Magnesium deficiency, also known as hypomagnesemia, is an often-overlooked health problem. The symptoms of low magnesium can vary. They can be both physical and mental.

Estimates state that while 2–15% of Americans experience magnesium deficiency, that percentage is far greater in hospital and ICU patients and people with diabetes or alcohol use disorder.

In some cases, deficiency may be underdiagnosed since the obvious signs commonly don’t appear until your levels become severely low.

Health conditions such as diabetes, poor absorption, chronic diarrhea, and celiac disease are associated with magnesium loss. People with alcohol use disorder are also at an increased risk of deficiency.

This article lists 7 symptoms of magnesium deficiency.

Twitches, tremors, and muscle cramps are signs of magnesium deficiency. In worst-case scenarios, deficiency may even cause seizures or convulsions.

Scientists believe these symptoms are caused by a greater flow of calcium into nerve cells, which overexcites or hyperstimulates the muscle nerves.

Keep in mind that involuntary muscle twitches may have many other causes. For example, stress or excessive caffeine could also cause involuntary muscle spasms.

They may also be a side effect of some medications or a symptom of neuromuscular disease such as muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, or myasthenia gravis.


Common signs of magnesium deficiency include muscle twitches, tremors, and cramps. However, supplements are unlikely to reduce these symptoms in older adults or people who aren’t deficient in magnesium.

Mental health conditions are another possible effect of magnesium deficiency.

One example is apathy, which is characterized by mental numbness or lack of emotion. Low magnesium levels may also increase a person’s risk of stress, depression, and anxiety.

One review concluded that magnesium supplements might benefit a subset of people with anxiety disorders, but the quality of the evidence is poor. However, higher-quality studies are neccesary to reach further conclusions.


Magnesium deficiency may cause lack of emotion, delirium, and even coma. Scientists have suggested that deficiency may also cause anxiety, but no strong evidence supports this idea.

Osteoporosis is a disorder characterized by weak bones and an increased risk of bone fractures.

Magnesium deficiency is a risk factor for osteoporosis. Deficiency might weaken bones directly, but it also lowers the blood levels of calcium, the main building block of bones.

Numerous factors influence the risk of developing osteoporosis, including:

  • aging
  • lack of exercise
  • poor dietary intake of vitamins D and K

Magnesium deficiency may be one of the risk factors for osteoporosis and bone fractures, though many factors influence this risk.

Fatigue is a broad term that includes symptoms of physical and mental exhaustion or weakness. Typically, it simply means you need to rest. However, severe or persistent fatigue may indicate a health problem.

Both general fatigue and specific muscle weakness are symptoms of magnesium deficiency. Low magnesium levels affect multiple body processes including nerve signaling and potassium levels in muscle cells, which respectively may cause fatigue and weakness.


Magnesium deficiency may cause fatigue or muscle weakness. However, these are not specific signs of a deficiency unless they are accompanied by other symptoms.

Animal studies show that magnesium deficiency may increase blood pressure and promote high blood pressure, which is a strong risk factor for heart disease.

While direct evidence in humans is lacking, research suggests that low magnesium levels or poor dietary intake may raise blood pressure

Additionally, reviews show that magnesium supplements may lower blood pressure, especially in adults with high blood pressure.


Evidence suggests magnesium deficiency may raise blood pressure. Additionally, supplements may benefit people with high blood pressure.

Magnesium deficiency is common in people with severe asthma. Additionally, magnesium levels tend to be lower in individuals with asthma than in people who do not have this condition.

Inhalers with magnesium sulfate can often help reduce mild asthma symptoms, and intravenous magnesium sulfate is an effective treatment for severe exacerbations.

However, evidence for the effectiveness of dietary magnesium supplements in individuals with asthma is inconsistent.


Magnesium deficiency has been associated with severe asthma. However, its role in the development of asthma is not entirely understood.

Heart arrhythmia, or irregular heartbeat, is a potentially severe effect of magnesium deficiency.

Arrhythmia can range from causing no symptoms to causing very serious symptoms. In some people, it may cause heart palpitations, which are pauses between heartbeats.

In the most severe cases, arrhythmia may increase the risk of stroke or heart failure.


Magnesium deficiency can cause or worsen arrhythmia, or irregular heartbeat, which may increase the risk of more serious complications, such as a stroke or heart failure.

The table below shows the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) or adequate intake (AI) of magnesium for people in the United States.

Birth to 6 months30 mg*30 mg*
7–12 months75 mg*75 mg*
1–3 years80 mg80 mg
4–8 years130 mg130 mg
9–13 years240 mg240 mg
14–18 years410 mg360 mg400 mg360 mg
19–30 years400 mg310 mg350 mg310 mg
31–50 years420 mg320 mg360 mg320 mg
51+ years420 mg320 mg

*Adequate intake

Although many people don’t reach the RDA for magnesium, there are plenty of magnesium-rich foods to choose from.

Magnesium is widely found in both plant- and animal-based foods. The richest sources are seeds and nuts, but whole grains, beans, and leafy green vegetables are also relatively good sources.

If you have a health condition that causes your body to lose magnesium, such as diabetes, it’s important to eat plenty of magnesium-rich foods or take supplements.

Talk with your doctor about creating a plan to increase your magnesium intake that works well for your needs.

The symptoms of magnesium deficiency are usually subtle unless your levels become severely low.

Deficiency may cause:

  • fatigue
  • muscle cramps
  • mental health conditions
  • irregular heartbeat
  • osteoporosis

If you believe you may have a magnesium deficiency, you should speak with your doctor.