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Magnesium Deficiency: Signs, Causes, & How to Increase Intake

Spotting magnesium deficiency is important to a healthy lifestyle. Your body needs vitamins and minerals in different amounts to function at its best. Magnesium deficiency can cause sleep problems, nerve issues, and mood swings. That's why it’s important to make sure you’re getting enough of this vital mineral. We’ve put together the ultimate guide to magnesium deficiency. Find out the signs, how to test your levels and what remedies are available.

Table of Contents:

What is Magnesium Deficiency?

Magnesium deficiency means that the levels of magnesium in your body are lower than they should be. This is known as hypomagnesemia which can cause certain health problems should it occur. Magnesium is responsible for over 300 reactions in the body, such as making proteins. If someone is suffering from magnesium deficiency, it means these processes aren’t happening as well as they should. This person may need to consider taking magnesium supplements to aid optimal mineral levels.

Magnesium keeps your natural energy levels up, and supports muscle and nerve function. It plays a role in the production of serotonin, which is known as the feel-good hormone. Without sufficient levels of the mineral, you won't see the benefits of magnesium, and could suffer from detrimental side effects.

There are signs and symptoms to look out for, so you can identify whether you may need to up your mineral intake.

3 Symptoms of Magnesium Deficiency

Spotting the signs of magnesium deficiency is important to make sure your levels stay at their optimal amount. The signs can be easy to mistake for other health conditions. Some common signs include:

  1. Poor sleep - Magnesium plays an important role in sleep. The body needs magnesium to maintain a state of rest. Magnesium deficiency can lead to restless muscles that keep you awake at night. Magnesium helps the brain receptors to switch off before you go to sleep. Without enough, you might not get off to sleep easily. Some people aid their sleep with sleep supplements to support a full night’s rest.
  2. Fatigue - People suffering with magnesium deficiency may feel fatigued and tired. As the mineral is a natural relaxant which works alongside calcium to help regulate muscle movement, not getting enough can result in a build-up of lactic acid. This leaves the body open to muscle tiredness and soreness. Therefore, although fatigue and tiredness are signs of multiple different health issues, it could be a sign you are developing magnesium deficiency.
  3. Heart palpitations - These symptoms are mild in most cases, but magnesium deficiency can cause pauses between heartbeats and the feeling of an irregular heartbeat. Magnesium assists with your nerve system and nerve endings, so not getting enough could lead to nerve damage. Therefore, a sense of tingling in the hands, feet, and face could also be a sign of magnesium deficiency.



You should seek medical advice from your GP or other health professional if you think you have these signs of magnesium deficiency. A medical professional may arrange a blood test to identify whether you have low mineral levels or magnesium deficiency. Always consult medical advice before taking supplements.

What Causes Magnesium Deficiency?

We all need enough nutrients to support a healthy lifestyle, so it’s important to know the causes of vitamin and mineral deficiencies and who may be more at risk. The most common cause of magnesium deficiency is not getting enough of the mineral in your diet. Consuming a lot of processed fats, refined sugars, salt, synthetic sweeteners or caffeine, like energy drinks, reduces your body’s ability to absorb magnesium. You can also develop low magnesium levels if the calcium in your blood is too high. Having high levels of calcium can affect how much magnesium your body can absorb.

Sources of Magnesium

The mineral is available in food and drink sources which can help you raise your mineral levels. You can help to improve your intake by eating mineral-rich foods, such as:

  • spinach
  • nuts (e.g. peanuts, almonds and cashews)
  • beans (e.g. black, kidney and edamame beans)
  • avocados
  • whole grain bread
  • brown rice
  • potatoes
  • soy milk

Including these magnesium sources in your diet can help you support your body’s need for this essential mineral and avoid the health concerns which come alongside magnesium deficiency.

Are You at Risk of Magnesium Deficiency?

Some people are more at risk of developing magnesium deficiency due to life and bodily changes, lifestyle, or health circumstances. Those higher at risk of magnesium deficiency include:

  • Those pregnant or breastfeeding - As you are providing for two, your vital nutrients are being used to support your little one to grow and develop. Magnesium supplements are safe to take during pregnancy and breastfeeding, and many might consider taking pregnancy supplements to support both parents and baby's health.
  • Those with a gastrointestinal disorder such as Crohn's disease or coeliac disease - This can make absorbing vital nutrients more difficult, so those with gastrointestinal disorders may be deficient in vital nutrients.
  • Those with type 2 diabetes - Insulin resistance may cause excess minerals to be lost through urine, meaning those with diabetes or insulin sensitivity are more at risk of developing magnesium deficiency.
  • Those with hyperparathyroidism - This is when the parathyroid glands produce too much parathyroid hormone, causing the levels of calcium in your blood to rise. Magnesium helps the body absorb calcium, but if you have too high levels of calcium it can make mineral absorption more difficult, potentially leading to a magnesium deficiency.
  • Elderly people - Elderly people may consume fewer mineral-rich foods than younger people, and due to age the mineral may not be absorbed so well and instead be excreted by the kidneys.
  • Someone who takes certain medication, such as antibiotics, proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) or diuretics - Medicines, and nutrients like magnesium, use the same pathways for their intestinal absorption. So taking certain medications may affect the absorption of minerals within the body and could lead to magnesium deficiency.

The people on this list could be more at risk of developing magnesium deficiency. Always seek medical advice from your GP if you think you may be at risk of magnesium deficiency and before taking supplements.

During the menopause, magnesium can be more important because this transitional period may cause a lack of sleep. Magnesium is often included in menopause supplements because it aids sleep and relaxes muscles, to support you through this time.

5 Ways To Increase Magnesium Intake with BetterYou

Treatments for magnesium deficiency include eating a more magnesium-rich diet, and taking magnesium supplements.

Improving your mineral intake and reducing your risk of magnesium deficiency is easier than ever with our range of transdermal magnesium supplements:

  1. Magnesium sprays - The mineral oil used in our Magnesium Sprays is a concentration of magnesium chloride. Magnesium oil is a quick and effective way to help replenish your nutrient levels. Designed to be taken on the move, they are an easy pill-free solution to supplementation.
  2. Magnesium lotions - BetterYou magnesium lotions are easy to use and can aid optimal levels of vital minerals. Use them before or after exercise to support bone and muscle health, to aid sleep and quieten the mind, and to moisturise and hydrate for healthy looking skin.
  3. Magnesium flakes - Magnesium Bath Flakes are a highly concentrated form of magnesium chloride, a natural form of the mineral. They are an effective way to enjoy the benefits of magnesium chloride in a bath, fully exposing and replenishing the body with this essential mineral. When placed in warm water, the flakes dissolve and absorb into the skin.
  4. Magnesium gel - BetterYou Magnesium Gel uses a targeted application technique to supplementation which provides effective mineral absorption ideal for use during exercise to aid muscle function and recovery.
  5. Magnesium body butter - Our BetterYou Magnesium Body Butter is a deeply rich, intensively moisturising body butter, to help you feel rested and relaxed while promoting muscle function.
  6. Magnesium drinksMagnesium Water offers a fast and convenient way to increase your magnesium intake on the go, without taking a tablet. Ensure you’re obtaining essential electrolytes with magnesium waters for optimal hydration, focus, and energy.

According to the NHS, the amount of magnesium you need is:

  • 300mg per day for men (aged 19–64)
  • 270mg per day for women (aged 19–64 years)

Magnesium is a natural muscle relaxant, and so taking large doses orally can have a laxative effect. That's why you should always follow nutrient reference value guidelines when supplementing vitamins and minerals. BetterYou’s transdermal application products don’t have the same effect because they are applied topically instead of passing through the digestive system.

Pill-free supplements from BetterYou

Our range of vitamin oral sprays and topical magnesium supplements provide a fast, effective alternative to traditional tables and capsules. Scientifically formulated to deliver maximum nutrient absorption, with minimum fuss, to help you feel and live better.

Take control of your health today with our magnesium supplements to aid natural sleep, vitamin D supplements to boost your immunity and our at-home health checks to get a clear picture of your nutrient levels.



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