Do You Have Low Magnesium Symptoms?

Magnesium is a mineral your body needs to regulate important body functions. Magnesium deficiency is rare, but sometime supplements are needed.

low magnesium symptoms

Magnesium is necessary for more than 300 biochemical reactions in the body, from helping with muscle relaxation and nerve conduction to steadying your heart rhythm, supporting your immune system, and keeping your bones strong.

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Magnesium is an important mineral and nutrient. Your body uses magnesium to regulate functions of your muscles, nerves, blood sugar, and blood pressure. Magnesium is also important for the building bone tissue and proteins. [1]

Magnesium is found in many foods and is added to some breakfast cereal. It is also included in most multivitamins. The recommended daily amount of magnesium depends on your age and sex. For an adult male it is 400 to 420 milligrams (mg) per day, for a woman 310 to 320 mg.

How Common is Low Magnesium?

Low magnesium – magnesium deficiency – is not common. Although many people get less than the recommended amount of magnesium from their diets, the body avoids low levels by decreasing loss of magnesium in the urine and increasing absorption of magnesium from the intestine. The body also stores magnesium in tissue and bones, so low levels can be prevented by using stored magnesium. [2]

Magnesium deficiency can occur if intake of magnesium is low for a long time. Elderly people are at higher risk because they do not absorb magnesium from the diet as well as younger people. Conditions that decrease absorption of magnesium and may lead to deficiency include:

  • Crohn’s disease
  • Celiac disease
  • Long term use of antacids, called proton pump inhibitors
  • Alcohol abuse
  • Some water pills (diuretics)
  • Long-term diarrhea [1-3]

Low Magnesium Symptoms and Treatment

Low magnesium may be suspected by the signs and symptoms it causes. Magnesium deficiency is confirmed by a blood test to check magnesium level in the blood. [3] The earliest symptoms of magnesium deficiency are:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Weakness [1]

Severe magnesium deficiency can cause tingling and numbness, muscle cramps, seizures, palpitations, and personality changes. [1] If your health care provider diagnoses magnesium deficiency, the usual treatment is taking a magnesium supplement by mouth. If magnesium can’t be taken orally or absorbed, it may be given as an intramuscular or intravenous injection. [3]

Should You Take Magnesium Supplements?

Because magnesium is present in many foods, it is better to get magnesium from your diet than from a supplement. Magnesium supplements can cause side effects and the dose of supplement at which side effects start is close to the recommended daily dose. Side effects can start at supplement doses of 350 mg per day. The best advice is not to take a magnesium supplement unless your health care provider prescribes it for you. Side effects of too much magnesium include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Cramps
  • Irregular heartbeat [1,2]

Benefits from Higher Levels of Magnesium

There have been some studies linking low levels of magnesium to several medical conditions, but few studies have found that adding magnesium consistently improves these conditions. These conditions include osteoporosis, depression, anxiety, high blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes. More research is needed before magnesium supplements can be recommended for treatment of these conditions. [1,2]

Low levels of magnesium have been linked to more frequent migraine headaches. Giving magnesium in doses of 4 to 600 mg may reduce or relieve migraines. However, these high doses may lead to side effects, so they should only be prescribed by a health care provider. Finally, although many people try a magnesium supplement to reduce leg or foot cramps, a review of studies has not found that magnesium supplements help. [2]

How to Get Magnesium From Your Diet

If you have symptoms of low magnesium, especially if you have risk factors for low magnesium, talk to your health care provider. Otherwise, you can get the recommended amount of magnesium from these healthy foods:

  • Legumes
  • Nuts and Seeds
  • Leafy green vegetables
  • Whole grains
  • Milk and dairy foods
  • Yogurt
  • Fish, beef, and poultry
  • Mango, raisins, and bananas
  • Fortified cereals [1,2]



  1. NIH, Magnesium – Health Professional Fact Sheet (
  2. Harvard School of Public Health, Magnesium | The Nutrition Source | Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
  3. Merck Manual, Hypomagnesemia (Low Level of Magnesium in the Blood) – Hormonal and Metabolic Disorders – Merck Manuals Consumer Version

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Chris Iliades, MD

Chris Iliades has an MD degree and 15 years of experience as a freelance writer. Based in Boothbay Harbor, Maine, his byline has appeared regularly on many health and medicine … Read More

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  • Last year, I came down with Polymyalgia rheumatica. This was a very painful experience – it started in my left shoulder, and I was initially diagnosed with possible Bursitis – they gave me a shot in the shoulder (which seemed to have no effect), and sent me to physical therapy, where they told me I was close to having a “frozen shoulder”. They immediately put me on a therapy course, which did help (it was very difficult at first, but I very religiously stuck to the course, and made progress). After a couple of weeks, the pain also started in my right shoulder, and in the back of my legs. At this point, it was obvious that it couldn’t be Bursitis, and a physician diagnosed it as Polymyalgia, and he prescribed steroids for the pain. After reading and hearing about the side effects of steroids, I decided to rely strictly on Ibuprofen and physical therapy. After a few weeks, things were improving somewhat and the pain was tolerable. Then, a friend of mine whose son is a physician’s assistant, suggested a magnesium supplement. I started taking a magnesium/calcium/zinc supplement, and within a few days saw a huge improvement. I am now completely back to normal and can use my shoulders just as before. I am a huge believer now. I recalled that just before my initial experience, I had been out mountain biking and had been sweating profusely (I sweat a lot anyway). I now think that I depleted my minerals to a “tipping point” that caused the problem. I now take care to drink plenty of water with electrolytes in it. Thanks for the very informative article!

  • I have a lot of symptoms of magnesium deficiency however when I changed my calcium supplement to one that included magnesium, I got diarrhea more often than usual. Is this normal? I’ve suffered from ibs for years and in the past 3 months have had acute diverticulitis 3 times and have been scheduled for surgery of my sigmoid colon next month. I’ve also suffered from anorexia and bulimia for 35 years on and off. Since I have to be careful at least right now about maintaining a low fiber diet (with very few vegetables) and have been advised to drink 3 high protein Ensure/Boost drinks to build muscle weight, to handle the surgery, what do you recommend for post op surgery diet to improve my nutrition and stabilize my ibs? I am under several doctors and a dietician’s cate but am curious about additional information. I’m 51, 5’2” & up to 105 lbs now. I was 115 lbs in August and had dropped to 100 lbs by the end of September due to abdominal pain.

  • can supplement with dr teals Epsom salts and oils. 3 , 20 min. soaks a week and oil daily. body absorbs what it needs. I also take 1/8 building up to 1/4teaspoon Natures calm daily. a powdered mag supplement

  • I been suffering for several years with stomach and intestine problems. Almost every day and worse so at night. My stomach and throat cramps up so bad, that it literally shuts of my airways. Almost everything I eat upsets my stomach, worse so with dairy and foods that are greasy. I been told that I have deficiency of B12 and D3 Vitamin. I am sick and tired waking up every night as something is choking me to death. Last night my heart was fluttering quit a bit. My left kidney has been feeling pressure and burning sensation. I also have the same sensation under my left chest and in my rib cage area and it is painful when pushed on. Doctor was saying oh it looks like you have muscle pain and try to put my on steroids, what I can not take, it causes me breathing problems. I have headaches almost everyday after I wake up. I feel often fatigue and faint. I have sleeping problems and so many other symptoms. In 2017 I was diagnoses with nodules on the thyroid. I no longer have a Uterus and Ovaries and no gallbladder either. I had 2 hip-replacements already. Several weeks ago I was told I had a UTI and E-coli and was given antibiotic for 7 days. What I took and finished. It helped for a few days and the symptoms came back. There is allot of commotion and noises coming from my stomach and intestines Often when I go to the doctor, they run all kinds of test and often I being told, they can not find anything wrong. I was diagnosed with 3 ulcers in my stomach and inflamed stomach lining, in August of 2018. I feel I am at my wits end. I have no trust in western medicine. All they want to do is one test after the other and prescribe medication that does more harm then good. They only treat the symptoms, but not the problem. I can not afford a holistic doctor for I am on SSI. Most Holistic doctors are to expensive for the poor to afford. And they want all there money upfront. We poor people are damned not getting help by the western doctors and not being able to afford holistic doctors.

  • Cee, do some research on salt (sodium) deficiency. I was salt deficient with gastro problems, cramping, sore muscles. Didn’t show up on labs but I was salt deficient nevertheless.

  • Like you may have been told by your doctor; there is no conventional treatment for this disease, BUT there is a herbal approach that has worked in treating the disease. This MS formula treatment is a modern-day version of this herbal approach that has worked in effectively reversing multiple sclerosis across Africa and China for thousands of years. Read reviews from other patients who used the treatment on our website

  • I had body aches, muscle twitches, calf pain until I started taking Magnesium Citrate. OMG, why didn’t my PC tell me about this ? Oh yea, you can’t write out a script for it and make money. Pain is gone.

  • Like you may have been told by your doctor; there is no conventional treatment for this disease, BUT there is a herbal approach that has worked in treating the disease. This PD formula treatment is a modern-day version of this herbal approach that has worked in effectively reversing Parkinsons Disease across Africa and China for Centuries. Read reviews from other patients who used the treatment on our website

  • I am a diabetic patient. I took 40 tablets of Ciprofloxacin antibiotic for UTI. Body started shaking and giving millions of extra bit in the heart. I stopped it taking on 25th sept 2018. Keeping heart rate 75 which is normal, though my resting heart rate was 58, 60. I used take 27+6 unit of levemir insulin and 9+9+9 unit humalog. After 3 months sigar was dropping quickly , I reduced Levemir to 16+2. Still sugar is under control but my hear rate has gone low. It is as low as 48. I used to see irregular bits in my BP machine showing Irregular heart bits with very low hear rate, 35, 49 etc. I started eating Magnesium rich food. Now I do not see irreugar heart bit sign, but heart rate has gone to 47. I eat lot of vegetables. Sugar is under control. But I feel low sugar symptom though sugar is not low. I have leg cramping some time. Please help me

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