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  The Magnesium Project - Diseases

Hypomagnesemia

Hypomagnesemia is a condition defined by lower than normal levels of magnesium ions in the blood of an animal.  For the human the normal range is considered to be between 2-3 mg/100ml (0.8 - 1.25 mM).

The causes of hypomagnesemia are many.  It could be due to lack of Mg in the diet or water.  It may also be due to failure to absorb the Mg into the blood stream from the gastrointestinal tract.  It could also be due to the excess excretion and/or lack of reabsorption from the kidneys.  It has been estimated that as many as 30% of the U.S. population are below recommended levels for Mg based upon a government survey (NHANES)*.

Normal dietary requirements vary with size, weight, age,  gender, lifestyle and other conditions.  The   following chart was taken from the Oregon State University, Linus Pauling Institute web site. http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/infocenter/minerals/magnesium/.  The values are from the 1997 revised recommended dietary allowance (RDA) promulgated by the  Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine.  More recent recommendations have changed little.

Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for Magnesium

Life Stage 

Age 

Males (mg/day) 

Females (mg/day) 

Infants 

0-6 months

30 (AI) 

30 (AI) 

Infants 

7-12 months 

75 (AI) 

75 (AI) 

Children 

1-3 years 

80 

80 

Children

4-8 years

130 

130 

Children 

9-13 years 

240 

240 

Adolescents 

14-18 years 

410 

360 

Adults 

19-30 years 

400 

310 

Adults 

31 years and older 

420

320 

Pregnancy 

18 years and younger 

-

400 

Pregnancy 

19-30 years

-

350 

Pregnancy 

31 years and older

-

360 

Breast-feeding 

18 years and younger

-

360 

Breast-feeding 

19-30 years

-

310 

Breast-feeding 

31 years and older

-

320


  Diseases/Conditions that may relate to Hypomagnesemia include the following:

* Gitelmann's Syndrome - ventricular tachycardia - hypokalemia and hypomagnesemia combination. 

* Arrythmias are also associated with magnesium deficits.

* Malabsorption syndromes of all causes (e.g. kwashiorkor)

* Lactation - increases the requirement for Mg (Merck Manual p. 1201, 13th ed)

* Kidney diseases - Excessive Mg wasting (loss) from kidneys (or abnormal renal conservation (such as hyper-secretion of aldosterone, ADH, or thyroid hormone, diabetic acidosis, diuretic therapy, et al.

* Parathyroid diseases in which a tumor of the parathyroid gland is removed.

* Others

Clinical manifestations of hypomagnesemia:

  • Muscle fatigue or dystonias

  • Cardiac arrhythmias - mitral valve prolapse (Holland & Barrett), Torsades de pointe

  • High blood pressure

  • Aches and pains

  • Seizures

  • Dizziness

  • Muscle spasms

Remedies for low blood magnesium include changing one's diet to including more green vegetables and other foods rich in magnesium.  One may also take daily supplements of for example Mg Oxide.  A typical dose in a 400 milligram Magnesium oxide pill is 241 mg of elemental Mg which means one may need to take two of these daily to reach the level required to overcome a deficit.

Mg levels in the urine or other body fluids (saliva, sweat) have not been studied sufficiently to determine whether the levels are indicative of tissue or blood levels.  It is generally accepted that measurement of free Mg++ ions in the blood is a better indicator of clinical manifestations.  This requires a special ion selective electrode to make this determination.  Another indicator is the level of Mg in red blood cells although it is not clear why this should be a good predictor of muscle tissue levels.

See Methods for testing Mg and references.

*Moshfegh A, Goldman J, Cleveland L. 2005. What We Eat in America, NHANES 2001-2002: Usual nutrient intakes from food compared to dietary reference intakes. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service. Available at: http://www.ars.usda.gov/Services/docs.htm?docid=13793.

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Revised: November 06, 2016