Low magnesium is known in research circles as the silent epidemic of our times.
Many of the symptoms of low magnesium are not unique to magnesium deficiency, making it difficult to diagnose with 100% accuracy. Thus quite often low magnesium levels go completely unrecognized… and untreated.
Yet chronic low intake of magnesium is not only extremely common but linked to several disease states, indicating the importance of considering both overt physical symptoms and the presence of other diseases and conditions when considering magnesium status.
Magnesium is an important ingredient to so many of the body’s regulatory and biochemical systems that the impact of low levels spans all areas of health and medical practice. Therefore the symptoms of a magnesium deficit fall into two broad categories – the physical symptoms of overt deficiency and the spectrum of disease states linked to low magnesium levels.
Symptoms include both:
- Classic “Clinical” Symptoms. These physical signs of magnesium deficiency are clearly related to both its physiological role and its significant impact on the healthy balance of minerals such as calcium and potassium. Tics, muscle spasms and cramps, seizures, anxiety, and irregular heart rhythms are among the classic signs and symptoms of low magnesium.
- “Sub-clinical” or “Latent” Symptoms. These symptoms are present but concealed by an inability to distinguish their signs from other disease states. Caused by low magnesium intake prevalent in nearly all industrialized nations, they can include migraine headaches, insomnia, depression, and chronic fatigue, among others.
The subject of subclinical or chronic latent magnesium deficiency has been one of alarm and increased emphasis in research communities. This growing attention is largely due to epidemiological (population study) links found between ongoing chronic low magnesium and some of the more troubling chronic diseases of our time, including hypertension, asthma and osteoporosis.
Compounding the problem is the knowledge that the body actually strips magnesium and calcium from the bones during periods of “functioning” low magnesium. This effect can cause a doubly difficult scenario: seemingly adequate magnesium levels that mask a true deficiency coupled by ongoing damage to bone structures. Thus experts advise the suspicion of magnesium deficiency whenever risk factors for related conditions are present, rather than relying upon tests or overt symptoms alone.