Magnesium Deficiency Symptoms And Supplementation Advice (Half of Americans are deficient!)

Magnesium deficiency is highly probable in our modern daysMagnesium is out there with vitamin D and omega 3’s as something almost everyone needs to supplement with. Originally, humans were gaining a lot of their daily magnesium intake from water but nowadays because of industrialization and water filtering most of the magnesium is removed. Some people in rural towns might also have “hard water” problems where minerals destroy the plumbing over time so they remove naturally occurring minerals (including magnesium of course) to preserve the plumbing but harm the minerals in their drinking water! Most likely you are under the RDA for magnesium unless you eat a ridiculous amount of magnesium rich foods such as spinach (my favorite) and are drinking spring water. Even then, most soil is depleted of magnesium which makes it even harder to realistically expect you are getting as much magnesium in your food as you might think from watching a nutrition counter such as The USDA say that over half of the people living in the US are under the RDA for magnesium which is actually too low to start with.

Also, something that has personally affected me and caused me to often get more magnesium deficiency symptoms is drinking alcohol. At some point I was drinking almost every night and would get a common magnesium deficiency symptom which is night cramps. VERY annoying! You basically wake up with a massive cramp in one of your muscles. For me it’s always either my neck or my calves. For other it might be somewhere else. To remedy is I supplement with at least 450mg of magnesium, especially when I drink alcohol which quickly depletes your magnesium reserves, more on supplementing magnesium later.

Finally, if you use calcium supplements, it’s even more important to make sure you also have magnesium intake/supplements. Without adequate magnesium you might actually be endangering yourself by using too much calcium supplements which can end up actually accelerating heart or stroke risk. As a side note, for those taking calcium supplements (a lot of older women get this recommendation from their doctor) make sure to also have adequate vitamin D levels and ideally supplement with vitamin K2. This is necessary for the calcium to properly be used by your body.

Common symptoms of magnesium deficiency:

Image of symptoms of lack of magnesiumGeneral symptoms: Loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, fatigue and weakness

More specific symptoms of magnesium deficiency are: Numbness, tingling, muscle contractions and cramps, seizures.

These symptoms were taken from the office of dietary supplements. I personally have had for a long time in my life feelings of numbness, tingling and especially muscle contractions/cramps. Once I started drinking alcohol more than a night a week I also was starting to get these symptoms almost daily. This is because alcohol depletes your magnesium reserves as I later learned. I also think this is the reason a lot of drinkers can have sleep trouble ( By the way, I made a post here on how to prevent a hangover), since their magnesium reserves are so low and it’s an important mineral for overall body “calmness”.

Finally, as I mention in my article on ways to help you sleep, magnesium can help you sleep better, especially if taken before bed, which I do every night.

What is the Best Magnesium Supplement?

magnesium malate supplement now foodsIn the case of magnesium, supplement type/quality is very important. The first available type of magnesium supplement was magnesium oxide which is VERY poorly absorbed by the body. Because of this it’s in most multivitamins and is available everywhere. However, its ineffective. It’s simply less bio available for your body to use. Some research shows it can be as low as 10%. So to be on the safe side it’s best to use the best absorbed magnesium forms of which there are many. Magnesium citrate & Malate are good examples. You can find magnesium citrate in most supplement shops nowadays. If you have to use oxide, make sure to take a higher magnesium oxide dosage to compensate for the lower absorption percentage. UPDATE: Magnesium aspartate might be problematic so I no longer recommend it and switched to only using citrate/malate.

I currently take 450mg of magnesium citrate or malate a day since my tap water is very low in it and it’s mostly what I drink. However I eat a lot of spinach on a daily basis, about 200g which contains about 150mg of magnesium. You basically want to aim to reach at least 600mg each day. While some websites might recommend sources such as whole wheat you should of course avoid it due to it’s high carb load and the fact that it contains phytates which basically binds to the mineral content (such as magnesium) it might actually have, making your body unable to use it (aka it’s not very bio available). Of course wheat in general contains a lot of other toxic elements that those on a paleo diet are familiar with…

When to take magnesium supplements

You can take it anytime but it’s best to take it before going to bed. It will improve your quality of sleep by a lot. I personally mix it with potassium supplements nowadays and just leave both near my bed stand.

Join the Conversation


  1. Magnesium supplements should be taken, like you said, before bed, unlike Vitamin D, which is best to be taken in the morning so make sure you read the label before medicating yourself. I don’t have whole wheat because I’m gluten intolerant so I have to resort to supplementing my diet. Dark leafy greens, nuts and seeds or fish are great natural Magnesium sources but in most cases your diet isn’t able to provide all the Magnesium your body needs.

  2. I work out on a daily basis and in the last couple of weeks I had terrible muscle cramps but I blamed them on my routine. I went to the doctor for routine check-up and he told me I am very low on Magnesium so I started taking some supplements and now the cramps are less frequent.

  3. Interesting about the cramps. I get them in bed usually calf or foot area. But I can’t understand why for the past 12 years my doctors have no explanation why my feet are getting progressively numb and now start causing me to side swipe door openings or hall walls occasionally. I’m very active and have plenty of energy; never get tired but do have Parkinson’s, for 2 years. No problems from that yet. Do have problems sleeping but that is a Parkinson’s problem too. Now my multi Nutrient says for the magnesium “(as magnesium oxide, magnesium citrate, magnesium taurinate, magnesium glycinate, & magnesium ascorbate)” does that mean it has all of those or one, which ever they have available to use? To be taken with meals. This company, Stop Aging Now uses all natural herbs and things in creating their products and have very good reviews. Do you have any info that I would be interested in? By the way I’m 81 going on 40. My doctors can’t believe my age and I certainly don’t feel, look, dress, act or do thing old people do.

    1. I’m much younger but I imagine at this point if you have not tried it already you should supplement with magnesium (which is NOT oxide) and maybe potassium which has definitely worked with me (if I stop supplementation after a while I get cramps again). As for the list order, it puts magnesium oxide as that means it has the highest % of the content, than citrate has #2 highest %. Basically magnesium oxide is very poorly absorbed and cheap so they put it as the biggest blend and I think that could mean as high as 99%, with the #2 item being only 0.4%, 0.3%, and the last one 0.3% of it all. So in this case, I count anything with magnesium oxide as the #1 ingredient as a badly absorbed Magnesium supplement and I would not count it.

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