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What Is Magnesium and Magnesium Deficiency?

  • 2 min read

Recently, you may have been starting to hear about Magnesium and its potential benefits for you and your body. You may have also found yourself asking, “What exactly is Magnesium?” Let us answer that question for you!

Magnesium is the 4th most abundant mineral found in the body1that helps to assist with essential bodily function and formation, including1:

  • Creating and synthesising DNA and RNA, which forms the basis of the cells in our body which is responsible for all bodily function
  • Producing protein and energy for the body to use as fuel for every day function
  • Assisting with bone development for better bone health
  • Coordinating nerve signalling to our brain

Approximately half of the body’s Magnesium is found in the body’s soft tissue (muscles, organs etc), and the other half in the bones2.  Thus, Magnesium is vital for the body to help us function day to day. The main source of Magnesium for your body comes from your diet. Unfortunately, the evolution of the human diet through time has seen a drop in dietary Magnesium, which can manifest into Magnesium deficiency. 

What is Magnesium deficiency?

As you may have guessed, Magnesium deficiency is a lack of Magnesium in the body. Magnesium is the most under-diagnosed electrolyte deficiency in the body2, as Magnesium is currently tested for in the blood (known as Serum Magnesium), which currently accounts for less than 1% of Magnesium in the body. In severely deficient states, Magnesium is excreted from the bone into the blood, thus Serum Magnesium may even read as normal3. Magnesium deficiency occurs in 4 main ways2:

  1. Reduced intake as a result of poor nutrition
  2. Reduced absorption as a result of chronic diarrhoea
  3. Redistribution as a result of chronic pancreatitis
  4. Increased excretion as a result of medications, excessive alcohol consumption, Type 2 diabetes, hypercalcaemia, hyperthyroidism and increased stress

Most commonly, Magnesium deficiency occurs as a result of reduced intake and increased excretion. 

What are the risks of Magnesium Deficiency?Currently, links have been established between Magnesium deficiency and Neuromuscular, cardiac, metabolic and neural disorders1. Deficiency reduces the body’s number of antibodies to fight infection and the body’s immune response4. As a result of this dampened immune response, deficiency can be attributed to chronic systemic inflammatory diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Insulin resistant Type 2 Diabetes, hypertension, Cardiovascular disease, Migraine, ADHD and Osteoporosis.

 Signs and Symptoms of Magnesium Deficiency may include5

  • Tiredness
  • Headache / Migraine
  • Low stress tolerance 
  • Poor Sleep
  • Muscle spasm or cramps
  • Chronic Pain

 

 

 

(1)Gröber, U., Schmidt, J., & Kisters, K. (2015). Magnesium in Prevention and Therapy. Nutrients, 7(9), 8199–8226.https://doi.org/10.3390/nu7095388 

(2)Elin, R. (1988). Magnesium metabolism in health and disease. Disease-a-Month, 34(4), 166–218.https://doi.org/10.1016/0011-5029(88)90013-2 

(3)  Al-Ghamdi, S., Cameron, E., Sutton, R., & al-Ghamdi, S. (1994). Magnesium deficiency: pathophysiologic and clinical overview. American Journal of Kidney Diseases : the Official Journal of the National Kidney Foundation, 24(5), 737–752.https://doi.org/10.1016/S0272-6386(12)80667-6 

(4)Mccoy, J., Kenney, M., & Mccoy, J. (1975). Depressed immune response in the magnesium-deficient rat. The Journal of Nutrition, 105(6), 791–797. https://doi.org/10.1093/jn/105.6.791 

(5)Gröber, U. (2009). Micronutrients: Metabolic Tuning - Prevention - Therapy.Drug Metabolism and Drug Interactions,24(2), 331–331. https://doi.org/10.1515/DMDI.2009.24.2-4.331  

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