Most people don’t eat a proper diet, especially if they lead busy lives. They grab quick meals that are usually lacking in fresh fruits and vegetables, which means they are often deficient in many of the vitamins and minerals that keep them healthy. There are subtle signs that your body may be deficient in certain vitamins or minerals. Usually a simple blood test can help check your levels to determine if you need to use supplements.
Having low levels of magnesium is common in our modern society, but magnesium deficiency can be difficult to detect by symptoms alone. Many symptoms are not unique to magnesium deficiency, which makes it harder to diagnose. However, it is important to know the symptoms, because low levels of magnesium are linked to many illnesses.
The symptoms of magnesium deficiency usually fall into two categories: classic symptoms that directly indicate low levels of magnesium, and latent symptoms that are shared with other conditions.
The classic signs of low magnesium levels include neurological, muscular, metabolic and cardiovascular problems. Anyone have a deficit in this mineral, including children whose main symptom is a failure to thrive or stunted growth. Some of the most common signs of magnesium deficiency are:
- Muscle cramps
- Irregular or a rapid heartbeat
These symptoms can be caused by other conditions, including other vitamin or mineral deficiencies, and they make low magnesium levels harder to detect. Some of these conditions include:
- Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
- Problems sleeping
- Migraine headaches
- High blood pressure
- Cardiac arrhythmias
- Type 2 diabetes
Diagnosing Low Magnesium Levels
If you have some of the symptoms of low magnesium, such as leg muscle cramps or heart palpitations, you should discuss your concerns with your doctor. He or she will order a blood test to see if you’re deficient in this electrolyte. If it is determined you have low magnesium levels, the doctor may recommend supplementation and eating foods with high levels of magnesium in them.
Increasing Magnesium Levels
Your doctor may recommend that you take magnesium tablets to help increase your levels of this mineral. If you cannot tolerate the tablets, then you doctor may prescribe a topical magnesium supplement that is absorbed through the skin and enters the bloodstream. Along with supplementation, you should also increase your intake of foods that contain high levels of magnesium, which includes:
- Dark green leafy vegetables like spinach, Swiss chard or kale
- Nuts or seeds like pumpkin seeds, pine nuts, pecans or flaxseeds
- Fish like salmon, tuna and halibut
- Dark chocolate
Although it is rare, having too much magnesium in your system can also have severe side effects, so you should talk to your doctor about the best way to add magnesium to your diet if your levels are too low. However, most of these foods have other benefits for your body, and you should add them to your diet.