Magnesium is important to the health of nearly every cell in your body, especially your heart, kidneys and muscles. Symptoms of a deficiency can include unexplained fatigue, abnormal heart rhythms, eye twitches and muscle spasms.

As of 2011 data,1 45 percent of American adults do not get the recommended dietary allowance amount (RDA) of magnesium from their diet. Teen statistics are even more dire. Data2 published in 2014 suggests nearly 92 percent of teens aged 14 to 18 do not meet the estimated average requirement for magnesium from food alone — likely because they do not eat fresh vegetables on a regular basis.

Unfortunately, determining a deficiency of magnesium from a simple blood sample isn’t possible, as only 1 percent of the magnesium in your body is found in your bloodstream. Your best bet is to evaluate and track signs and symptoms of magnesium insufficiency, and to make sure you eat magnesium-rich foods and/or take a magnesium supplement, balanced with vitamins D3, K2 and calcium.

Magnesium Is Vital for Optimal Health

As the fourth most abundant mineral in your body, magnesium is involved in over 600 different reactions in your body. It’s vitally important for biological function and optimal health as it plays a role in:

Creation of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the energy currency of your body3,4

Metabolism of calcium, potassium, zinc, phosphorous, iron, sodium, hydrochloric acid, acetylcholine and nitric oxide (NO), as well as many enzymes, and the activation of thiamine5

Mitochondrial function and health. Magnesium is required both for increasing the number of mitochondria in your cells and for increasing mitochondrial efficiency

Regulation of blood sugar and insulin sensitivity, which is important for the prevention of type 2 diabetes6,7,8,9

(In one study,10 prediabetics with the highest magnesium intake reduced their risk for blood sugar and metabolic problems by 71 percent)

Relaxation of blood vessels and normalizing blood pressure

Detoxification, including the synthesis of glutathione

Muscle and nerve function, including the action of your heart muscle

Antioxidant defense via a number of different mechanisms, including anti-inflammatory activity and support of endothelial and mitochondrial function11

Improved sleep

Mental and physical relaxation; stress antidote12

Magnesium Deficiency Is Commonplace  

A lack of  magnesium will impede your cellular metabolic function and deteriorate mitochondrial function, which in turn can lead to more serious health problems. Eating plenty of organic unprocessed foods tend to be your best bet, but since most soils have become severely depleted of nutrients, some magnesium experts believe virtually everyone needs to take supplemental magnesium. As noted in a 2001 paper on the pathology of magnesium deficiency:13

“Unfortunately, [magnesium] Mg absorption and elimination depend on a very large number of variables, at least one of which often goes awry, leading to a Mg deficiency that can present with many signs and symptoms. Mg absorption requires plenty of Mg in the diet, [selenium] Se, parathyroid hormone (PTH) and vitamins B6 and D. Furthermore, it is hindered by excess fat.

On the other hand, Mg levels are decreased by excess ethanol, salt, phosphoric acid (sodas) and coffee intake, by profuse sweating, by intense, prolonged stress, by excessive menstruation and vaginal flux, by diuretics and other drugs and by certain parasites (pinworms). The very small probability that all the variables affecting Mg levels will behave favorably, results in a high probability of a gradually intensifying Mg deficiency.”