What are the Signs of Magnesium Deficiency?

Magnesium Deficiency Symptoms
Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge

Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge

Magnesium plays a crucial role in brain and mental health. Studies have shown that daily magnesium intake decreases depression and anxiety in adults (Jacka et al., 2009). On the other hand, low magnesium levels are linked to callous or unemotional traits in children. 

Maintaining your child’s magnesium normal range through diet or supplements to support overall health, including brain and mental health, is essential. When the body lacks the necessary amount of magnesium, the signs of low magnesium will show. And often, it manifests itself as dysregulated behaviors and reactive emotions, but luckily, supplementing can help alleviate symptoms. 

What Causes Low Magnesium?

What are the Causes of Magnesium Deficiency

What causes magnesium deficiency? With stress rampant among children, teens, and adults, magnesium deficiencies are more common than most realize. Understanding the low magnesium causes is essential in identifying and preventing this condition. Here are what causes magnesium to be low:

  • Inadequate Dietary Intake: A diet low in magnesium rich foods, such as nuts, seeds, leafy green vegetables, and whole grains, can lead to insufficient magnesium intake.
  • Gastrointestinal Disorders: Conditions like Crohn's disease, celiac disease, and other gastrointestinal disorders can impair magnesium absorption.
  • Alcohol Consumption: Excessive alcohol intake can interfere with magnesium absorption and increase urinary excretion, contributing to the symptoms of low magnesium levels.
  • Medications: Some medications, such as diuretics, proton pump inhibitors, and certain antibiotics, may interfere with magnesium absorption or increase its excretion.
  • Chronic Stress: Stress can lead to magnesium depletion as the body may use up more magnesium during times of stress.
  • Kidney Disorders: Impaired kidney function can result in increased magnesium excretion, leading to lower magnesium levels.
  • Diabetes: People with diabetes may be at an increased risk of magnesium deficiency due to factors like increased urination and impaired magnesium utilization.
  • Aging: Older adults may be more prone to magnesium deficiency due to reduced absorption and increased excretion.
  • High Calcium or Vitamin D Intake: Excessive intake of calcium or vitamin D supplements without sufficient magnesium can lead to an imbalance and reduce magnesium availability.
  • Certain Health Conditions: Conditions such as hyperthyroidism and parathyroid disorders may affect magnesium levels.

What are the 11 Warning Signs of Magnesium Deficiency?

Magnesium deficiency can lead to various symptoms impacting your overall health and well-being. Since magnesium is essential in many bodily functions, low magnesium levels symptoms can have far-reaching consequences. I recently worked with a child with OCD who had low magnesium symptoms, and thankfully she benefited from magnesium supplementation.

Some of the common magnesium deficiency symptoms are:

  • Muscle weakness, cramps, and spasms, especially at night
  • Tremors or twitching in the muscles 
  • Weakness and fatigue 
  • Anxiety and depression 
  • Insomnia or trouble sleeping 
  • Loss of appetite and nausea 
  • Abnormal heart rhythms or irregular heartbeat, including arrhythmias
  • High blood pressure
  • Migraines and headaches caused by dilated blood vessels and neurotransmitter dysfunction
  • Osteoporosis and bone health issues 
  • Seizures (in severe cases)

Magnesium Deficiency and Associated Symptoms

What are the Effects of Magnesium Deficiency on Mental Health? 

The symptoms of low magnesium can negatively impact our physical and mental health. Low magnesium side effects have been linked to an elevated risk of anxiety, depression, and ADHD. Magnesium helps regulate the neurotransmitters responsible for transmitting messages in the brain. Low magnesium levels can create an imbalance of these neurotransmitters, contributing to or worsening mental health symptoms.

Moreover, magnesium plays an important role in the body's stress response by controlling the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, which manages stress levels. Chronic stress can drain magnesium levels, resulting in a dangerous cycle where severe symptoms of magnesium deficiency fuel elevated stress levels, further depleting magnesium stores and heightening the risk of anxiety and depression.

Studies also demonstrate that magnesium supplementation can be beneficial in managing specific mental health conditions. For example, a meta-analysis of 18 randomized controlled trials found that magnesium supplementation can significantly enhance depression symptoms (Tarleton et al., 2017). Similarly, magnesium supplementation helped improve hyperactivity and impulsivity in children with ADHD in a separate study (Mousain-Bosc et al., 2004).

What Does Low Magnesium Mean to Mental Health? 

Magnesium supplementation has been found to benefit mental health, including calming the brain, improving ADHD behaviors, and improving brain chemicals associated with anxiety, OCD, depression, and ADHD. It can also reduce intrusive thoughts and anxiety. 

An adult’s recommended dietary allowance (RDA) is 400 mg of magnesium, but those with clinical mental health issues may require more. However, many people in the United States don’t meet the RDA. Magnesium L-threonate and glycinate are two preferred forms of magnesium for mental health symptoms because they support brain functioning. However, all forms of magnesium are essential for optimal brain and body functioning and have different effects on the body.

How to Support Kids with Mental Health Issues 

Taking a multifaceted approach is how parents can best help their children struggling with behavior or mental health. Parents can help ensure their child's diet includes foods with magnesium. Consider giving them magnesium supplements too. Magnesium supplement benefits include enhancement of one’s mental well-being. Introducing magnesium in other ways is helpful as well.

What foods have magnesium? Foods rich in magnesium include nuts, seeds (like almonds and pumpkin seeds), leafy green vegetables (such as spinach and kale), whole grains, legumes, fish (like mackerel and salmon), avocado, bananas, dark chocolate, and tofu. Incorporating these good sources of magnesium into your child’s diet can help maintain adequate levels for various physiological functions in the body.

Aside from taking magnesium supplements and following a magnesium-rich diet like green leafy vegetables, whole grains, fish, and nuts, parents may also use other forms of magnesium such as lotions and baths. For example, magnesium lotions applied at night may help improve sleep quality. In addition, Epsom salt, or magnesium sulfate, can be added to their bath to help reduce anxiety. These are great complements to eating food high in magnesium.

Our Brain Behavior Reset Program is designed to help kids with mental health issues such as ADHD, anxiety, depression, OCD, and PANS/PANDAS using a multi-faceted approach. We use scientifically proven methods to calm the brain and regulate behavior. 

We combine magnesium supplementation with neurofeedback, PEMF, cognitive behavior therapy, and other natural solutions to improve attention, thinking, and action. As the body begins to heal naturally, lasting positive changes are achieved.

In addition, we work closely with parents to guide effective behavioral and communication techniques to promote healthy behavior. By shifting specific approaches, parents can reinforce positive behaviors and encourage change.

What does magnesium do for the body?

Magnesium is an essential mineral that supports muscle and nerve function, energy production, bone health, and heart regulation. It also plays a crucial role in immune system support, blood sugar regulation, and mood maintenance, emphasizing its importance for overall physiological well-being.

What are the most prominent magnesium deficiency signs?

There are various signs of a magnesium deficiency but some are more prominent than others, including muscle cramps and spasms, fatigue, weakness, nausea, loss of appetite, abnormal heart rhythms, tingling or numbness, and personality changes. If you’re severely magnesium deficient, you’ll likely suffer more serious complications, so it's essential to address any concerns with a healthcare professional for proper evaluation and guidance.

What are some weird magnesium deficiency symptoms?


Severe magnesium deficiency may present with less common symptoms such as muscle twitches, personality changes, abnormal eye movements, changes in heart rhythm, and hyperventilation. These unusual signs, in addition to more common symptoms like muscle cramps and fatigue, highlight the importance of consulting with a healthcare professional for accurate diagnosis and appropriate intervention.

What is hypomagnesemia? 

Hypomagnesemia is a medical condition characterized by an abnormally low level of magnesium in the blood. It can result from various causes of low magnesium, including inadequate dietary intake, gastrointestinal disorders that impair absorption, kidney problems, or certain medications, and it may lead to symptoms such as muscle cramps, weakness, abnormal heart rhythms, and neuromuscular issues. Severe hypomagnesaemia symptoms require medical attention and treatment to restore to normal magnesium levels.

What are the magnesium deficiency symptoms in females?

While magnesium deficiency symptoms are generally similar for both genders, women may experience specific effects related to reproductive health, such as increased menstrual cramps and PMS symptoms. Additionally, magnesium's role in bone health could be particularly relevant to women, given their higher susceptibility to osteoporosis.

Why would your magnesium be low?

Low magnesium levels can result from factors like inadequate dietary intake, gastrointestinal disorders, alcohol consumption, certain medications, chronic stress, kidney disorders, diabetes, aging, and imbalances with high calcium or vitamin D intake.

How to tell if your magnesium is low?

Identifying low magnesium levels can be challenging due to nonspecific symptoms, but signs such as muscle cramps, fatigue, abnormal heart rhythms, tingling, and personality changes may indicate a potential deficiency.

How to Treat Low Magnesium Levels? 

To treat the symptoms of lack of magnesium, one can make dietary changes by incorporating food with magnesium. Consider magnesium supplements under medical guidance and address underlying causes such as specific health conditions or medications. Regularly monitoring magnesium levels when your child is lacking magnesium is necessary. Consulting with a healthcare professional is essential to ensure an effective and safe low magnesium treatment at home.

How to Test for Magnesium Deficiency at Home?

Testing if your child is low on magnesium at home is challenging, as accurate assessment typically requires blood tests that measure magnesium levels. Home testing kits for magnesium are not widely available or reliable. If you suspect magnesium deficiency, it is advisable to consult with a healthcare professional who can perform the necessary magnesium blood test to assess magnesium levels accurately. A low magnesium test done at home may not provide the precision and reliability needed for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate intervention.

What Foods Have Magnesium in Them?

A good magnesium-rich food list includes nuts (almonds, cashews), seeds (pumpkin, sunflower), leafy green vegetables (spinach, kale), whole grains (quinoa, oats), legumes (beans, lentils), fish (mackerel, salmon), avocado, bananas, dairy products, dark chocolate, and tofu. Incorporating diverse sources of magnesium in food into contributes to various physiological functions in the body.

Why should I take magnesium every day for mental health issues?

Magnesium plays a role in various physiological processes that can influence mental health, and some studies suggest a potential link between magnesium deficiency and certain mental health issues.

How to get more magnesium in your body?

To increase magnesium intake, incorporate magnesium-rich foods into your diet such as nuts, seeds, leafy green vegetables, whole grains, legumes, fish, fruits, and dairy. If necessary, consult with a healthcare professional for personalized advice on magnesium supplements, considering factors like absorption and tolerability. Additionally, be mindful of cooking methods, limit alcohol and caffeine intake, stay hydrated, and maintain a balanced diet to support overall health and magnesium balance.

What are the health benefits of magnesium supplements?

Magnesium supplements may offer health benefits, including muscle function support, migraine prevention, bone health contribution, and blood pressure regulation. But the main benefit of magnesium for mental health is its potential calming effects on anxiety and stress.

Can low magnesium kill you?

Severe magnesium deficiency problems, if left untreated, can lead to serious complications and, in extreme cases, may be life-threatening. However, it's essential to note that significant magnesium deficiency leading to life-threatening situations is relatively rare, and most people can address magnesium levels through dietary changes or supplements under medical guidance.


Jacka, F. N., Overland, S., Stewart, R., Tell, G. S., Bjelland, I., & Mykletun, A. (2009). Association Between Magnesium Intake and Depression and Anxiety in Community-Dwelling Adults: The Hordaland Health Study. Australian & New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 43(1), 45–52. https://doi.org/10.1080/00048670802534408

Mousain-Bosc, M., Roche, M., Rapin, J., & Bali, J.-P. (2004). Magnesium VitB6 Intake Reduces Central Nervous System Hyperexcitability in Children. Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 23(5), 545S548S. https://doi.org/10.1080/07315724.2004.10719400

Tarleton, E. K., Littenberg, B., MacLean, C. D., Kennedy, A. G., & Daley, C. (2017). Role of magnesium supplementation in the treatment of depression: A randomized clinical trial. PLOS ONE, 12(6), e0180067. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0180067

Always remember… “Calm Brain, Happy Family™”

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There are 3 ways to work with Dr. Roseann: 


You can get her books for parents and professionals, including: It’s Gonna Be OK™: Proven Ways to Improve Your Child’s Mental Health, Teletherapy Toolkit™ and Brain Under Attack: A Resource For Parents and Caregivers of Children With PANS, PANDAS, and Autoimmune Encephalopathy.

If you are a business or organization that needs proactive guidance to support employee mental health or an organization looking for a brand representative, check out Dr. Roseann’s media page and professional speaking page to see how we can work together. 

Dr. Roseann is a Children’s Mental Health Expert and Licensed Therapist who has been featured in/on hundreds of media outlets including The Mel Robbins Show, CBS, NBC, PIX11 NYC, Today, FORBES, CNN, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Business Insider, Women’s Day, Healthline, CNET, Parade Magazine and PARENTS. FORBES called her, “A thought leader in children’s mental health.

Dr. Roseann - Brain Behavior Reset Parent Toolkit

She coined the terms, “Re-entry panic syndrome” and “eco-anxiety” and is a frequent contributor to media on mental health. 

Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge has three decades of experience in working with children, teens and their families with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism, concussion, dyslexia and learning disability, anxiety, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), depression and mood disorder, Lyme Disease, and PANS/PANDAS using science-backed natural mental health solutions such as supplements, magnesium, nutrition, QEEG Brain maps, neurofeedback, PEMF, psychotherapy and other non-medication approaches. 

She is the author of three bestselling books, It’s Gonna Be OK!: Proven Ways to Improve Your Child's Mental Health, The Teletherapy Toolkit, and Brain Under Attack. Dr. Roseann is known for offering a message of hope through science-endorsed methods that promote a calm brain. 

Her trademarked BrainBehaviorResetⓇ Program and It’s Gonna be OK!Ⓡ Podcast has been a cornerstone for thousands of parents facing mental health, behavioral or neurodevelopmental challenges.

She is the founder and director of The Global Institute of Children’s Mental Health, Neurotastic™Brain Formulas and Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge, LLC. Dr. Roseann is a Board Certified Neurofeedback (BCN) Practitioner, a Board Member of the Northeast Region Biofeedback Society (NRBS), Certified Integrative Mental Health Professional (CIMHP) and an Amen Clinic Certified Brain Health Coach.  She is also a member of The International Lyme Disease and Associated Disease Society (ILADS), The American Psychological Association (APA), Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) National Association of School Psychologists (NASP), International OCD Foundation (IOCDF).

© Roseann-Capanna-Hodge, LLC 2023

Disclaimer: This article is not intended to give health advice and it is recommended to consult with a physician before beginning any new wellness regime. *The effectiveness of diagnosis and treatment vary by patient and condition. Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge, LLC does not guarantee certain results.

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