Magnesium deficiency in healthy individuals who are consuming a balanced diet is quite rare because magnesium is abundant in both plant and animal-derived foods (1).

The risk of magnesium deficiency is increased in individuals with gastrointestinal disorders (e.g., prolonged diarrhea, Crohn's disease, surgical removal of a portion of the bowel), renal disorders (increased urinary loss of magnesium in diabetes mellitus and long-term use of certain diuretics), and chronic alcoholism. Additionally, the magnesium absorption in the digestive tract tends to decrease with age and urinary magnesium excretion tends to increase with age (4).


Although severe magnesium deficiency is uncommon, it has been induced experimentally in humans: along with decreased blood serum magnesium levels (‘hypomagnesemia’), signs of severe magnesium deficiency included low blood calcium levels (‘hypocalcemia’), low blood serum potassium levels (‘hypokalemia’), retention of sodium, neurological and muscular symptoms (e.g., muscle spasms), loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, and personality changes (3) and unwanted neuromuscular, cardiac or nervous disorders (59). Several chronic diseases like Alzheimer's disease, insulin resistance and type-2 diabetes mellitus, hypertension, cardiovascular disease (e.g., stroke), migraine headaches, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) have been associated with hypomagnesemia (59).


Authored by Dr Peter Engel in 2010 and reviewed and revised by Angelika Friedel on 03.05.2017.