Are you aware that around half of the US population consume less than the daily recommended amount of magnesium? This happens due to an excessive intake of processed foods over natural non-processed foods.
Magnesium is an electrolyte which is of utmost importance to maintain strong bones, regulate blood pressure, regulate blood sugar levels, ensure adequate muscle and nerve function, maintain the heart rhythm, and produce enough energy for the body.
What Happens if You Consume Insufficient Magnesium?
Even though is very rare to have a magnesium deficiency, prolonged amounts of time having an insufficient intake of this mineral can cause a condition called hypomagnesemia (low magnesium levels). This condition can produce a wide variety of symptoms such as weakness, fatigue, loss of appetite, muscle cramps, nausea, and even seizures and cardiac arrhythmias.
Low magnesium intake has been related to depression, osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and migraine headaches, among others.
What Conditions or Diseases Can Cause Low or High Magnesium Levels?
Hypomagnesemia (low magnesium levels) may result from inadequate intake of dietary magnesium, or from conditions like chronic diarrhoea, malabsorption, alcoholism, or chronic stress, among others.
Hypermagnesemia (high magnesium levels) is something that happens very rarely because the kidney usually eliminates the excess of this electrolyte. Nevertheless, it can occur due to an excessive ingest of magnesium-rich antacids, and in cases where pregnant women with preeclampsia or eclampsia (a life-threatening condition that can happen during the last months of pregnancy) are receiving intravenous magnesium sulfate to prevent convulsions.
What Can You Do to Keep Up Your Magnesium Intake?
Magnesium can be widely found in many foods, such as green leafy vegetables, nuts, seeds, fruit, meat, fish, whole grains, and even in some fortified foods like breakfast cereals. Beverages like milk, tap water, mineral water, and bottled water, also contain magnesium, even though its concentrations can vary depending on the brand. Usually, deionized bottled water does not contain magnesium.
Keep in mind that processed foods, and vegetables or fruits that have been treated with fertilisers, may not contain enough magnesium for you to reach the daily recommended dose. So, magnesium supplements can be taken orally, as long as a doctor has advised you to do it. Intravenous magnesium sulfate can be administered only under strict medical vigilance and as treatment of very particular conditions, such as severe hypomagnesemia and preeclampsia or eclampsia.
How Do Know if Your Magnesium Levels are Normal?
Since it is not part of a routine blood panel, your doctor will determine if you need to get tested to know your magnesium levels. This is usually going to be determined based on whether you have any signs or symptoms that can point out to a magnesium imbalance, or if you have chronic conditions such as uncontrolled diabetes or renal failure.
There is not a single test that can accurately determine the exact amount of magnesium level in the body, however, the preferred method of analysis in through serum magnesium concentration, which is done by taking a blood sample.
Another method involves taking a 24-hour urine sample to measure the amount of magnesium contained in it. This means that you will need to gather all the urine you excreted during a 24-hour period, without discarding any of it, and then take it to the laboratory to be analysed. This method is less frequently used because conditions that affect renal excretion of magnesium, such as renal failure, can alter the result.
In any condition, magnesium levels must be correlated with physical examination and other electrolytes such as potassium, calcium, and sodium. Usually, alterations of any of these electrolytes will affect the others.
If you’re interested in learning more about magnesium and why they are essential to your body, read on more about it in our biomarker post here!
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