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Medically reviewed by Last updated on Sep 3, 2023.

What is hypomagnesemia?

Hypomagnesemia is a condition that develops when the amount of magnesium in your body is too low. Magnesium is a mineral that helps your heart, muscles, and nerves work normally. It also helps strengthen your bones.

What causes or increases my risk for hypomagnesemia?

  • Low intake of foods that contain magnesium
  • Vomiting and diarrhea
  • Alcoholism
  • Medicines, such as proton pump inhibitors (medicines for reflux), antibiotics, diuretics, insulin, and some forms of chemotherapy
  • Health conditions, such as diabetes, some forms of kidney disease, and bowel disorders such as celiac disease
  • Serious injuries, burns, surgery, or heart attacks

What are the signs and symptoms of hypomagnesemia?

You may have no signs or symptoms when your levels are only slightly below normal. As your blood levels continue to decrease, you may develop any of the following:

  • Muscle weakness
  • Muscle tightness, tremors, or twitches
  • Irritability or insomnia
  • Numbness and tingling
  • Severe drowsiness, fatigue, and confusion
  • Fast or irregular heart rate
  • Seizures

How is hypomagnesemia diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider will ask about any medical conditions you have, and medicines you take. Blood tests will be done to show the level of magnesium in your blood. Urine tests may also be done to show the amount of magnesium leaving your body through your urine.

How is hypomagnesemia treated?

Magnesium is given to you in the form of a pill if you have no symptoms and tests show you have mild hypomagnesemia. Magnesium will be given to you through an IV if you have moderate to life-threatening hypomagnesemia.

Treatment options

The following list of medications are in some way related to or used in the treatment of this condition.

View more treatment options

How can hypomagnesemia be prevented?

  • Manage health conditions by following your treatment plan. Health conditions such as congestive heart failure, diabetes, and chronic diarrhea can put you at risk for hypomagnesemia.
  • Eat foods that contain magnesium every day. Ask your dietitian or healthcare provider how much magnesium you need each day.
  • Limit or do not drink alcohol. Alcohol can prevent your body from absorbing magnesium. Alcohol also makes your body release large amounts of magnesium through your urine.
  • You may need to take a magnesium supplement. Ask your healthcare provider which supplement to take and how often to take it.

What foods contain magnesium?

  • Almonds, cashews, peanuts, and peanut butter
  • Dark green leafy vegetables, such as spinach
  • Raisins, bananas, apples, broccoli, and carrots
  • Soy milk and soy beans
  • Black beans and kidney beans
  • Whole-wheat bread and brown rice
  • Shredded wheat cereal, oatmeal, and other breakfast cereals fortified with magnesium
  • Plain low-fat yogurt and milk
  • Cooked halibut

When should I seek immediate care?

  • You have numbness and tingling in your arms or legs.
  • You have painful muscle spasms and tremors in your arms or legs.
  • You are not able to move your muscles, and you have trouble thinking clearly.
  • Your heartbeat is faster than usual, or is irregular.
  • You have a seizure.

When should I contact my healthcare provider?

  • You have fatigue and muscle tremors or twitching.
  • You become irritable and have trouble sleeping.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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