How to Treat a Magnesium Deficiency

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Although magnesium deficiency is rare, when it does occur it can cause symptoms such as fatigue, vertigo, muscle weakness, cardiac arrhythmia and involuntary muscle twitches or tremors. Magnesium deficiency is usually caused by malnutrition, kidney disease, uncontrolled diabetes, chronic alcoholism or malabsorption problems. Certain medications or removal of the parathyroid glands also can be responsible for this mineral deficiency. Magnesium deficiency is sometimes difficult to diagnose, but it can be treated once clinically confirmed.

Increase your dietary intake of magnesium if blood levels of the mineral indicate mild depletion. Dark, green leafy vegetables are one of the best food sources. Include at least five servings of fruits and vegetables in your daily diet. Spinach, beans, peas, nuts and whole grains are all good dietary sources of magnesium. According to the Office of Dietary Supplements, the Recommended Daily Allowance of magnesium for the average adult is 400 milligrams.

Ask your doctor to evaluate the status of any current health problems, particularly if you have a gastrointestinal disorder such as Crohn’s disease that could be interfering with your body’s absorption of magnesium. Kidney disease or poorly controlled diabetes often contributes to very low magnesium levels. Hyperglycemia can cause the kidneys to excrete more magnesium in urine.

Have a look at the medications you take. Many prescription drugs adversely interact with magnesium. Antibiotics, diuretics and some cancer drugs may be causing you to lose too much magnesium in urine. If your doctor regularly prescribes any of these types of medications, he should routinely screen your magnesium levels. You may need to take magnesium supplements while on these medicines.

Consider the possibility that you might have low levels of calcium and potassium along with a magnesium deficiency. You may need to add potassium and calcium supplementation to your diet. In many cases, resolving a magnesium deficiency will correct these two mineral deficiencies as well.

Report the symptoms of chronic diarrhea or severe vomiting to your doctor. No matter what the cause for these symptoms, they could be depleting your body of magnesium.

Stop drinking alcohol. Excessive consumption of alcohol may be the reason for magnesium depletion. Alcohol causes magnesium to be excreted in the urine. Prolonged alcohol abuse also can lead to serious problems in the gastrointestinal tract.


In cases where magnesium is severely depleted, intravenous therapy may be required to replace magnesium and return blood levels to normal.