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Magnesium deficiency
Classification and external resources

ICD-10 E61.2
MedlinePlus 002423

Magnesium deficiency refers to a lack of dietary magnesium below specified levels, which can result in numerous symptoms and conditions. This can generally be remedied by an alteration of diet or oral supplements. However intravenous supplementation is necessary for more severe cases.



Symptoms of magnesium deficiency include: hyperexcitability, muscle weakness and tiredness.[1] Severe magnesium deficiency can cause death from heart failure.[2]


61% of the US population does not meet the US RDA for levels of magnesium.[3] The kidneys are very efficient at maintaining body levels, but not in cases where the diet is deficient.[citation needed]


"Magnesium depletion" (ICD10 code E83.4) should be distinguished from hypomagnesemia, since the first refers to a disorder of magnesium metabolism, and is much more difficult to treat. However, in the past, the terms have sometimes been used interchangeably. Magnesium deficiency can be present without hypomagnesemia, and hypomagnesemia can be present without magnesium deficiency.

Causes of magnesium deficiency include alcohol abuse, poorly controlled diabetes, excessive or chronic vomiting and/or diarrhea. Certain drugs can also deplete magnesium levels such as osmotic diuretics, cisplatin, ciclosporin, amphetamines, and possibly proton pump inhibitors. Also deficiency may occur in Bartter syndrome and Gitelman syndrome.

For a more detailed discussion on the subject of magnesium metabolism and causes of magnesium deficiency see hypomagnesemia.


Magnesium is absorbed orally at about 30% bioavailability from any water soluble salt, such as magnesium chloride or citrate. The citrate is the least expensive oral magnesium salt available in supplements, with 100 mg and 200 mg magnesium typically contained per capsule.

Some dietary supplements sold in the United States and the West contain magnesium, although the ligand of choice for large-scale manufacturers is ‘‘oxide’’ due to its compactness and ease of use in manufacturing. Unfortunately, magnesium oxide is not biologically available in the human body.[4][5] Magnesium insoluble salts, such as magnesium hydroxide (milk of magnesia) and magnesium oxide depend on stomach acid for neutralization before they can be absorbed, and thus offer poor oral magnesium sources. Magnesium aspartate, chloride, lactate and glycinate each have bioavailability 4 times greater than the oxide form and equivalent to each other.[6][7] Magnesium citrate and magnesium sulfate (Epsom salts) have been recommended as magnesium sources.

Claims of repletion with blue-green algae/cyanobacteria [8] have not been proven, and the powdered product contains only 2mg of magnesium per gram, which would require 150 grams to supply 300mg of magnesium.[9]

Severe hypomagnesemia is often treated medically with intravenous or intramuscular magnesium sulfate solution, which is completely bioavailable, and effective.


  1. ^
  2. ^ Health and Nutrition Secrets, Russell L. Blaylock, M.D., Health Press, 2006, page 395, ISBN 978-0-929173-48-1
  3. ^ "Community Nutrition Products and Services, Community Nutrition : CNMap". Retrieved 2007-07-24. 
  4. ^ G. Eby, K. Eby (2006), "Rapid recovery from major depression using magnesium treatment.", Medical Hypotheses 67 (2): 362–370, doi:10.1016/j.mehy.2006.01.047
  5. ^ Walker AF, Marakis G, Christie Byng M. Mg citrate found more bioavailable than other Mg preparations in a randomised, double-blind study. Magnes Res 2003;16:183–91.
  6. ^ Firoz M, Graber M: "Bioavailability of US commercial magnesium preparations.", Magnesium Research 2001 Dec;14(4):257-62.
  7. ^ Lindberg JS, Zobitz MM, Poindexter JR, Pak CY: "Magnesium bioavailability from magnesium citrate and magnesium oxide.",J Am Coll Nutr. 1990 Feb;9(1):48-55.
  8. ^ McKeith, Gillian Ph.D. Miracle Superfood: Wild Blue-Green Algae, Keats Publishing 1999, pp. 14-41
  9. ^


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