Magnesium Deficiencies in Women

| Women's Health

pills and water

Magnesium may seem like a relatively unimportant mineral when it comes to promoting our health, but the truth is low levels of this vital substance can lead to a ridiculous amount of problems! According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, the majority of people in the United States do not get enough magnesium from their diets, and while this does not necessarily guarantee a magnesium deficiency, it can stimulate a host of other issues. Every organ in our body, most prominently our heart, muscles and kidneys, relies heavily on the benefits offered by magnesium. While it may be difficult to attain this mineral through our diet, you can always consider supplementation to keep your levels up! Keep reading to learn more about the symptoms, causes, and relief of magnesium deficiencies.

Symptoms: There are a wide variety of symptoms for magnesium deficiencies, which often lead people to a different conclusion regarding the source of their problems. However, if you are experiencing several of the following issues, it may be time to get in contact with your doctor: (via Food Renegade)

  • Seizures
  • Behavioral problems
  • Depression
  • Asthma
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety or poor reactions to stressors
  • Muscle spasms and cramps
  • Vertigo
  • Heart arrhythmia
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Hair Loss
  • Cold hands and feet

For a more complete list, check out this link.

menstrual cramps

Causes: The current RDA, or recommended daily allowance, of magnesium is around 400 milligrams per day for a healthy adult. For women, the average amount consumed daily in America is a lot closer to 230! What is causing this widespread deficiency? Well, the biggest factors include: (via Wellness FX)

  • Low intake of magnesium-rich foods: Think of the primary foods that we consume on a daily basis: meat, milk, sugar, soda, white flour. All of these contain very little magnesium, so the fact that our diets are heavily supported by these foods suggests that our intake of magnesium is pretty much nonexistent. Magnesium is found in plants, so focusing on foods such as green leafy vegetables will promote a more balanced diet.
  • Gastrointestinal diseases: Sometimes the body has a hard time digesting magnesium, due to the pH levels in our intestines. People who struggle with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or ulcerative colitis have a difficult time processing magnesium, and are limited in the amount of certain minerals they can absorb. Check out these 10 snacks to promote digestion!
  • Too much calcium intake: And here we were thinking that we could never get too much calcium! Apparently the relationship between calcium and magnesium consumption is a delicate one; you need calcium in order to better absorb magnesium, but an overabundance of one will actually hinder the digestion of the other!
  • Certain medical conditions: Studies have shown that medical conditions like diabetes, pancreatitis, hyperthyroidism, kidney disease, heavy menstrual periods, excessive sweating, and prolonged stress are big contributors to low magnesium levels. Treating these conditions could go a long way in relieving your deficiency!

With so many causes, it's no wonder so many people have low levels of magnesium!

woman putting lotion on her knee

Treatment and relief: There are a variety of ways you can treat your magnesium deficiency, although make sure that you are in communication with your doctor! You can attack your deficiency from several angles, including dietary, supplementary, and transdermal  methods.

  • Dietary: As we mentioned before, stocking your diet full of magnesium-packed foods may go a long way in relieving your deficiency. In addition to leafy green veggies, also try to incorporate foods like tofu, beans, whole grains, nuts, pumpkin seeds, oatmeal, bananas, baked potatoes, and dark chocolate into your daily menu.
  • Supplementary: Magnesium supplements are widely available at your local pharmacy, but make sure that you discuss with your doctor what dose you should be taking. Doses that exceed 123 milligrams may cause gastrointestinal distress and diarrhea. The time-release capsules allow your body to absorb the magnesium at a slower rate, which may allow you to benefit more than just eating mineral-heavy foods.
  • Transdermal: Studies have shown that magnesium is more easily absorbed through transdermal application (or through the skin), than it is internally. There are a variety of magnesium oils you can choose from, or you can try taking epsom salt baths, as these promote both magnesium absorption and relaxation! For our favorite go-to beauty oils for every day use, click here!

The best way to treat your deficiency is to use a combination of the above methods, as a singular attempt may prove unsuccessful. Keep in mind that your deficiency and the symptoms do not have to be permanent! Magnesium deficiencies are easily treated once diagnosed, so if you believe you may be at risk it is time to check in with your physician and get some help.

Sources: Wellness FXUniversity of Maryland Medical CenterFood Renegade, Ben Greenfield Fitness