Can magnesium cause muscle twitches or spasms?

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Can magnesium cause muscle twitches or spasms?

Hands up if you started supplementing with magnesium because you had muscle spasms, cramps, or face twitches… I’m imagining a room full of hands because so many people take magnesium for exactly this reason!

If you search online for natural remedies of muscle cramps then you’ll undoubtedly be recommended magnesium. First off, this is great advice as almost one in two of us are estimated to be deficient in magnesium. What’s more magnesium is involved in over 300 enzymatic processes, which means we wouldn’t last long without it!

However, what if you are one of the few people who started taking magnesium supplements and either straight away, or after some time, began experiencing worse symptoms! It begs the question, can magnesium cause muscle cramps, spasms, or face twitches? Let’s find out.


What is magnesium doing to our muscles

The vast majority of our magnesium is stored in our bones and organs, whilst one of its primary functions is to maintain good nerve and muscle health. It’s because of this effect magnesium has on the nerve system that allows our muscles to stop contracting and relax. This mechanism assists in reducing spasms, cramps, and twitches.

What’s more, the relaxing effect magnesium has isn’t just limited to our muscles, it also seems to spread to our mental wellbeing too. With many reports of reduced anxiety or stress response when magnesium levels are kept optimal. In addition to reducing muscle cramps or spasms magnesium also promotes a more calm and relaxed sleep, reducing the occurence of insomnia.

How does magnesium relax us

It turns out magnesium has a powerfully relaxing effect on the body and mind, but how does it achieve this? Whilst optimal magnesium directly assists in the function of our nervous system, it also relaxes us in another way.

In comes Mineral Balancing.

If you’re not already aware of the site your reading, this is – A site originally created to explain this very action.

Without getting into the finer details just know this. When we supplement with an individual mineral such as magnesium you may think this would only effect our magnesium levels. Actually, that’s not the case.

When we supplement with any one mineral it doesn’t just raise this mineral in our body, it can also enhance or reduce absorbtion of at least one other mineral. Does that make sense? Okay, let me explain.

Magnesium has an antagonistic effect on sodium and to a lesser extent potassium and calcium. What does this mean? Studies show that increased magnesium levels actually reduces the absorbtion of sodium in the gut. This is great news for people suffering with hypertension (high blood pressure), as excess sodium in the body is known to raise blood pressure.

Many of the relaxing benefits of magnesium supplementation can actually be traced back to a simple reduction in blood pressure.

According to the World Health Organisation as much as 700 million people worldwide suffer from Hypertension.


Magnesium reduces sodium absorption

Numerous studies have shown that Magnesium levels in the body are closely linked with sodium, potassium & calcium metabolism; which are largely regulated by the kidneys.

Studies have shown- Too little magnesium stimulates sodium absorption in the intestines, too much decreases it.

This means people suffering from low magnesium levels will absorb more salt than their peers. Whilst those with high levels of magnesium in the body will have decreased absorption of sodium in the gut.

You may be thinking, these seem like positive side-effects, who could suffer from this mechanism?

Sodium deficiency or magnesium deficiency?

In comes a situation that I’m positive many people I speak to are suffering from. Sodium deficiency and magnesium deficiency share many of the same symptoms.

This means it’s very easy to mistake one deficiency for the other and in most of these cases people assume they’re lacking magnesium. Indeed identifying the correct deficiencies isn’t always easy, so let’s take a look at some common symptoms of both magnesium and sodium deficiency.

Magnesium Deficiency Symptoms

  • Headaches
  • Irritability
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Muscle Cramps
  • Muscle pain & weakness
  • Muscle contractions, twitches or spasms
  •  Abnormal heart beat
  • Increased urination frequency

Sodium Deficiency Symptoms

  •  Headaches
  • Irritability
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Muscle cramps
  • Muscle spasms
  • Muscle pain & weakness
  • Osteoporosis
  • Short term memory loss
  • Increased urination frequency

Do any of these symptoms sound familiar? How sure would you be that your suffering from one deficiency or another?

Let’s imagine for a second you have begin to experience muscle cramps on a more frequent basis. You decide to take charge of your health and do some searching online for remedies. A light bulb moment, aha, magnesium deficiency can lead to increased muscle cramping. That’s what I have, I’ll begin to take a quality magnesium supplement.

When first taking magnesium you may initially rid yourself of the symptom at hand. Due to magnesiums powerful relaxing effect on our muscles it may temporarily relieve the cramping. Success.

As the days go by the soothing effect you once experienced from magnesium supplementation begins to diminish. “Huh, what gives?” you think. “Oh I’m building a tolerance to the magnesium” you say to yourself. “That can easily be remedied by taking more magnesium”… and that’s what you do. But alas, the muscle cramping doesn’t go away, in-fact it actually begins to get worse!

This is where so many people I speak to end up. What once worked, no longer works, and in many cases is now making them even worse off! This is a simple case of not knowing that magnesium can also displace other essential minerals.

Muscle cramps, muscle spasms, and muscle pain can all be attributed to either magnesium or sodium deficiency. Now because, as we’ve established, magnesium actually reduces sodium absorbtion in the gut, you’re not only missing the problem, you’re exacerbating it!

In this case magnesium absolutely can cause muscle cramps and spasms.

How do I determine what deficiency I have?

Okay, so you’ve established you may have a defiency in a particular mineral. How, without testing, do we find out which deficiency we have at home?

This is my quick guide to determining if you have a sodium or magnesium deficiency.

Ask yourself the following:

  1. Do you need to urinate more frequently after supplementing with magnesium?
  2. Has your anxiety increased after magnesium supplementation?
  3. Has your heart rate changed for the worse after taking magnesium?
  4. Have you noticed yourself less resistant to cold weather, especially cold hands or feet?
  5. Do you have a stuffy or blocked nose?

If you answered to 2 or more of these questions, then magnesium is causing your symptoms, not remedying them. These are all tell-tale signs that your magnesium supplementation is decreasing your sodium levels and in turn you are suffering from sodium deficiency symptoms.

The 'healthy diet' paradox

Why does this happen to so many people?

When we decide to get healthy we change our diets considerably. This may mean increasing healthy foods, reducing salty foods, adding magnesium supplements to our routine, or changing our regimine altogether.

However the most common single thing we do when ‘getting healthy’ is increase water intake. After all, we hear everywhere that more water is better, right? We could be exercising more and require additional fluids, or have taken a break from caffeinated beverages which leads us to find a healthy drink alternative.

Why could this cause a problem? When we supplement magnesium it displaces our sodium levels. Sodium is responsible in part for maintaining fluid levels in the body. When sodium levels drop we are unable to retain fluids and ultimately urinate more often and in bigger quantities.

Each time we urinate we also excrete some sodium!

See where this is going?

We attempt to be healthy by doing the following:

  1. We attempt to be more healthy by increasing our water intake.
  2. We attempt to be healthy by reducing our salt intake
  3. We begin to take magnesium supplement to rememdy our problems.

These are three simple steps to directly or indirectly reduce your sodium levels. Plus whatever small amounts of salt we are ingesting isn’t being absorbed correctly in the gut because of our increased magnesium intake. 

How do I balance my magnesium and sodium?

Okay, so you’ve figured out you may be displacing your sodium. What can you do about it?

Very simply, you need to increase your sodium intake. How do we do this? We add salt to food until it tastes appropriate. We don’t need massively excessive amounts of salt but we do need to increase it.

With the exception of people already suffering from hypertension, anybody who supplements magnesium will reduce their sodium levels. That’s just how it is.

It’s up to you to determine if you have a low intake or adequete level of salt in your diet.

One last point, if you’re still using that store-bought white table salt, throw it away right now! Table salt has been bleached white, heated to a point where all trace minerals dissapear, and has calcium silicate added to avoid clumping. This produces a slightly sharper taste than other natural salts. Whilst officially recognised as safe, it was only in the 1972 that manufactures stopped mixing asbestos with calcium silicate.

Going forward I encourage anybody using salt regularly to switch to either Himalayan salt, Celtic sea salt, or Kosher salt.

My preferred salt is Remond Real Salt. Real Salt is the only pink sea salt mined in America and has been since 1958. It comes from an ancient seabed deep beneath Central Utah that has been protected from pollutants for millions of years.

Unlike other sea salts, Real Salt is never heat processed, never stripped of its natural components, and contains no additives.

The only magnesium I now use is transdermal magnesium oil. By completely bypassing our digestive tract, it doesn’t reduce our sodium levels so dramatically. This makes it much easier to balance our minerals whilst maintaining an appropriate magnesium level.

“Did you know that bad body odor is also attributed to a lack of magnesium? Many people report a massive improvement in their body smell after supplementing with the correct magnesium (myself included).To discover if you are suffering from magnesium deficiency symptoms visit our mineral balancing guide



Having too low magnesium, or too low sodium in our body creates similar symptoms. These include nausea, weakenss, and muscle cramps, amongst others.

When we take magnesium we lower our sodium absorption.

Often we’ll take magnesium to reduce cramps but the problem persists, or actually gets worse. This is a likely a sign of sodium deficiency. Or in some rare cases a calcium or potassium defiency, which we’ll get into on a seperate post.

Ways to fix: Monitor sodium intake. As magnesium levels are increased through supplementation we need to increase our sodium levels. That’s it.

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