We hear a lot about the consequences of low iron or potassium levels. However, there’s another element that’s equally vital to your health. Many Americans don’t get enough magnesium, and low levels of this vital mineral can cause some serious problems.
Like calcium, magnesium is a macro-mineral, meaning your body needs a sizable amount to function properly. Whole grains, nuts, and dark, leafy green vegetables are all rich in magnesium. Still, up to 80% of Americans suffer from some degree of hypomagnesemia, the medical term for low magnesium levels. The recommended daily allowance of magnesium is at least 350 mg a day, but most of us ingest only a fraction of that.
So what are the possible results of low magnesium?
Weakness and Muscle Problems
Magnesium is a necessary electrolyte, and one of the first symptoms of an electrolyte imbalance is fatigue and muscle cramping. People with low magnesium may experience muscle twitching and jerking as well. Since the smooth muscles of the gastrointestinal system are also affected, constipation or diarrhea may occur.
Proper nutrition is a prerequisite for sharp attention and focus. When magnesium levels are mildly low, you may notice difficulty concentrating. Delirium and hallucinations occur with severely low amounts of magnesium.
Abnormal Heart Rhythm
Cardiac rhythm is controlled by a delicate balance of sodium, calcium, and other electrolytes. When any electrolyte level becomes low, this can throw the heart out of its normal rhythm. Low magnesium levels have been linked to atrial fibrillation, an abnormal rhythm that increases the risk of stroke and sudden cardiac death.
Since it’s apparent that sufficient magnesium is critical to overall health, what are some common causes of hypomagnesemia, other than a poor diet?
Dehydration from Vomiting and Diarrhea
If you’re suffering from prolonged or severe vomiting or diarrhea, you’re not just losing water – you’re also losing electrolytes, including magnesium. People who’ve had several days of a simple stomach bug can find themselves in trouble if they aren’t rehydrating properly. Whatever the cause of your vomiting or diarrhea, it’s important to not only replace the water you’ve lost, but the electrolytes as well. Sports or workout drinks are a great way to do this. Of course, if you’re having trouble keeping anything down, it’s time to seek medical attention and get IV electrolytes at either an urgent care or emergency room.
Long-term Use of Some Medicines
Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), like omeprazole, have provided relief from heartburn and reflux for millions. Unfortunately, one side effect of these drugs can be low magnesium. Since these medications are usually taken indefinitely, the problem can compound over time.
The prescription medications most often responsible for low magnesium are diuretics, or water pills – drugs that increase urine production. Since diuretics cause you to pee more, they also cause electrolyte loss and possible hypomagnesemia.
What can you do to ensure you’re getting enough magnesium? For most people, eating a balanced diet, preventing dehydration, and taking a multivitamin will be enough. If you want a surefire way to top off your magnesium levels, though, try a Myers IV cocktail. This mixture directly provides you with not only magnesium, but other critical vitamins and minerals. It’s an excellent way to get a safe energy boost and maintain your health. At Vita Heaven Urgent Care, we administer hundreds of Myer’s Cocktails each month. If you are in Las Vegas and not feeling 100% or have had a stomach bug while on vacation, give us a call and we will get you feeling better.