Low Carb/Keto Diet = Electrolyte Imbalance (Magnesium)

Hi Everyone,

Looking for some advice: Been very sick for the past 3 weeks with the following symptoms: heart palpitations, muscle cramps, dizziness, intense nausea and anxiety. All my blood tests multiple times and EKG came back within normal ranges. 

Long story short: Been following a low carb diet mixed with Keto level carb dieting all fall only to really fall extremely ill about 3 weeks ago. The nausea and anxiety got so bad it was almost impossible to sleep or eat. As a last resort, I bought some Magnesium supplements (since all my other electrolytes can be properly tested with a standard blood test) and have been taking it, along with eating all the food I can find that it high in Magnesium. After several days the nausea and anxiety and most of the other symptoms seemed to dissipate or even disappear. 

My Self-Diagnosis Opinion: I think I've found the missing link to my illness as my health has been improving since I'm supplementing my Magnesium with supplements and food. I feel that my Candida, which was tied to my "leaky gut" (which reduced the absorption of my nutrients) combined with my low carb diet (healthy foods but low in magnesium) provided the opportunity for an electrolyte imbalance. (magnesium for me)

Has anyone ever had this issue? Does anyone have any advice? Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks in advance,



Original Post

I highly recommend magnesium. Especially the bisglycinate form without the citrate or other magnesium forms mixed in (which are laxative). What you describe does sound very similar to a magnesium deficiency so I'm glad it's helping you!

The other mineral important to the keto diet is sodium. Some research on this aspect of the keto diet needs would likely be helpful.

Take good care and keep up the great work Kevin. Let me know how your'e doing!


How is the keto diet going for you? Could some of what you were experiencing be related to what they call keto flu? This is the discomfort that many people feel when they are adjusting to a low carbohydrate diet and the body is trying to become 'fat adapted', (in other words), the body is learning how to use fat as a fuel. Nausea, fatigue, irritability, extreme weakness are some of the symptoms.

These experiences can be quite profound which is why the diet is sometimes supervised by physicians. It is so potent it is essentially a medical treatment.

Take good care,


Hi Tarilee, (to start, let me preference and apologize for the long post)

So very much appreciate your replies. It’s so hard to find anyone to talk to about this since all my regular blood tests are coming back normal. Every doctor, internist, and cardiologist I've seen has no clue. The thing is, I only did 3 weeks of Keto way back this past August and felt so bad  then I stopped it. (for me it 'seemed' like a very natural progression from my low cab Candida living) I now know I depleted enough of my electrolytes in those three weeks to create an imbalance that created a cascading effect which brings me here today.

That said, I spent all fall ( Sept, Oct, Nov, Dec) drinking an electrolyte elixir comprised of coconut water( no sugar but high Magnesium), sea salt, and a small amount of magnesium supplement and still eating very healthy (Candida friendly) along with exercising frequently but now realize my diet was low in Magnesium rich foods like pumpkin seeds, almonds, kale and spinach. It mainly consisted of chicken, tofu, rice, and different types of oatmeal. (there was more but it was low in magnesium)

All fall, I was  functioning,  other than daily heart palpitations ( I made a post back in Oct. I think inquiring) until finally I crashed just before Xmas. Uncontrollable heart palpitations, massive fatigue, intense nausea, dizziness, painful muscle cramps, shaking, and out-of-body anxiety; anxiety like I’ve never known before. Freaked out I instantly stopped my supplementation thinking I was taking it far too long and in too high a dosage thinking this was the root cause. Boy was I wrong. It got worse.I mean worse. After weeks of trips to the ER, seeing my GP, other doctors, internists, blood tests nobody could give me any answers. They all looked at me and said it must be psychosomatic so 'be prepared to take beta blockers if you want the palpitations to go away. 

So, about one week ago, laying on my bed, shaking uncontrollably, unable to think, talk, or eat as the intense nausea, painful muscle cramps, dizziness, and heart palpitations took me to a place I will never want to be again, I had a thought to take some of my magnesium supplement. I made my way down to the kitchen, opened the bottle of Magnesium Bisglycinate and poured 10 ml into a measuring cup it came with and swallowed. Within 3 mins my world changed! My hands and feet started to warm up. My anxiety disappeared. My intense nausea subsided. This was a miracle with which then I had my answer - I've got a severe magnesium deficiency. 

So here is where I am now:

I am realizing that I have to take a Magnesium supplement (I'm currently taking a Magnesium Bisglycinate) gradually throughout the entire day in small doses (5-10 ml every 3-5 hrs) with food so I can absorb it best. (still playing around with the dosage but realizing most say if you go over the 420ml you might have diarrhea) I know now that I have to eat, as much magnesium rich foods that are also Candida friendly as I can, in small amounts frequently throughout the day including some form of protein with each and every meal. I have to drink lots of water. If I follow this and repeat every day, it helps. If I don't and go without either the supplement or food for long periods of time it gets bad.

Here is what I think happened:

I feel for many years I've been Magnesium deficient mainly because of my Candida issues which was linked to my leaky gut issues. I believe the Keto diet in August for 3 weeks was a catalyst that created a cascading effect that brought my Magnesium down to a level that was very low. Making matters worse (again my diet was still very healthy and Candida friendly) but LOW in Magnesium. Add in a busy life, stress, lots of exercise and leaky gut (which probably reduced the absorption of many of the nutrients needed to help the Magnesium deficiency) and you get a recipe for disaster. Maybe?

Good News:

I've found a really good holistic health practitioner in traditional naturopathy that has been very helpful. She has a 'biofeedback' type of system that detects via electrical impulses deficiencies in the body including Magnesium. She tried it with me and it did show a very low Magnesium level (even before I told her my issues). 

Here is where I think I need to be:

I feel the root cause may have come down to a leaky gut which reduced the absorption of my nutrients. (maybe) So, I'm working towards eating foods and taking supplements to assist this process. I'm also working towards eating more magnesium-rich foods to help supplement this deficiency so that I won't have to rely on taking a Mg supplement every 3-5 hrs. After much research it looks as if Magnesium deficiency may affect the adrenals causing fatigue as well so I'm looking into ways to help strengthen that as well (an adrenal ****tail consisting of orange juice, cream of tartar, and sea salt). I am also looking to consult with a dietitian to customized my eating plan so as to maximize my nutrient density to offset my magnesium deficiency. Do you offer consultation? 

Conclusion: As of now, if I take my Mg at the right times and in the right doses my only symptoms are issues with slow digestion, slight nausea, and much less intense but still daily heart palpitations.   

Leaky Gut Issues: Currently taking probiotics, bone broth, eating probiotic rich foods including lots of greens and shots of fermented Kombucha. Thinking about getting some digestive enzymes. Any suggesitons?

Magnesium Deficiency Issue: Currently taking approx. 400-600ml per day (10-15 ml every 3-5 hrs) of a liquid Magnesium Bisglycinate supplement. Trying to eat foods rich in magnesium. Any suggestions?



Final Questions:

1. What are your thoughts on my situation? 

2. Do you have any further recommendations as to supplementation or nutrition? (do you offer person consultation?)

3. Could leaky gut be a major player in my situation? Should I make this part of my focus at all?

4. Even though all blood tests came back normal including the standard Magnesium one, do you think I need to get a Magnesium RBC Test? Based on my research this type of test is really one of the only ways to get an accurate measure of the Magnesium levels since most of it is in your bones, soft tissue and red blood cells?

Thanks again for taking the time to read this long post and for any ideas, suggestions, or thoughts.

All the best,


Dear Kevin,

My goodness that sounds like a frightening situation and so complex to try to get a handle on. I'm so sorry you've been through this and so glad that you're coming out the other side.

Not being medically trained I'm limited in what I can comment on. However, if you have more accurate magnesiums tests available then yes, it sounds like a reasonable avenue to explore. I'm glad you have an ND on board as they have extensive training on the more complex issues like this.

Having said I can't comment, I can tell you that I had a radical reaction to a loss of mineral balance due to some chelation injections years ago. I believe it was a rapid loss of calcium and it was scarey. I wonder if there is anything in your life or work/home environment that could have changed your balance further?

I would ask your ND about the maximum dosage of pure bisglycinate and I think that is your best bet. I would also solicit their help in continued investigations like the test you mention. I'd appreciate knowing how you make out. Can you keep me posted?

Thanks Kevin and take really good care. May this continue to ease up.


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