Magnesium Deficiency and Migraines

Migraines and Muscle Cramps: Are You Magnesium Deficient?

While serious magnesium deficiency is rare, milder magnesium deficiencies can occur when nutrient uptake is impaired by alcohol, soda, refined sugar and caffeine. Mild magnesium deficiency can result in tingling, muscle cramps, numbness and migraine. Read the article to learn more …

An essential nutrient for the body

Magnesium is vitally important for the body as it is essential for a huge number of biochemical reactions, such as those for energy production, protein synthesis, blood glucose control, blood pressure regulation and muscle and nerve function.

Although magnesium is present naturally in many foods, dietary surveys show that intake of magnesium in the modern diet is consistently lower than the recommended amounts. Serious magnesium deficiency is uncommon, however certain health conditions can impair magnesium intake, causing symptoms such loss of appetite, fatigue, vomiting, muscle contractions, cramps, seizures and heart problems. People with type 2 diabetes, alcoholism and gastrointestinal diseases such as Crohn’s disease are at increased risk of magnesium deficiency.

Modern diets block magnesium uptake in the gut

Milder magnesium deficiency due to low dietary intake, or inadequate absorption, is thought to be much more common than originally thought, in the general public1,2. Magnesium is naturally present in many foods, such as spinach, wholewheat and nuts, but some commonly consumed foods block its uptake through the gut.

Vitamin D is required for magnesium uptake. The biggest culprits that interfere with the body’s absorption of vitamin D, and therefore magnesium, are alcohol, fizzy sodas and caffeinated drinks such as tea and coffee. In addition to this, refined sugar causes the excretion of magnesium through the kidneys.

Magnesium Deficiency and Migraine
Excess refined sugar in the diet causes the kidneys to excrete magnesium

Magnesium deficiency symptoms

Due to the requirement of magnesium for muscle and nerve function, mild magnesium deficiency can result in tingling, muscle cramps and numbness. Scientific studies have shown migraine sufferers to be much more likely to be deficient in magnesium3. Magnesium has also been shown to be effective in helping to treat migraine4 and this single mineral is one of the most promising natural methods of combating migraine. Learn more about managing migraines naturally here.

Diets rich in magnesium also decrease the risk of type 2 diabetes5,6. It is thought likely that this reduced risk is related to the importance of magnesium in glucose regulation.

Sources of dietary magnesium

Magnesium-rich foods include almonds, spinach, cashews, peanuts, soy milk, edamame beans, peanut butter, whole wheat bread, brown rice, potatoes and avocados. Good amounts of magnesium can also be found in oats, bananas, salmon and chicken.

Magnesium Deficiency and MIgraine
Whole wheat is a good source of dietary magnesium

Magnesium deficiency summary

Diets low in magnesium can result in muscle and nerve impairment, and migraine headaches. To increase the levels of magnesium in the diet, eat magnesium-rich whole foods and reduce consumption of caffeine, fizzy drinks, refined sugar and alcohol.


Further reading

If you suffer from migraines, learn how to manage your headaches naturally by replacing nutrients such as magnesium in the diet. Food to Fight Migraine: A Complete Dietary Guide is available from The Green Apple Club Shop.





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