The National Institutes of Health (NIH) identified groups at risk of a magnesium deficiency – diabetics, older adults, those with gastrointestinal diseases and those who drink a fair bit of alcohol. Habitually low intake of magnesium can lead to muscle cramps in the body, such as the legs. The NHS confirmed that cramps can last from a few seconds to 10 minutes, and may cause the affected muscle to be sore afterwards.
Foods rich in magnesium include:
- Pumpkin seeds
- Chia seeds
- Soy milk
- Black beans
- Peanut butter
- Skin of baked potato
- Brown rice
- Kidney beans
- Wholewheat bread
- Chicken breast
How certain health conditions can lead to a magnesium deficiency
Gastrointestinal issues, such as Crohn’s disease – during a flare-up – can lead to chronic diarrhoea and fat malabsorption.
This can lead to magnesium depletion over time, as can an operation to remove the ileum in the small intestine.
Uncontrolled diabetes can lead to increased urination when blood sugar levels are high.
This increase in urination can cause more magnesium to be lost from the body.
The NHS said that a blood test can determine the amount of magnesium in your body.
Low levels of magnesium in the blood means one of three things:
- There’s not enough magnesium in your diet
- Your intestines aren’t absorbing enough magnesium
- The kidneys are excreting too much magnesium
Speaking with your GP will help to determine which factor is the most likely.
From there, steps can be taken to address the magnesium deficiency that will benefit your health.