By: Dr Marc Sircus

Few people are aware of the enormous role magnesium plays in our bodies. After oxygen, water, and basic food, magnesium may be the most important element needed by our bodies. It is more important than calcium, potassium or sodium and regulates all three of them.

Symptoms of Magnesium Deficiency

A full outline of magnesium deficiency was beautifully presented in a recent article by Dr. Sidney Baker. “Magnesium deficiency can affect virtually every organ system of the body. With regard to skeletal muscle, one may experience twitches, cramps, muscle tension, muscle soreness, including: back aches, neck pain, tension headaches and jaw joint (or TMJ) dysfunction. Also, one may experience chest tightness or a peculiar sensation that he can’t take a deep breath. Sometimes a person may sigh a lot.”

“Symptoms involving impaired contraction of smooth muscles include: constipation, urinary spasms; menstrual cramps; difficulty swallowing or a lump in the throat-especially provoked by eating sugar; photophobia, especially difficulty adjusting to oncoming bright headlights in the absence of eye disease; and loud noise sensitivity from stapedius muscle tension in the ear.”

“Continuing with the symptoms of magnesium deficiency, the central nervous system is markedly affected. Symptoms include insomnia, anxiety, hyperactivity and restlessness with constant movement, panic attacks, agoraphobia, and premenstrual irritability. Magnesium deficiency symptoms involving the peripheral nervous system include numbness, tingling, and other abnormal sensations, such as zips, zaps and vibratory sensations.”

“Symptoms or signs of the cardiovascular system include: palpitations, heart arrhythmias, and angina due to spasms of the coronary arteries, high blood pressure and mitral valve prolapse. Be aware that not all of the symptoms need to be present to presume magnesium deficiency; but, many of them often occur together. For example, people with mitral valve prolapse frequently have palpitations, anxiety, panic attacks and premenstrual symptoms. People with magnesium deficiency often seem to be “uptight.” Other general symptoms include a salt craving, both carbohydrate craving and carbohydrate intolerance, especially of chocolate, and breast tenderness.”

Magnesium is needed by every cell in the body including those of the brain, and is one of the most important minerals when considering supplementation because of its vital role in hundreds of enzyme systems and functions related to reactions in cell metabolism, as well as being essential for the synthesis of proteins, and for the utilization of fats and carbohydrates. Magnesium is needed not only for the production of specific detoxification enzymes but is also important for energy production related to cell detoxification. A magnesium deficiency can affect virtually every system of the body.

Persons only slightly deficient in magnesium become irritable, highly-strung, and sensitive to noise, hyper-excitable, apprehensive and belligerent. If the deficiency is more severe or prolonged, they may develop twitching, tremors, irregular pulse, insomnia, muscle weakness, jerkiness and leg and foot cramps.

If magnesium is severely deficient, the brain is particularly affected. Clouded thinking, confusion, disorientation, marked depression and even the terrifying hallucinations of delirium tremens are largely brought on by a lack of this nutrient and remedied when magnesium is given. Because large amounts of calcium are lost in the urine when magnesium is under supplied, the lack of this nutrient indirectly becomes responsible for much rampant tooth decay, poor bone development, osteoporosis and slow healing of broken bones and fractures. With vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), magnesium helps to reduce and dissolve calcium phosphate kidney stones.

Possible manifestations of magnesium deficiency include:
• Low energy
• Fatigue
• Weakness
• Confusion
• Nervousness
• Anxiousness
• Irritability
• Mouth Ulcers
• Seizures (and tantrums)
• Poor Digestion
• PMS and Hormonal Imbalances
• Muscle tension, spasm and cramps
• Calcification of organs
• Weakening of the bones
• Abnormal heart rhythm
• Magnesium levels drop at night, leading to poor REM sleep cycles and unrefreshed sleep.

Suggestive early warning signs of magnesium insufficiency:
• Physical and mental fatigue
• Persistent under-eye twitch
• Blurred Vision
• Tension in the upper back, shoulders and neck
• Headaches
• Pre-menstrual fluid retention and/or breast tenderness

Signs of severe magnesium deficiency include:
• Extreme thirst
• Extreme hunger
• Frequent urination
• Sores or bruises that heal slowly
• Dry, itchy skin
• Unexplained weight loss
• Blurry vision that changes from day to day
• Unusual tiredness or drowsiness
• Tingling or numbness in the hands or feet
• Frequent or recurring skin, gum, bladder or vaginal yeast infections

Vitamin B6-Magnesium Connection
Supplementation of vitamin B6 and magnesium has shown some promise in improvement of behavioral disorders in children with autism. A 2006 study in “Magnesium Research” found that these supplements, when given together, improved social interaction and communication in autistic children. The study also found that when supplementation was stopped, the behavioral problems returned. Autism is a neurological disorder that affects communication and social interaction skills.

When supplementing with magnesium, stay away from magnesium oxide as it is the least bioavailable (4%) form of magnesium. The best forms are: Magnesium Chloride, Magnesium Orotate, Magnesium Citrate, and/or Magnesium L-Threonate.