Deficiency of magnesium and its invisible effects

Healthy Foods Contributor
Deficiency of Magnesium
© Tatjana Baibakova |

The second most important mineral for humans is magnesium. Without magnesium, our body will remain in a permanent state of contraction and could not produce energy. The process of production of cholesterol and its flow through bloodstreams are balanced by magnesium. About 300 biochemical reactions in our body need magnesium.

Although magnesium is present in some medicines such as laxatives and antacids and also in many foods. It is very easy that we become magnesium deficient without knowing it. Therefore the deficiency of magnesium is termed as “invisible deficiency”.

According to a report, about 80 percent of Americans are magnesium deficient. While in the UK, 70 percent of women have insufficient intake of magnesium. Magnesium is essential for the human body in large amounts. An adult body contains about 25 grams of magnesium.

Sources of magnesium

Brown rice, green leafy vegetables, nuts, beans, cereals, potato, carrot, and whole wheat bread are sources of magnesium. Bottled water can also be the source of magnesium but it varies by brand and source.

The consumption of magnesium was diminished in the last century due to changing diets and industrialized agriculture. Food of modern diets contains an insufficient amount of magnesium and also reduces the number of minerals from the human body. About 30% to 40% of dietary magnesium is absorbed by the human body.

How the deficiency of magnesium happens

Much soft drink contains phosphoric acid that enhances its flavour; high level of phosphorous in soda reduces the amount of magnesium and other minerals in the human body. Sufficient amount of phosphorous blocks the absorption of minerals. Even drinking soda after a balanced diet can spoil the magnesium as well as other minerals.

Intake of caffeinated beverages such as tea, soda, and coffee regularly, causes magnesium deficiency. Kidneys are the most essential organs that control the magnesium level. Due to the intake of caffeine, the kidney releases extra magnesium from the body.

Magnesium is an essential mineral

Magnesium is useful for every organ in the body, particularly the heart, kidneys, and muscles. Remember, magnesium is mostly stored in bones and organs, where many biochemical reactions are carried out. Magnesium promotes the metabolism and absorption of other minerals such as sodium, potassium, phosphorous, and calcium.

Due to deficiency of magnesium in the body, blood clotting occurs without any wound. This blood-clotting when takes place within blood vessels increases the risk of stroke or heart attack.

Deficiency of magnesium and its symptoms

The requirement of magnesium for women is 310 milligrams and for men is 400 milligram. Some symptoms of magnesium deficiency are nausea, vomiting, appetite loss, weakness, and fatigue. As the deficiency exceeds, you may face tingling and numbness, seizures, abnormal heart rhythms, personality changes, and muscle cramps.

Severe magnesium deficiency results in hypokalemia or hypocalcaemia (low potassium level or low serum calcium) because the homeostasis of minerals is disrupted. It is difficult to assist magnesium status in the body because magnesium is mostly inside cells or in bones. We can use different methods for assessing magnesium status but none is considered satisfactory.


(Written by freelance journalist Sadaf Riaz)

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