How does the body use magnesium

Magnesium deficiency

Magnesium deficiency: symptoms

There are no symptoms that are unambiguous for a magnesium deficiency. Symptoms such as calf cramps or spasms of the masticatory muscles occur quickly and are quite common. Certain forms of cardiac arrhythmias can also indicate an insufficient supply of magnesium. The same applies to such unspecific complaints as fatigue, nervousness or loss of appetite. The most important complaints of magnesium deficiency at a glance:

  • Muscle twitching
  • dizziness
  • Indigestion (diarrhea, constipation, or both alternately)
  • irritability
  • fatigue
  • Palpitations and racing heart
  • inner unrest
  • a headache
  • depressed states
  • Numbness of hands and feet
  • Circulatory disorders

However, all these symptoms can also occur in many other disorders or diseases and are therefore not proof of a magnesium deficiency.

Magnesium deficiency can occur as early as infancy. Symptoms are failure to thrive, susceptibility to infection or a tendency to seizures. Older children suffer from fatigue and poor concentration. In girls, menstruation can start late or be accompanied by particularly severe, cramp-like pain.

Magnesium deficiency is also not uncommon in pregnant women. Signs include nausea, vomiting, water retention, and high blood pressure. Magnesium supplements can reduce painful pre-contractions. However, around the due date, pregnant women should not take magnesium, as alleged pre-contractions could already be contractions.

Magnesium deficiency: causes

A magnesium deficiency arises either from an insufficient intake of magnesium or from an increased loss. It is estimated that 10 to 20 percent of the world's population suffers from a magnesium deficiency. Hypomagnesaemia is particularly widespread among adolescents.

However, the body has some mechanisms that prevent too much magnesium from being excreted and which also promote magnesium absorption from the intestine. These regulatory mechanisms are only disturbed by genetic factors in a maximum of one percent of the world's population. Due to a genetic defect in the reuptake channels in the kidneys, there is not enough magnesium in the body. Deficiency symptoms then appear in childhood or even earlier.

In most cases, other factors are the cause of a magnesium deficiency. These can be:

  • unbalanced diet or malnutrition
  • eating disorder
  • increased need due to sport, stress, pregnancy
  • alcoholism
  • Inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis)
  • inflammatory bowel disease (such as Crohn's disease), celiac disease or intestinal surgery
  • prolonged diarrhea and frequent vomiting
  • Burns
  • chronic kidney disease
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Under or overactive parathyroid gland
  • Overactive thyroid gland (hyperthyroidism)

Various drugs can also negatively affect the magnesium balance in the body. These include diuretics such as diuretics and antibiotics.

A magnesium deficiency often goes unnoticed. Only at very low concentrations below 0.5 millimoles per liter can the magnesium deficiency make itself felt with symptoms. The doctor can determine the magnesium deficiency through a blood test and a urine sample.

Magnesium deficiency: consequences

A magnesium deficiency should be treated as quickly as possible. It can influence the rest of the mineral balance in such a way that the calcium and potassium concentrations also decrease. Like magnesium, these minerals are essential for normal body functions, especially for the heartbeat. In the long run, a magnesium deficiency can have far-reaching consequences.

If it is treated and the magnesium concentration is balanced, the above-mentioned symptoms of magnesium deficiency recede very quickly.

Magnesium deficiency: what to do?

In the case of mild hypomagnesaemia, it is sufficient to pay attention to a diet rich in magnesium. The mineral is found, for example, in wheat bran, sesame, poppy seeds, peanuts, almonds and oat flakes.

However, the mineral balance should be checked more frequently by the doctor, especially if there is a kidney disease or diuretic medication is taken. By taking special magnesium-containing preparations, a pronounced magnesium deficiency can usually be remedied within a few weeks. At a Magnesium deficiency if the symptoms are severe, the mineral must be given through a vein.

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