Causes of Magnesium Deficiency (and How To Avoid Them)

Magnesium is a crucial mineral for the body that helps create enzyme reactions. It can produce essential muscle and nerve functions, regulate blood pressure, and support the immune system. However, many Americans have a suboptimal dietary consumption of magnesium. In fact, some statistics show that around 75 percent of Americans are consuming less than the recommended daily allowance of magnesium. Furthermore, about half of Americans have no idea that magnesium deficiency is even a problem for them. In this blog, we will breakdown the causes of magnesium deficiency, so you can identify if this occurrence is something you need to monitor in your own life. 

Why is Magnesium So Important? 

Magnesium works in every cell of your body. It helps convert food into energy by creating new proteins. When adults do not receive the daily recommended dose of magnesium, it can cause hypomagnesemia, which is an electrolyte disturbance caused when there is a low level of serum magnesium in the blood. 

A typical adult needs about 400 mg of magnesium every day. Otherwise, you may experience symptoms like fatigue or weakness and stiffness in your muscles. If you believe you’re suffering from a magnesium deficiency, talk to your doctor. Learning the underlying causes of magnesium deficiency and how it can apply to you can help you treat it more effectively. 

Causes of Magnesium Deficiency

Lack of absorption 

One reason you may experience a magnesium deficiency is that your body does not have enough magnesium to absorb. You may not be eating the correct foods. Foods that are magnesium-rich include pumpkin seed, spinach, cashews, almonds, peanuts, avocados, tofu, and whole grains. 

Another way that you can resolve a magnesium deficiency is by taking a multivitamin. If you go this route, you sure find one that has 100 percent of your daily recommended allowance in it. This way, you won’t have to worry about supplements. 


Malnutrition often goes hand in hand with hypomagnesemia. When people do not get their daily dose of magnesium, they are malnourished and vice versa. This is especially common among people with eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia. Because they vomit up food that contains magnesium, their body isn’t able to absorb any to use. If you’re struggling with an eating disorder or any other condition that contributes to malnutrition, talk to a medical professional, and get help. 

Causes of Magnesium Deficiency and How To Avoid Them bottles of alcohol on shelf alcoholism


Since the 1950s, clinical studies have been performed that have shown that alcoholics have a greater prevalence of magnesium deficiency. The research has shown that this deficiency was greater aggravated by hepatic damage caused by extreme alcohol intake. This is an important risk to know when it comes to alcohol use. Reach out to a trusted medical professional if you feel your alcohol use is interfering with your health.  

Pregnancy and breastfeeding

When women are pregnant and breastfeeding, their bodies serve a dual purpose. They are not only supporting themselves, but they are supporting a second life. Unfortunately, the lost magnesium often doesn’t get replaced in the women’s body, and the unborn child or the infant receives all of their mother’s magnesium. An OBGYN can help to moderate the amount of magnesium a pregnant mother consumes. 


Age is a factor that makes it more difficult for people to absorb magnesium. Knowing this can help people consult with their doctor and either increase their intake of magnesium-rich foods or start taking a multivitamin. 

Chronic diarrhea

If you have chronic diarrhea lasting longer than 2 days, magnesium can become imbalanced in your body. Instead of being absorbed and used by your body, the magnesium will pass in your stool. If you feel this is a problem, talk to your doctor about a potential treatment for your chronic diarrhea and get your body back in balance.


With Type 1 diabetes, levels of glucose in the kidneys can increase and cause too much magnesium in the body. With Type 2 diabetes, individuals may be unable to absorb magnesium. Either way, both can reduce magnesium in the body to a dangerous level. 

What Are the Symptoms of Magnesium Deficiency? 

Causes of Magnesium Deficiency and How To Avoid Them couple working with insomnia anxiety stess depression sitting at computers

The symptoms of magnesium deficiency include…

  • Irritability
  • Anxiety 
  • Lethargy
  • Fatigue
  • Memory problems
  • Anorexia
  • Loss of appetite 
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting Seizures
  • Muscle weakness
  • Muscle cramps
  • Tremors
  • Vertigo 
  • Difficulty swallowing 
  • Irregular or rapid heartbeat

Furthermore, in addition to experiencing symptoms related to magnesium deficiency, there are also a wide range of clinical conditions that can accompany it. 

  • Depression
  • Dementia
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome 
  • ADHD 
  • Asthma 
  • Colon cancer
  • Epilepsy 
  • Parkinson’s disease 
  • Sleep disorders
  • Fibromyalgia 
  • Migraine headaches
  • Osteoporosis 
  • Premenstrual syndrome 
  • Chest pain 
  • Cardiac arrhythmia 
  • Coronary artery disease
  • Atherosclerosis 
  • Hypertension
  • Type 2 diabetes

Final Thoughts

The causes of magnesium deficiency can be diverse, and it can also create a wide range of symptoms within your body. Because it corresponds with a number of clinical conditions, it’s important to recognize how magnesium deficiency impacts your body and what you can do to combat it. The most important step is reaching out to a medical professional so you can receive sufficient treatment. 

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