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What is magnesium?

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. 

What is magnesium deficiency & its risks?

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. Severe magnesium deficiency can cause low blood levels of calcium or potassium².

When should I measure my magnesium levels?

This test is recommended for those who consume less magnesium than the recommended daily allowance (e.g., older adults and alcoholics), have a condition that interferes with the absorption of magnesium (e.g., Crohn’s disease and celiac disease), or have type 2 diabetes, which leads to increased magnesium excretion².

Symptoms of a new magnesium deficiency include loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting, fatigue, and weakness². Among the symptoms of more severe magnesium deficiency are numbness, tingling, muscle contractions and cramps, and seizures.


What are considered normal magnesium levels?

The normal range for blood magnesium is 1.7–2.2 mg/dL³.


What is a low level of magnesium?

Any result below 1.7 mg/dL is considered low.

How can I improve my magnesium levels?

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:
September 23, 2021

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