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Magnesium is a mineral needed for healthy muscles, nerves, heart, and bones. While most of the magnesium in the body is stored within cells and bones, this test measures the small portion found in your blood. Magnesium deficiency—called hypomagnesemia—can be caused by malnutrition, excessive alcohol intake, diabetes, chronic diarrhea, or other digestive disorders, such as Crohn’s disease. It can lead to neurological issues, such as migraines, confusion, and depression, and may cause weakness and muscle cramps. In pregnant women, hypomagnesemia is correlated with preeclampsia, leg cramps, and preterm birth¹. Magnesium deficiency also interferes with your ability to use stored vitamin D as magnesium is essential to convert vitamin D to its active form in your body.

You can take a supplement to elevate your magnesium level if you find it is too low. Magnesium is also found in many foods, including leafy green vegetables, bananas, many nuts and seeds, and milk.


  1. Enaruna NO, Ande A, Okpere EE. Clinical significance of low serum magnesium in pregnant women attending the University of Benin Teaching Hospital. Niger J Clin Pract 2013;16(4):448–453.
Last updated:
August 6, 2021

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