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What causes low levels of magnesium?

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Quick Answer

Insufficient dietary intake of magnesium and conditions that block the absorption of food from the intestines are the typical causes of low levels of magnesium, or hypomagnesemia, states WebMD. Alcohol abuse or withdrawal, high levels of calcium in the blood, chronic diarrhea, kidney disease and pancreatic infection are other causes.

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Full Answer

Pregnancy, complications from diabetes and underactive parathyroid glands can also cause reduced magnesium levels in the body, advises WebMD. Excessive sweating, burns that extend over large portions of the body and certain medications, such as diuretics and proton pump inhibitors, are sometimes responsible for hypomagnesemia, reports MedlinePlus.

Weakness, dizziness, heartbeat irregularities, twitching, shaking and seizures are possible symptoms of hypomagnesemia, according to WebMD. Muscle cramps, numbness and abnormal eye movements are other signs that may be present, notes MedlinePlus.

A doctor checks magnesium levels by performing a blood test, explains WebMD. The normal range for magnesium blood levels in adults is 1.8 to 2.6 milligrams per deciliter. A doctor may also check the blood levels of calcium, potassium and phosphate.

Depending on the cause of hypomagnesemia, treatment may include oral or intravenous administration of magnesium, administration of intravenous fluids and administration of medications, indicates MedlinePlus. Although the condition is rare, it can be life threatening, so individuals with symptoms of low magnesium should seek medical care.

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