Mental symptoms of magnesium deficiency: the most important questions and answers

Psychische Symptome eines Magnesiummangels: Die wichtigsten Fragen und Antworten

Magnesium deficiency can be very harmful to the body. It can cause circulatory problems as well as cramps. But magnesium deficiency can also cause some psychological problems that can have quite serious consequences.

In our article we want to show and explain the magnesium deficiency and the resulting psychological symptoms. We want to answer the most important questions for you and try to find out the connection between the mental problems and the magnesium deficiency.

the essentials in brief

  • Magnesium deficiency can cause some psychological problems. Low levels of magnesium in the blood make it easier for you to become stressed and more likely to fall into depression.
  • Too little magnesium can also lead to insomnia and mood disorders. These cause even more stress and can even end in burnout.
  • A better diet that contains a lot of magnesium can do a lot to counteract the psychological symptoms. Nevertheless, one should also do more sports and start leading a better lifestyle in order to really get a grip on the mental problems effectively.

Magnesium deficiency and the psychological symptoms: What you should know

Magnesium is an essential nutrient. It is responsible for important metabolic processes, which cannot take place without magnesium. It can therefore be said that magnesium is essential for us to live. However, our body cannot produce magnesium itself. It can only be taken through an adequate amount of food.

One can therefore also assume that too little magnesium can be harmful to our organism. Therefore, a magnesium deficiency can cause some symptoms in our body. Physical as well as psychological symptoms.

How does a magnesium deficiency develop?

Magnesium deficiency can result either from insufficient intake or from a very high loss of magnesium. The body has a mechanism in place to prevent excess magnesium from being lost and also to promote efficient magnesium absorption through the gut. The following are the most common causes of magnesium deficiency:

  • malnutrition
  • alcoholism
  • diarrhea or frequent vomiting
  • High demand due to sport, stress or pregnancy
  • Inflammation of the pancreas

It is said that approximately 20 percent of the world's population suffers from a magnesium deficiency. Young people in particular often suffer from this. Magnesium deficiency is not visible to most people at first. Complaints can only occur if there is a high deficiency. However, you can be examined by a doctor before the symptoms appear in order to determine and prevent the magnesium deficiency beforehand.

What physical problems can be caused by a magnesium deficiency?

The most common symptoms of magnesium deficiency are calf cramps or cramps in general. They occur very quickly with a magnesium deficiency and are quite common.(1) Magnesium deficiency can also cause heart problems. If there is too little magnesium in the organism, then it can lead to metabolic problems and thus also to cardiac arrhythmia.(2)

Dizziness and fatigue are also common symptoms of magnesium deficiency.

The heart problems can also lead to circulatory disorders and headaches.(3.4"> Depending on the age, different symptoms can also occur. Infants often have seizures and older children often suffer from tiredness. Pregnant women also often have a magnesium deficiency. The signs are usually nausea and high blood pressure.(5)

What psychological symptoms can magnesium deficiency cause?

Magnesium deficiency can also have some psychological symptoms that have been scientifically tested and proven. A lack of magnesium is often to blame for depression and mood disorders. It turned out that there was a connection between the subjects' depression and their magnesium levels. Patients with low magnesium levels are more likely to have depression, and increasing magnesium has been shown to improve depression in some patients.(6,7)

woman with headache

Magnesium deficiency is often the cause of headaches and depression. (Image Source: Robin Higgins / pixabay)

Another psychological symptom is rapid irritability. You get annoyed more quickly and have an inner restlessness all the time. Often one is simply more stressed with a magnesium deficiency and therefore also irritated more quickly.(8) A magnesium deficiency is also the reason for the development of burnouts for some people.

Disturbed sleep is also a symptom of magnesium deficiency. You often have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep. In one study, patients with a sleep disorder were treated with magnesium tablets and over time their sleep improved greatly.(9)

What are the reasons for the psychological symptoms caused by magnesium deficiency?

Magnesium has a stress-repellent effect. This has already been found and proven in several studies.(10) Stress is one of the most common reasons for mental illness. A lot of stress makes you more likely to get depression and suffer from insomnia.

Magnesium reduces the release of adrenaline during stress.

The absorption of magnesium dampens the messenger substances that are introduced into the hormone systems by stress. This would normally lead to overactivation of what is known as the pituitary-adrenal axis in the brain, which can contribute to the development of depression and burnout.

When is a magnesium deficiency dangerous for the psyche?

The initial symptoms, such as tiredness or mild upset, should be taken as important clues, but they are not yet dangerous symptoms to worry about. People with type 2 diabetes or pregnant women should see a doctor if they have these symptoms.

sad woman sits on the floor

In the case of depression, one should immediately check whether there is enough magnesium in the blood. This is a common cause of upsets. (Image Source: 1388843 / pixabay)

The situation is different in the case of depression or insomnia. These symptoms continue to damage the body and only make things worse. You should go to the doctor and have your blood tested. Magnesium deficiency is often the cause, but many doctors do not consider this at first. Therefore, you should specifically ask the doctor to do a blood test.

How big should my magnesium requirement be?

In order to prevent a magnesium deficiency, you should first know how high the actual daily magnesium requirement is. The individual daily requirement depends on many factors. On the one hand by age, gender and also by the living conditions (pregnancy).

person magnesium requirement
grown man 350 mg per day
adult woman 300 mg per day
child / adolescent 400 mg per day
Pregnant woman 390 mg per day

The need can of course vary and be different for each individual. If you lose a lot of sweat through competitive sports or through intense heat, the requirement can be higher. Stress can also lead to an increased need.

Which products should you take against a magnesium deficiency?

There are 2 methods to tackle a magnesium deficiency. However, these methods can easily be combined with one another. There are the following 2 procedures:

  • Eliminate magnesium deficiency with a magnesium-rich diet.
  • Eliminate magnesium deficiency with appropriate magnesium supplements.

When it comes to nutrition, you should make sure that you eat foods that are particularly rich in magnesium. The following foods contain a particularly large amount of magnesium and are ideal for treating a magnesium deficiency:

kind Products
nuts and seeds Walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds, sesame
whole grain products Wholemeal bread, rice, wholemeal pasta
legumes Peas, Corn, Beans
Fruit Bananas, kiwis, pineapples
Vegetables Spinach, kohlrabi

When it comes to nutrition, it can also be said that many people very rarely pay attention to them. This can be because they're either too exotic or because they're high in calories. Nevertheless, it would be advisable for everyone to include the above-mentioned products in their daily diet in order to be able to cover their daily magnesium requirements.

The problem for many is that due to the stress of everyday life, they do not invest enough time to eat a balanced diet with lots of vegetables and fruit. This in turn means that less magnesium is absorbed and the body releases even more stress hormones. It can become a vicious circle and it is best to react to it and do something about it as soon as possible.

Is there anything else that can be done about mental symptoms?

Nutrition is one thing, but there is much more that can be done to combat mental health problems. Endurance sports such as running or cycling are particularly helpful. Stress reduction and a healthier attitude towards yourself also helps a lot to prevent mental symptoms.

Woman and man riding bicycles

Physical activity and a healthy attitude also help prevent psychological problems. (Image Source: Karen Warfel / pixabay)

Of course, the intake of magnesium helps. That has also been scientifically proven. However, one should make a good combination between magnesium intake and a healthier lifestyle.

Is an overdose of magnesium also harmful to the psyche?

A healthy person does not have to worry about an overdose of magnesium. If there is an oversupply, the body simply does not absorb the entire amount in the intestine. This can lead to soft stools or diarrhea, but there is no need to worry about an excess of magnesium.

However, people who have kidney disease or other conditions that cause hypermagesiaemia may well overdose. Here the body cannot completely excrete the excess magnesium and the large amount of magnesium remains in the body. On the one hand, it can lead to physical symptoms such as diarrhea, nausea and heart problems, but also to psychological symptoms such as:

  • fatigue
  • perceptual disorder
  • exhaustion

If you have these symptoms, you should see a doctor immediately. Often an excess of magnesium has a very serious effect on the body, which can be fatal.(11)

Does magnesium help against every mental symptom?

Mental illnesses can certainly be improved by increasing the amount of magnesium. However, supplemental magnesium is not the most effective way to treat depression and burnout.

Magnesium can stabilize the nerves, but it does not always improve depression.

Anyone who really has signs of depression and hasn't been feeling well mentally lately should seek psychotherapy. This is the best way to tackle the mental health issues and bring about change. In addition, however, you should have your blood values ​​analyzed to prevent a magnesium deficiency.


Magnesium deficiency can harm not only our body but also our mind. There are many different studies that show that too little magnesium causes stress and can therefore also lead to depression and burnouts.

You should react immediately to the first symptoms and take action. You should have your blood levels checked and eat a magnesium-rich diet. However, one should not rely on the fact that the psychological problems can only be explained by a magnesium deficiency. One should still consult a psychologist in order to best tackle the problems.


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  2. DiNicolantonio JJ, Liu J, O'Keefe JH. Magnesium for the prevention and treatment of cardiovascular disease. open heart 2018;5(2):e000775. Published 2018 Jul 1. doi:10.1136/openhrt-2018-000775
  3. Zhang X, Li Y, Del Gobbo LC, Rosanoff A, Wang J, Zhang W, Song Y. Effects of Magnesium Supplementation on Blood Pressure: A Meta-Analysis of Randomized Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Trials. hypertension. 2016 Aug;68(2):324-33. doi: 10.1161/HYPERTENSIONAHA.116.07664. Epub 2016 Jul 11. PMID: 27402922.
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  7. Rajizadeh A, Mozaffari-Khosravi H, Yassini-Ardakani M, Dehghani A. Effect of magnesium supplementation on depression status in depressed patients with magnesium deficiency: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Nutrition. 2017 Mar;35:56-60. doi: 10.1016/j.nut.2016.10.014. Epub 2016 Nov 9. PMID: 28241991.
  8. Cuciureanu MD, Vink R. Magnesium and stress. In: R Vink, M Nechifor, editors. Magnesium in the Central Nervous System [Internet]. Adelaide (AU): University of Adelaide Press; 2011. Available from:
  9. Cao Y, Zhen S, Taylor AW, Appleton S, Atlantis E, Shi Z. Magnesium Intake and Sleep Disorder Symptoms: Findings from the Jiangsu Nutrition Study of Chinese Adults at Five-Year Follow-Up. nutrients. 2018;10(10):1354. Published 2018 Sep 21. doi:10.3390/nu10101354
  10. Cuciureanu MD, Vink R. Magnesium and stress. In: R Vink, M Nechifor, editors. Magnesium in the Central Nervous System [Internet]. Adelaide (AU): University of Adelaide Press; 2011. PMID: 29920004.
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