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Magnesium Deficiency Signs & Symptoms

By Martina McAtee

Magnesium is important to every part of the body, but especially to the heart, muscles and kidneys. The mineral also contributes to tooth and bone mineralization and activates enzymes that contribute to energy production. Magnesium helps regulate other minerals, such as copper, zinc and potassium, as well as vitamin D within the body. Even when people don’t consume enough magnesium, a deficiency is rare, and symptoms often indicate an underlying cause, such as diabetes, pancreatitis, irritable bowel syndrome or kidney disease.

Restless Leg Syndrome

A lack of magnesium may cause restless leg syndrome, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Restless leg syndrome is a condition in which people’s legs feel discomfort when sitting or lying down, causing them to want to get up and move. Symptoms can include unpleasant sensations such as crawling, tingling, electrical shocks, itching, tugging and pain in the calves, thighs and feet.


Magnesium is essential for contraction and relaxation of muscles, including the heart. When magnesium levels are lowered, it can arrhythmia, or abnormal heart rhythm. People may experience slowed or rapid heart rate, as well as a fluttering feeling within their chest. An abnormal heart rhythm can lead to heart attack or heart failure, according to the National Institutes of Health. People experiencing chest pain, fainting, dizziness, paleness, changes in pulse or palpitations should consult their physician.

Neurological Changes

A magnesium deficiency can cause neurological changes in both early- and late-stage magnesium deficiencies. Medline Plus says that early symptoms of a magnesium deficiency can cause people to feel confusion, poor memory, irritability and reduced ability to learn new information. Severe magnesium deficiency can cause delirium and both visual and auditory hallucinations.

Muscle Spasms

Because magnesium is necessary for contraction and relaxation of muscles, the early signs of magnesium deficiency can cause muscle weakness and twitches. When magnesium deficiencies become severe, muscle contraction can become continuous, leading to spasms and severe pain.

Fatigue and Insomnia

Magnesium both produces and transports energy within the body. People with a slight magnesium deficiency can experience fatigue and lethargy. Conversely, magnesium deficiency can also cause insomnia, or an inability to fall or stay asleep.

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