While we're typically on the lookout for the more common signals of nutrient deficiency — say, fatigue or hair loss(1) — there are some downright strange signs that could point to a lack of magnesium in your diet. Magnesium, a vital mineral, plays a crucial role in over 300 enzyme reactions in the human body, including protein synthesis, muscle and nerve function, blood glucose control, and blood pressure regulation(2). But what about those offbeat symptoms that could hint you're lacking this crucial mineral?
1. You're Having Trouble Sleeping
While sleep disruptions are associated with many factors, a magnesium deficiency can be an unexpected culprit. A study published in the Journal of Research in Medical Sciences found a relationship between magnesium levels and the quality of sleep. They found that individuals with lower magnesium levels reported poorer quality sleep and higher insomnia scores(3). Insomnia, sleep disturbances, and poor sleep quality are all uncommon but tangible signals that your body might be craving more magnesium.
2. You're Experiencing More Stress than Usual
We all experience stress. It's a part of life. But did you know that this everyday emotional state can also be a signal of magnesium deficiency? It's a bit of a chicken-and-egg scenario; stress can lead to decreased magnesium levels, and insufficient magnesium can make it harder for the body to handle stress(4). So, if you're feeling particularly on edge without a clear cause, it might be worth examining your magnesium intake.
3. You're Having Weird Muscle Movements
Fasciculations, or muscle twitches, are often harmless, but did you know they can be linked to low magnesium levels? A clinical review published in the BMJ highlighted the relationship between lower magnesium levels and increased neuromuscular excitability, leading to muscle twitching or spasms(5). So, those bizarre, uncontrollable movements in your eyelid or calf muscle may be your body telling you to up your magnesium intake.
4. You Have Unusually Cold Hands and Feet
If you consistently find your hands and feet colder than the rest of your body without a clear reason, it could signal a magnesium deficiency. While it might seem strange, there's a scientific explanation: magnesium helps maintain healthy blood flow and blood pressure(6). When magnesium levels dip, it can cause blood vessels to constrict, leading to reduced circulation, especially to your extremities, and causing them to feel colder than usual(7).
5. You Get Migraines Often
If you're a frequent sufferer of migraines, a deficiency in magnesium might be contributing to your pain. A study published in Headache: The Journal of Head and Face Pain concluded that magnesium levels play a critical role in the development of migraines(8). While this symptom is a little less "weird," the connection between mineral deficiency and such a debilitating condition is quite surprising.
6. You're Experiencing Constant Thirst
Magnesium helps regulate water balance in the body. When the body is deficient in magnesium, it can cause you to feel thirsty all the time — even when you're drinking plenty of fluids(9). Think about it as your body's quirky way of nudging you toward a nutrient it needs.
7. You Have Unusual Heart Rhythms
This might feel unsettling, but irregular heart rhythms can be linked to magnesium deficiency. A clinical study found that low serum magnesium levels were associated with a higher risk of developing atrial fibrillation, a type of irregular heartbeat(10).
8. You Crave Chocolate All the Time
While this might be your favorite symptom, constant cravings for chocolate could suggest a deficiency in magnesium. Chocolate, particularly dark chocolate, is a good source of magnesium(11). So, those incessant cravings might actually
be your body's innovative way of guiding you toward a magnesium-rich food source.
9. Your Senses Are Heightened
A strange, but real symptom of magnesium deficiency is heightened senses – specifically, sound sensitivity. This can make everyday noises seem intolerably loud. A study published in Magnesium Research found that low magnesium levels might be linked to increased sensitivity to sound, pointing to the role of magnesium in nerve function(12).
10. You Have Frequent Acid Reflux
Frequent acid reflux or heartburn could be another surprising symptom of magnesium deficiency. Magnesium helps relax muscles within the digestive tract, including the muscular valves that keep stomach acid from going back up the esophagus(13). A lack of magnesium could cause these muscles to contract more, leading to symptoms like heartburn.
Magnesium and You
Feeling surprised by some of these signs? It's clear that magnesium plays a myriad of roles in our body's functions, many of which we might not readily associate with this nutrient. However, you can always increase your intake of this key mineral by taking a daily magnesium supplement and incorporating more magnesium-rich foods into your diet.(14) So, listen to your body - it might be telling you something really important!