Magnesium deficiency symptoms

Updated April 17, 2017

Magnesium is a mineral that's vital for human nutrition, as it plays a critical role in many of the body's functions. Magnesium deficiency (hypomagnesemia) is considered to be uncommon, but can occur in patients that suffer from malnutrition and malabsorption (due to disorders such as Celiac or Crohn's disease), kidney disease, unmanaged diabetes, acute pancreatitis and alcoholism.


The symptoms of magnesium deficiency are divided into three categories, which are: early symptoms, moderate deficiency and severe deficiency.

Early Symptoms

Early symptoms include irritability, lethargy, insomnia, muscle tremors, confusion and reduced memory and learning capacity.

Moderate deficiency

Moderate deficiency symptoms include changes in the cardiovascular system (such as arrhythmia abnormal heart rhythms and rapid heartbeat), muscle weakness and hyperexcitability.

Severe deficiency

Severe deficiency symptoms include persistent and involuntary muscle contractions (myoclonus), tingling and numbness, vertigo, abnormal heart rhythms, coronary spasms, seizures, hallucinations and disorientation.


If a patient displays signs of having a magnesium deficiency, the doctor will administer a blood test to measure magnesium levels.

Expert Insight

Although magnesium deficiency tends to be rare, it commonly goes unnoticed because serum magnesium levels (blood panel test that mainly used) don't accurately reveal the precise amount of magnesium that the body stores.


Magnesium deficiency is typically treated by administering a magnesium supplement, which can be in the form of a capsule or an injection.

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About the Author

Serena Spinello holds two master’s degrees and is pursuing her Ph.D. in medical science. She has been a professional writer and researcher for over 10 years and is an active member of the American Medical Writers Association, Academy of Medical Educators, and the National Association of Social Workers.