Keto Diet 101: Low Magnesium Symptoms

Low Magnesium Symptoms Shouldn’t be Ignored
Low magnesium symptoms are more dangerous than you think!

  • THIS PROBLEM AFFECTS PATIENTS: 2-4 days after their first ketone is made.
  • THIS PROBLEM LASTS UNTIL: The magnesium level within the blood is restored to normal.

Most of you reading this most likely experience low magnesium. Almost every patient I see suffers from symptoms triggered by low magnesium. Low magnesium is ubiquitous- it’s everywhere. Much like sleep deprivation, everyone should understand what happens to you when magnesium is low.

Magnesium (Mg++), one of your body’s most essential nutrients, activates hundreds of enzymes, stabilizes your cellular structure, and triggers many of your cell proteins to do their job. Magnesium is a required salt. You get it from your food. In turn, your food gets it from the soil. The marked decline in soil-magnesium throughout the world yields plants lacking this super important mineral. As with any food chain, when the lowest link on the chain struggles to access needed minerals, the rest of us higher on the chain suffer too.

Low magnesium symptoms include headaches, dizziness, confusion, mental cloudiness (also called brain fog), nervousness, and tingling in your hands and feet.

When Mg++ falls below the threshold needed for your nerves to correctly send signals, patients most commonly complain about muscle cramping. Truthfully, my patients have had multiple symptoms before their muscles cramped. They did not associate those symptoms to low magnesium. When I discuss muscles cramps, patients usually think of a charlie-horse or a crick in their neck. But other common symptoms of a cramping muscle include a headache in the back of your head, or near your temples. check over here Symptoms can also involve a deep tummy pain due to your bladder or bowel muscles cramping. You might even experience heart arrhythmia or chest pain from the cramping of your heart muscle. All these are common symptoms that can bother people with low magnesium.

The Danger of Dropping Magnesium Levels
Dropping magnesium levels cause your brain processing to slow down and even ‘twitch.’ Twitchy brains wreak havoc with day to day living. The first twitch often goes under appreciated with symptoms of fatigue or slower thinking. Many patients blow this off as a bad moment or a getting older.

Next, the symptoms get worse with increased irritability and mood swings. Before long, the body sends other signals like muscle cramps, headaches, and poor concentration. These symptoms commonly get lumped into the catch-all problems called depression or anxiety. Those terms correctly describe what is going on. The patient is indeed depressed and often anxious. But a prescription antidepressant will not fix your low magnesium.

You have all had moments of low magnesium. Symptoms of low magnesium happen when you get diarrhea. You lose a lot of magnesium all at once through your loose stools. Maybe you ate something that did not agree with you. Perhaps you got an infection that caused diarrhea. The following day your system lacks energy and focus and maybe even charlie-horses that wake you up in the night.

Similarly, as you shift your body chemistry from the Standard American Diet to a Ketosis Diet the swift shift in fluids lowers your magnesium. The first week of ketone production comes with a massive loss of water. Within hours of that drop, patients complain of profound sadness or irritability. They will say the diet makes them crabby or lose focus. That night, a startling jerk in their foot pulls them right out of their slumber. That’s usually when that they consider magnesium as the culprit.

Dr. Boz’s Recommendations for Use When Low Magnesium Symptoms Arise

ANTIDOTE: Naturally the way you make low magnesium symptoms disappear is to restore your magnesium to the normal concentration within the blood. Sounds simple enough, right?

However, adding a hefty dose of magnesium to your gut causes diarrhea. I learned about the power magnesium has on our bowels when I was 18 years old. I took a job in a nursing home assisting the nurses as they cared for the elderly residents. The first day on the job, I walked into the back room where one care-team passed off report on the residents from their shift to the arriving team. Along the back wall hung a ten-food banner that said, “Bribe Them With Their Bowels.”

Confused, and naive, I asked my supervising nurse what the banner meant. She pressed her eyebrows together with a look of judgment and said, “Child, no one that lives here poops without help. These folks will do anything if you tell them it gives them a good dump.”

She walked over to her medicine cart and grabbed 22 small plastic cups and a big jug of Milk Of Magnesia. She poured me a teaspoon full and instructed me to swallow it. Intimidated beyond words, I did as told.

It was vile. She handed me a clipboard and barked out these words, “This is the list of NON-POOPERS. They have no documented bowel movement in 5 days. Come to find me when all of them have swallowed their dose.”

The story taught me the power of how magnesium flushes constipation away. It is always true. In recent years, an over the counter magnesium replacement received rave customer reviews. They bragged that their product was unlike other magnesium supplements. Their product did not cause any side effects of a rumbling tummy or bowel distress.

Months later they made headlines with a class action lawsuit because their product contained ZERO magnesium. If the magnesium supplement you’re taking does not cause your tummy to rumble, it’s probably a scam product.

Telling you to eat high magnesium foods also sounds like good advice at first glance. But this advice falls short, too. Let’s set aside the fact that an inflamed gut can decrease the magnesium absorption by 75%. Across the globe, today’s soil lacks the minimum magnesium needed for healthy plants. Even if the textbooks boast of a high magnesium in certain foods, this cannot be trusted. These foods vary greatly in magnesium content because of the unreliable magnesium in our soil.

I recommend a different option. Use your skin.

Use Your Skin
Yes, that’s right. Use your body’s largest organ to absorb magnesium.

My favorite recommendation is to write the following prescription on a prescription pad and hand this to the patient: Add 6 cups of Magnesium Chloride Salt to hot bath water. Soak for 40 minutes twice weekly. I tell them to tape this to the bathroom door to help protect against interruptions while soaking.

Not only does this help you absorb magnesium, but it also adds some much-needed relaxation time to your schedule. Epsom Salt, Magnesium Sulfate Salt, is also used for soaking magnesium baths.

From my experience, Magnesium Chloride baths deliver more intensive and complete relief from magnesium deficiency symptoms. One of my favorite life-hacks for magnesium replacement is the plastic garbage bin found under my desk. I filled this with water and a full bag of magnesium chloride flakes- about 6 cups in the bag. I “borrowed” one of my dad’s old cow-tank-heaters used to keep the water tank from freezing over in the winter. When I sit down to write, I plug this in and within 10 minutes have a hot foot soak of potent magnesium replacement. I use the water about a dozen times before replacing it. My best writing seems to happen when my blood magnesium is normal.

Other options include magnesium salt-enriched creams or oils. Although not nearly as rewarding as a 40-minute bath, these topical applications do a good job relieving symptoms when applied routinely. Like other medicated creams, you must cover a large amount of skin to get the dose right. Don’t be stingy.

When all else fails, or in times when patients just can’t seem to get their life together, we can infuse magnesium into their veins or give them a shot into their muscles. I offer this only when patients are in a world of desperation. This suppresses low magnesium symptoms for the short term. Finding a solution that works for them is the best option.

Here’s another video that dives into that magnesium discussion:

For more information on the ketogenic diet, check out the book ANYWAY YOU CAN on Amazon or Audible by Annette Bosworth, MD.


  1. Gröber U1, Schmidt J2, Kisters K; Magnesium in Prevention and Therapy; Nutrients. 2015 Sep 23; 7(9):8199-226.doi: 10.3390/nu7095388
  2. Jeroen H. F. de Baaij, Joost G. J. Hoenderop, and René J. M. Bindels; Magnesium in Man: Implications for Health and Disease; Physiological ReviewsVolume 95, Issue 1; 2015 Jan 01;

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