Chronic Fatigue Syndrome And Magnesium Deficiency

Is a mineral deficiency the root cause of your constant exhaustion? Can boosting your magnesium levels boost your energy and change your life? The following case study discusses some simple changes – followed by some powerful results.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is often referred to as a “diagnosis of exclusion” in that when other common causes of fatigue are not to blame, this diagnosis is reached1. There are, however, many different causes of chronic fatigue that can be more obscure (1).

Key Insight: It is important to explore the many possible areas that may be causing your fatigue including the common and the not so common2.

A recent case that comes to mind dealing with CFS is a patient that I will refer to as Greg. Greg is a 43 yo male who came to the clinic with the main concern of persistent exhaustion that had not been improving given many diagnoses and therapies. Greg also suffered from:

  • Significant muscle spasms
  • Cramping
  • Headaches (which were worsening)
  • Difficulty sleeping (due to restlessness)

He had been evaluated for many concerns and was at the time being treated for low testosterone and hypothyroidism. All current efforts had not improved his energy and therefore he was labeled with CFS.

Bottom Line: We continued to optimize his hormonal levels, dialing in his current therapy, and also decided to complete some additional blood tests to assess for mineral status.

Testing For Mineral Status

RBC Elements Testing3

Red Blood Cell (RBC) Elements Testing is used to assess the status of essential elements in the body, such as:

  • Magnesium
  • Copper
  • Zinc

Deficiencies or excesses of these essential elements affect numerous metabolic processes, as these minerals have important intracellular functions. If you are curious about mineral status, consider completing this test to evaluate your status.

Harkening back to our early case of Greg. After testing, he was found to be deficient in magnesium. From there, we discussed how this may be contributing to his concerns.

Magnesium Deficiency

Magnesium deficiency is becoming more and more prevalent in America and globally. One study by the National Institute of Health revealed 68% of Americans are magnesium deficient and other more recent studies suggest around 80% are deficient4.

In addition, data from the 1999-2000 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey suggest that significant numbers of adults in the U.S. don’t intake even the minimal amounts of magnesium recommended5.

Magnesium is a cofactor in over 300 body processes, one of which is energy production and is therefore considered a critical player in our overall health.

Bottom Line: Magnesium also supports cardiovascular health, gastrointestinal regularity, immune function, tension relief, and plays a role in lowering inflammation.

Symptoms Of Magnesium Deficiency

How do you know if you are potentially dealing with a magnesium deficiency? Some of the most common symptoms include:

  • Muscle twitches and cramps
  • Muscle weakness or increased soreness
  • Gastrointestinal irregularity
  • Mood instability including irritability and anxiousness
  • Bone density concerns including osteopenia and osteoporosis
  • High blood pressure
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Insomnia
  • Fatigue

Other contributing conditions

There are other conditions that may be to blame for symptoms relating to low-magnesium status and are therefore important to investigate. These conditions include but are not limited to:

  • Hyper or hypothyroidism
  • Autoimmune disease
  • Gastrointestinal diseases (including Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis)
  • Kidney disease
  • Diabetes
  • Cardiovascular disease

Why You Might Be Low In Magnesium

In many cases, supporting magnesium levels alone may not resolve all concerns. Magnesium is a critical mineral to our health, and a deficiency in it can lead to serious concerns.

It is therefore crucial that you meet with your healthcare practitioner to discuss the potential root cause of this problem (2).

Some common magnesium deficiency causes may include:

  • Stress
  • Gastrointestinal dysfunction
  • Medications (including antibiotics and some reflux medications, like proton pump inhibitors)
  • Caffeine
  • Alcohol
  • Lower vitamin D
  • Poor diet

Greg was referred to Integrative Health by a close friend who also had a history of hormonal imbalance and fatigue. He was an avid cyclist who wanted to address his symptoms to hopefully improve his performance and allow him to continue competing in the sport that he loved.

We discussed his testing results, including low magnesium levels, as well as how recent studies show that patients treated with magnesium claim improved energy levels, better emotional state, and less pain.

What Can You Do To Support Your Magnesium Levels?

Oral magnesium

We decided to introduce oral Magnesium supplementation in the form of di-magnesium malate 300mg capsules (typical dosing ranges from 100 – 300 mg daily) and electrolyte power.

Nutrient IV magnesium

We also added in nutrient IVs containing magnesium to assure adequate absorption because Greg was so depleted. He completed a series of 6 IVs over the course of 3 weeks.

Cut the coffee

Coffee strips your body of key vitamins including B vitamins, which are your natural source of energy. It also causes dumps of other key nutrients, including: calcium, magnesium, potassium, and iron. When you drink coffee, your intestinal absorption of magnesium decreases. That is why Greg introduced a coffee substitute to replace his typical cup of joe in the morning.

Epsom salt baths

On the nights after he had long rides, Greg would soak in Epsom salt which provided muscle tension relief and relaxation before bed. Additional research is needed to better understand if soaking in Epsom salt leads to any meaningful magnesium absorption through the skin, as well as the health effects of any noted absorption, though many discuss how this can provide symptomatic relief.

Dietary magnesium

Greg did not consume much if any legumes or greens in his diet and therefore he was especially at risk for low magnesium. We increased his intake of legumes, nuts, seeds and greens especially focusing on the best sources which include:

  • Adzuki beans
  • Pumpkin Seeds
  • Spinach

The Results

In the first week, Greg’s muscle spasm, cramping and weakness resolved and he felt “stronger.” Over the course of the next 6 weeks, Greg noticed his energy “exponentially improve.”

Ultimately, he was feeling “more motivated, energized and pain-free than he had in years.” Greg was thrilled that with the small change of one mineral status, his life could be transformed.

Resolving Your Magnesium Levels

If you have unexplained fatigue, I encourage you to keep searching. It is so important that you find a doctor that will join you in investigating your main contributors to fatigue. The IH team is dedicated to helping you along the way (3).

Here’s to knowledge along your journey to wellness.

Dr. Lauren Beardsley is an Associate Physician with Integrative Health, specializing in Thyroid, Adrenal and Male/Female Hormone imbalance. Learn more about Dr. Beardsley here.

This article was republished from

See also:
Herbal Allies For Fibromyalgia
Alternative Medical Treatments for Chronic Pain

1 PubMed Lancet. 1991 Sep 7;338(8767):641. Magnesium and chronic fatigue syndrome. Deulofeu R, Gascon J, Giménez N, Corachan M.
2 Medscape Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) Differential Diagnoses Updated: May 19, 2017 Author: Burke A Cunha, MD; Chief Editor: Michael Stuart Bronze, MD
3 PubMed Lancet. 1991 Mar 30;337(8744):757-60. Red blood cell magnesium and chronic fatigue syndrome. Cox IM1, Campbell MJ, Dowson D.
4 Jaffe R MD. “How to Know if You are Magnesium Deficient: 75% of Americans Are” (transcript), 06/16/05,
5 “Dietary Magnesium and C-reactive Protein Levels,” Journal of the American College of Nutrition, Vol. 24, No. 3, 166-171 (2005).