Calcification of the Arteries
Though this is not (hopefully) the first symptom of magnesium deficiency, it can be one of the most dangerous.
Calcification of arteries from low magnesium levels can lead to coronary problems like heart attack and heart disease. (4)
In fact, half of all heart attack patients receive injections of magnesium chloride to help stop the blood clotting and calcification.
Muscle Spasms and Cramps
This was my most noticeable symptoms of magnesium deficiency. Just as calcification causes stiffening of the arteries, it can cause stiffening of muscle tissue as well, leading to cramps and spasms.
I had horrible leg cramps during one of my pregnancies. Potassium didn’t help at all, but magnesium fixed the problem almost instantly (which makes sense in light of the sodium:potassium pump).
High Blood Pressure/Hypertension
This is perhaps one of the most well-studied areas of magnesium deficiency. A Harvard study of over 70,000 people found that those with the highest magnesium intake had the healthiest blood pressure numbers.
A follow up meta-analysis of available studies showed a dose-dependent reduction of blood pressure with magnesium supplementation.(5)
A University of Minnesota study showed that the risk for hypertension was 70% lower in women with adequate/high magnesium levels.
I personally saw the effects of low magnesium in my hormone levels. The higher the estrogen or progesterone levels in a woman’s body, the lower the magnesium (pregnancy anyone?)
This is also part of the reason why pregnant women experience more leg cramps and women notice more of these muscular type complaints and PMS in the second half of their cycles when progesterone/estrogen are higher and magnesium is depleted.
Chocolate is a decent source of magnesium, and there is speculation that cravings for chocolate may be a sign of magnesium deficiency.
Muscle cramps related to the menstrual cycle can also be related to magnesium levels. Dr. Carolyn Dean, author of the Magnesium Miracle, often recommends that women with bad PMS and cramps take magnesium early in their cycles before the symptoms begin.