What Is Magnesium Deficiency?

Magnesium is a mineral in your blood that is necessary to maintain a healthy body. You can find it in different food sources and supplements.

Magnesium is necessary for energy production and bone development. It’s also necessary for muscle and nerve function, blood glucose control, and many other processes.

Magnesium is very important for your body. Having low magnesium levels in your body can prove dangerous. Not getting enough magnesium can lead to magnesium deficiency, or hypomagnesemia.

Magnesium deficiency can have dangerous repercussions across every part of your body. It can also lead to harmful diseases and disorders. To avoid magnesium deficiency, here is everything you need to know.

What Are Some Magnesium Deficiency Causes?

Several different factors can cause magnesium deficiency. Generally, healthy people won’t develop magnesium deficiency from not having enough of it in their diet.

This is because your kidneys limit the magnesium you release through urine. It’s only when this low intake happens often that it can lead to health problems.

There are many reasons you may have low levels of magnesium. Some include:

  • Certain medications can affect your magnesium levels. These include bisphosphonates, antibiotics, diuretics, and proton pump inhibitors.
  • Drinking too much alcohol.
  • Not eating enough magnesium-rich foods.
  • Preexisting health conditions, such as type 2 diabetes, pancreatitis, and gastrointestinal diseases.

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What Are Some Magnesium Deficiency Symptoms?

Symptoms you might experience from magnesium deficiency depend on many factors. Earlier signs of magnesium deficiency can include:

  • Fatigue and weakness.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Nausea.
  • Vomiting.

Your symptoms are likely to worsen over time if left untreated. If your magnesium deficiency worsens, you may experience some of the following symptoms:

  • Abnormal heart rhythms.
  • Coronary spasms.
  • Numbness and tingling.
  • Muscle twitches and cramps.
  • Personality and mood changes, such as depression or irritability.
  • Seizures.

If left untreated, worsening magnesium deficiency can also lead to cardiac arrest or even death.

Magnesium plays an important role in moving calcium and potassium through your body. These minerals all help your nerves, muscles, and heart to function properly.

A serious magnesium deficiency can lower these minerals’ levels in your body. This can lead to the development of conditions such as hypocalcemia (low calcium levels) and hypokalemia (low potassium levels).

Magnesium deficiency can also impact other diseases and disorders. Magnesium deficiency can worsen conditions such as hypertension, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, and migraine headaches. Taking in more magnesium may treat these conditions depending on the situation.

What Are Some Ways to Treat Magnesium Deficiency?

When diagnosed with magnesium deficiency, several treatment options are available. Which you choose depends on how serious the deficiency is as well as what’s causing it.


You may need magnesium supplements, medications, or fluids to improve your magnesium levels. Many multivitamins and dietary supplements contain forms of magnesium that are easy for the body to absorb.

You may also find magnesium in other medications used to treat indigestion. For specific recommendations, talk to your health care provider.

Dietary changes

You can start by focusing on what you eat. A healthy diet that includes sources of magnesium can keep your magnesium levels stable.

You should eat a variety of vegetables and whole grains, both of which are good sources of magnesium. Lean meats, poultry, seafood, beans, and nuts provide magnesium as well.

You can limit food and drinks that contain higher amounts of sugar and sodium. Decreasing the number of alcoholic beverages you consume can also help. If you play sports or do other high-intensity activities, you should drink fluids that contain electrolytes (such as sports drinks). These can help you to maintain healthy magnesium levels.

Can You Have Too Much Magnesium?

It’s difficult to have too much magnesium from your diet alone. Your kidneys limit the loss of magnesium from urine and help get rid of excess amounts of magnesium. Taking too much of a supplement or medicine that provides magnesium, however, can cause nausea, vomiting, and heart and breathing complications.

Although these treatments can help increase magnesium intake, you should contact a health care professional to figure out your best course of action. They’ll often conduct a physical exam as well as blood and urine tests to decide how to improve your magnesium levels.




About UPMC

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