average RDI.
  • Cashews – 117 mg, or 29 percent of average RDI.

4. Leafy Greens

In addition to it, green vegetables also contain vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, and iron. Turnip greens, spinach, kale, mustard greens and collard greens all provide sufficient levels of it to affect the body’s overall levels:

  • Turnip Greens – 31.7 mg, or 10 percent of average RDI.
  • Kale – 22.8 mg, or 6 percent of average RDI.
  • Mustard Greens – 18 mg, or 4 percent of average RDI.
  • Collard Greens – 10 mg, or 2 percent of average RDI.

5. Legumes

Legumes—peas, lentils, and beans—are high in magnesium and other vital minerals such as iron and potassium. Also, concentrated forms of legumes provide the added benefit of containing more nutrients per serving. Listed below are the mineral content of some legume-based foods:

  • Soybean Curd Cheese – 302 mg, or 75 percent of average RDI.
  • Cowpea Catjang – 194 mg, or 48 percent of average RDI.
  • Soy Protein Concentrate – 190 mg, or  47 percent of average RDI.

6. Seeds

Seeds are high in fiber, contain healthy fats, iron as well as also provide magnesium. Roasting the seeds does not lower the mineral content and creates a delicious and nutritious snack.

  • Pumpkin Seeds – 42 mg, or 10 percent of average RDI.
  • Sesame Seeds – 126 mg, or 32 percent of average RDI.
  • Sunflower Seeds – 44 mg, or 11 percent of average RDI.

Magnesium Deficiency Is so Widespread

Nutritional scientists and medical professionals have identified several reasons for the widespread proliferation of its deficiency.

  • Magnesium levels are depleted in the soil – Industrial farming techniques have depleted most land used in agriculture at proper levels of it as well as other minerals.
  • Average diet does not contain adequate levels – Diets consisting of processed foods, sugar, alcohol and minimal amounts of fresh vegetables tend to worsen the problem.
  • Body masks the condition of deficiency – The human body removes it from bone tissue when it reaches low levels at the cellular level. This tendency makes it difficult to medically detect a deficiency because its levels in the blood can appear normal despite low levels overall.

A lack of it in the body is not always an easy problem for doctors to diagnose.

The symptoms that the condition manifests often mimic other diseases and the link to low levels of it is not always apparent. Since scientists are now discovering how general the state is, doctors are becoming more apt to check its levels in patients who report symptoms commonly associated with the condition.

Currently, however, an accurate test that determines magnesium levels does not exist. Additionally, doctors do not consider blood tests as reliable indicators since it is the amount in the bones and cells, not the blood, that is crucial to good health. Also compounding the issue is the human body’s tendency to rob it from bones when levels reach a critical low point.

The solution is usually to try increasing the amount of magnesium in the diet and seeing if it helps relieve the patient’s symptoms. Moreover, most early deficiency problems correct themselves soon after the body starts receiving an adequate supply of the mineral.


Often doctors will refer patients who may have low magnesium levels to one of the many supplements available. Since magnesium must be bound to another substance for the body to process it with the intended results. Moreover, the various forms of supplements all have different properties.

Listed below for reference are the types primarily used to increase its levels in the body:

1. Magnesium glycinate

2. Magnesium chloride

3. Magnesium threonate

4. Magnesium citrate

Finally, a proper balance of minerals is crucial for optimal health. Magnesium regulates functions in nearly every organ and system in the human body. Since most people do not have enough of this vital mineral, it is safe to say that increasing its intake is a straightforward and natural way to improve overall health.

Featured image: CC0 by Brett_Hondow via PIxabay