Magnesium deficiency (medicine)

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Magnesium deficiency
Classification and external resources

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Magnesium deficiency
Classification and external resources


Magnesium deficiency refers to an intake of dietary magnesium below minimal levels, which can result in numerous symptoms and diseases. These can generally be remedied by an increase of magnesium in diet or oral supplements. However intravenous supplementation is necessary for more severe cases.



Symptoms of magnesium deficiency include: hyperexcitability, dizziness, muscle cramps, muscle weakness and fatigue.[1] Severe magnesium deficiency can cause hypocalcemia, low serum potassium levels (hypokalemia), retention of sodium, low circulating levels of parathyroid hormone (PTH), neurological and muscular symptoms (tremor, muscle spasms, tetany), loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, personality changes [2] and death from heart failure.[3] Magnesium plays an important role in carbohydrate metabolism and its deficiency may worsen insulin resistance, a condition that often precedes diabetes, or may be a consequence of insulin resistance.[4] Deficiency can cause irregular heart beat.


57% of the US population does not meet the US RDA for dietary intake of magnesium.[5] A less than recommended dietary intake does not necessarily imply magnesium deficiency in an individual. The kidneys are very efficient at maintaining body levels, but not in cases where the diet is deficient.[citation needed]


"Magnesium depletion" (ICD10 code E83.4) should be distinguished from hypomagnesemia, since the first refers to a disorder of magnesium metabolism, and is much more difficult to treat. However, in the past, the terms have sometimes been used interchangeably. Magnesium deficiency can be present without hypomagnesemia, and hypomagnesemia can be present without magnesium deficiency.

Causes of magnesium deficiency include alcohol abuse, poorly controlled diabetes, excessive or chronic vomiting and/or diarrhea. Certain drugs can also deplete magnesium levels such as osmotic diuretics, cisplatin, ciclosporin, amphetamines, and possibly proton pump inhibitors[citation needed]. Also deficiency may occur in Bartter syndrome and Gitelman syndrome[citation needed].

For a more detailed discussion on the subject of magnesium metabolism and causes of magnesium deficiency see hypomagnesemia.


Magnesium deficiency can often be effectively treated with an oral magnesium preparation.

Severe hypomagnesemia is often treated medically with intravenous or intramuscular magnesium sulfate solution, which is completely bioavailable, and effective.

Food sources of magnesium

Food sources of magnesium include leafy green vegetables, wheat bran, almonds, cashews and soybeans. [1]


Magnesium deficiency in humans was first described in the medical literature in 1934.

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^ Rude RK, Shils ME. Magnesium. In: Shils ME, Shike M, Ross AC, Caballero B, Cousins RJ, eds. Modern Nutrition in Health and Disease. 10th ed. Baltimore: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2006:223-247
  3. ^ Health and Nutrition Secrets, Russell L. Blaylock, M.D., Health Press, 2006, page 395, ISBN 978-0-929173-48-1
  4. ^ Kobrin SM and Goldfarb S. Magnesium Deficiency. Semin Nephrol 1990;10:525-35.
  5. ^ "Nutrient Intakes Percent of population 2 years old and over with adequate intakes based on average requirement". Community Nutrition Mapping Project. 2009-07-29. Retrieved 2012-02-11.