Magnesium Deficiency: Symptoms & Treatments

[Article updated on 19/09/2023]

Magnesium deficiency affects a large part of the world’s population. It is characterized by the drop in the level of this mineral in the body. This leads to the appearance of many symptoms that affect the patient’s quality of life and put their health at risk. How to recognize hypomagnesemia and what measures should be taken to remedy it?

Before reading on

I’m not an expert in this field, but I am passionate about nutrition and health.

The articles you’ll find on my site are the result of in-depth research that I’d like to share with you. However, I would like to stress that I am not a health professional and that my advice should in no way replace that of a qualified physician. I’m here to guide you, but it’s important that you consult a professional for specific questions or medical concerns. Your well-being is important. So be sure to consult the appropriate experts and take the best possible care of yourself.

What is a magnesium deficiency?

Magnesium is an essential mineral that participates in more than 300 metabolic reactions in the body. It is present in:

  • Blood: serum magnesium;
  • Cells: globular magnesium.

Normally, an individual’s serum magnesium level should be between 0.75 and 1mmol/l. Thus, there is hypomagnesemia or lack of magnesium when it falls below 0.75 mmol/l.

What are the causes of magnesium deficiency?

Many factors can cause a magnesium deficiency.

Insufficient food intake

Insufficient magnesium intake in the daily diet is one of the main causes of deficiency of this mineral. As an indication, humans must absorb 6 mg of magnesium per kg of body mass per day to be in good health.

Magnesium deficiency: Symptoms, treatments & preferred foods.
Humans must absorb 6 mg of magnesium per kg per day to be in good health.

In other words:

  • Around 75 to 80 mg for a child under 3 years old;
  • Around 100 mg up to 6 or 7 years old;
  • Between 180 and 200 mg up to 10 years;
  • Around 275 to 300 mg for an adolescent;
  • On average between 300 and 450 mg for adults;
  • 315 to 320 mg for a pregnant woman;
  • About 380 mg while breastfeeding.

This therefore implies that a restrictive diet can also be the cause of a lack of magnesium.

Too intense physical activity

Excessive physical activity lowers magnesium levels in the body. Indeed, a study showed that the magnesium concentration in urine decreases after a marathon. This is due to the fact that the body consumes a lot of energy during exercise. The researchers therefore concluded that athletes need 20% more magnesium than the average individual.

Other causes of magnesium deficiency

Other causes of hypomagnesemia include:

  • Taking a diuretic: causes magnesium to be excreted through urine;
  • Diarrhea prolonged over a long period;
  • Kidney disease and liver disease;
  • Too much calcium intake;
  • Pregnancy, breastfeeding, menstruation and menopause;
  • Age;
  • Chronic or acute stress;
  • Taking certain medications such as contraceptives or cancer treatments;
  • Excessive consumption of coffee, tea, soda and alcoholic beverages.

What are the symptoms of magnesium deficiency?

The symptoms of magnesium deficiency are generally the same regardless of the cause. Check them out.


Fatigue, especially when waking up, is one of the main signs of magnesium deficiency. Do you feel exhausted in the morning, do you want to sleep all the time or do you have frequent bouts of fatigue during the day? You may have hypomagnesemia.

Indeed, this mineral is essential for the transport of glucose to the cells and for the transformation of it into energy.

Magnesium deficiency: Symptoms, treatments & preferred foods.
Fatigue, especially when waking up, is one of the main signs of magnesium deficiency.

Muscle cramps and spasms

First, it is important to note that more than a quarter of the daily magnesium intake is intended for muscles. This mineral indeed participates in several muscular functions, including the following:

  • The transmission of energy to the muscles;
  • Neuromuscular transmission;
  • Activation of muscle relaxation after exercise.

This is how a magnesium deficiency can lead to cramps and muscle spasms in certain cases.

Stress, anxiety and irritability

Magnesium is also involved in the regulation of stress hormones and promotes the proper functioning of the nervous system. Are you irritable, always feeling stressed or suffering from anxiety and panic attacks? It is possible that hypomagnesemia is the cause. And be careful because this situation can quickly get out of control. Indeed, a magnesium deficiency causes stress, but stress also lowers the level of magnesium in the blood.

Other signs of a lack of magnesium

The following symptoms may also indicate a magnesium deficiency:

  • Twitching of the eyelids;
  • Bloating;
  • Sensitivity of healthy people;
  • Palpitations;
  • Migraines and dizziness;
  • Tingling and/or tingling of the limbs;
  • Hypertension;
  • Weightloss ;
  • Sleep disorder ;
  • Vision disorder;
  • Infections of all kinds.

How to diagnose a lack of magnesium?

Do you have some of the symptoms mentioned above? I advise you to go to your doctor for a diagnosis. He will order a blood test to assess your serum magnesium level. Please note that it is not necessary to be fasting for the blood test in this case. There is also another method that can detect hypomagnesemia when the serum magnesium level is normal.

Magnesium deficiency: Symptoms, treatments & preferred foods.
A diagnosis is recommended to identify a deficiency

It consists of injecting a defined dose of magnesium into the blood intravenously and measuring the quantity evacuated through urine after 24 hours. The deficiency is confirmed in the case where the quantity absorbed is greater than that which is excreted.

What to do in case of magnesium deficiency?

Magnesium deficiency confirmed? Here are the steps you can take to remedy this.

Consume foods rich in magnesium

If the deficiency is not too significant, doctors often recommend that you consume foods rich in magnesium. This is generally enough to naturally and easily raise the level of this mineral in your body.

Undergoing treatment for magnesium deficiency

In more advanced cases, the doctor may prescribe magnesium supplements. These generally come in several forms:

  • Magnesium chloride ;
  • Magnesium malate;
  • Magnesium glycinate;
  • Magnesium orotate;
  • Magnesium citrate.

The treatment should be accompanied by vitamin B6 and taurine. I also remind you that an excess of magnesium is generally harmless because the surplus is evacuated in the urine. However, it can damage the kidneys in some cases.

Other treatments to correct hypomagnesemia

A 2020 study found that vaping is also an effective way to address globular magnesium deficiency. In fact, this treatment, also called transdermal therapy, would promote an increase of more than 25% in the level of this mineral in your cells. Finally, some professionals recommend bathing in Epsom salt which is actually magnesium sulfate.

Magnesium deficiency: Symptoms, treatments & preferred foods.
Alternative treatments exist to remedy hypomagnesemia.

Foods to choose to limit the risks of magnesium deficiency

Consuming the following foods regularly helps prevent hypomagnesemia. This can also help you bring the magnesium levels in your body back to normal.

  • Dark chocolate and cocoa;
  • Tofu and other soy-based foods;
  • Legumes;
  • Whole grains;
  • Oily fish and tuna;
  • Almonds, cashew nuts, sesame seeds or even flax seeds;
  • The green vegetables ;
  • Dried seaweed;
  • Mineral water.


The symptoms of hypomagnesemia can significantly affect your quality of life. Furthermore, some scientists claim that it is sometimes the cause of significant heart problems. I therefore recommend that you learn to balance your diet in order to prevent magnesium deficiency. If you already suffer from it, it is also possible to take supplements or opt for transdermal therapy. However, I would like to note that other diseases or deficiencies in trace elements and minerals may be the cause of these symptoms. I therefore advise you to consult a doctor who will be able to prescribe the necessary analyzes before starting treatment.