6 Factors That Drain Your Body’s Magnesium Reserves and Increase Magnesium Requirements


Magnesium is one of the most abundant minerals in your body and one that plays a part in over 300 metabolic reactions in your body. These include reactions that contribute to the health of your heart, bones, muscle function, nervous system, and blood vessel health. So, to say it’s important is an understatement.

Plus, studies show that consuming enough magnesium may reduce the risk of some health problems, including cardiovascular disease, hypertension, and type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetics are at greater risk of magnesium deficiency than healthy people.

How prevalent is magnesium deficiency? Estimates are that up to 40% of the population doesn’t get enough dietary magnesium for optimal health. Why are so many people falling short in this important mineral? There are at least six factors that enhance the risk of magnesium deficiency. Let’s look at some things that drain the body’s magnesium reserves, so you can sidestep being low in magnesium.

Health Problems That Reduce Magnesium Absorption

If you don’t absorb enough magnesium from your gut, it’s easy to see how you could become deficient. Some inflammatory conditions of the gut, such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, make it harder for the gut to absorb magnesium. If you have one of these conditions, you may be deficient even if you eat magnesium-rich foods. If that’s the case, you may need supplemental magnesium. That’s something to discuss with your physician.

Have you ever had several days of diarrhea? During those unpleasant bouts of loose or watery stools, you lose electrolytes, including sodium, potassium, and chloride. But you also excrete magnesium. Conditions that cause chronic diarrhea can decrease your magnesium level. This is mainly a problem if you have prolonged diarrhea.

Other causes include conditions that produce frequent urination since you lose magnesium through urination too. For example, if you have poorly controlled blood sugar, you urinate more and flush more magnesium down the toilet. Kidney failure can also cause a drop in magnesium.

Eating Ultra-Processed Foods

Ultra-processed and junk foods might be convenient short term, but food processing destroys much of the fiber and nutrients in the food, including magnesium. In fact, refined grains retain only about 16% of their magnesium. You can imagine how detrimental this is to your body’s magnesium stores if you consume these foods daily. When you bite into refined carbohydrates and processed junk, you’re usually eating something high in sugar and sodium and low in fiber and nutrition too. Choose wisely!


Magnesium is vital to many of your body’s functions, which include keeping your heart healthy, muscle contractions, muscle relaxation, energy production, mood, and brain function. There are studies showing that people who suffer from stress have lower magnesium levels in their bodies. The journal of Stress recently published a study showing that stress can decrease magnesium levels in the brain.

With so many people dealing with emotional stress, it’s not surprising that low tissue stores of magnesium are common. Studies also show that higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol, released during times of physical and mental stress, is linked with lower magnesium. Make sure you have effective ways to deal with stress such as meditation, exercise, spending time in nature, and deep breathing to preserve your body’s magnesium status.

Taking Certain Medications

Some medications cause the body to excrete more magnesium into the urine. An example is loop diuretics that doctors prescribe for some heart conditions and high blood pressure. Other medications that lower magnesium include drugs used in cancer chemotherapy, medications used to treat heart failure, corticosteroids, medications used for psychotic disorders, and some asthma medications. Even some antibiotics can lower magnesium. Always ask your physician whether you’re taking prescriptions that could affect your magnesium level.

A common group of medications you can get without a prescription called proton pump inhibitors also lowers tissue magnesium. These medications, available at most drug stores, treat acid reflux, but they also have a variety of side effects, including a risk of magnesium loss.

The Food and Drug Administration points out that you would need to take this medication for a year or longer before magnesium deficiency becomes an issue. It’s a reminder to ask your doctor about whether the medications you take could contribute to nutrient deficiencies.

What You Drink

Consuming large amounts of alcohol can lower the body’s magnesium reserves. Even the water you drink may affect your magnesium status. Hard water contains magnesium while soft water does not. Some nutrition experts recommend drinking hard water to increase your body’s magnesium reserves. Research suggests, however, that you can’t easily absorb magnesium from hard water since it’s inorganic. Therefore, the best way to meet your body’s magnesium needs is to add more magnesium-rich foods to your plate.

Not Consuming Enough Magnesium-Rich Foods

With people eating so many convenience foods, it’s not surprising that many people are low in magnesium. Some of the best sources of magnesium include leafy greens, whole grains, seeds, and nuts. Notice these are all whole foods and that’s where you get the most vitamins and minerals. Imagine the incidence of nutritional deficiency would plummet if people ate whole foods rather than ultra-processed junk?

The Bottom Line

It’s obvious that magnesium deficiency is a problem and that being low in this critical mineral has health consequences. Know your risk factors for deficiency, consume enough magnesium-rich foods, and ask your physician if you could benefit from a magnesium supplement.


  • “Magnesium: The Missing Link in Mental Health ….” 17 Nov. 2016, www.immh.org/article-source/2016/11/17/magnesium-the-missing-link-in-mental-health.
  • org. “Magnesium: The Missing Link in Mental Health?”
  • “Magnesium Uses, Dosage & Side Effects – Drugs.com.” 17 Sept. 2020, drugs.com/magnesium.html.
  • “FDA Drug Safety Communication: Low magnesium levels can be ….” fda.gov/drugs/drug-safety-and-availability/fda-drug-safety-communication-low-magnesium-levels-can-be-associated-long-term-use-proton-pump.
  • gov. “Magnesium Deficiency”
  • DiNicolantonio JJ, O’Keefe JH, Wilson W. Subclinical magnesium deficiency: a principal driver of cardiovascular disease and a public health crisis. Open Heart. 2018;5(1):e000668. doi:10.1136/openhrt-2017-000668
  • ‌”Magnesium – Health Professional Fact Sheet.” ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Magnesium-healthProfessional/.
  • Nielsen FH. Magnesium deficiency and increased inflammation: current perspectives. Journal of Inflammation Research. 2018;Volume 11:25-34. doi:10.2147/jir.s136742

Related Articles By Cathe:

5 Science-Backed Reasons You Need More Magnesium in Your Diet

Science-Backed Benefits of Magnesium for Heart Health and Why You Need It

5 Health Benefits of Magnesium Backed by Science

Can a Magnesium Supplement Help You Sleep Better?

6 Reasons You May Be Magnesium Deficient

Why You Might Be Deficient in Magnesium but Not Know It

How Magnesium Can Impact Your Exercise Performance

4 Supplements That Reduce Insulin Resistance

The Two Most Important Minerals for Heart Health That You’re Not Getting Enough Of

Vitamins, Minerals, & Athletic Performance: Which Micronutrients Are of Greatest Concern?

6 Factors that Increase Your Body’s Need for Magnesium

Why You Need More Dietary Magnesium If You Exercise

4 Reasons to Add More Magnesium to Your Diet

Twelve Important Reasons Why You Need More Magnesium in Your Diet

10 Foods to Boost Your Magnesium Levels

Why Most People Need More Magnesium in Their Diet and How to Get It




Hi, I'm Cathe

I want to help you get in the best shape of your life and stay healthy with my workout videos, DVDs and Free Weekly Newsletter. Here are several ways you can watch and work out to my exercise videos and purchase my fitness products:

Get Your Free Weekly Cathe Friedrich Newsletter

Get free weekly tips on Fitness, Health, Weight Loss and Nutrition delivered directly to your email inbox. Plus get Special Cathe Product Offers and learn about What’s New at Cathe Dot Com.

Enter your email address below to start receiving my free weekly updates. Don’t worry…I guarantee 100% privacy. Your information will not be shared and you can easily unsubscribe whenever you like. Our Privacy Policy