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Also known as

Mag, Mg+, Magnesium, Magnesium-Serum

This test is ordered by the doctor to assess the levels of magnesium present in your blood. The test is used to identify the root causes behind abnormal levels of calcium, potassium, and magnesium present in the blood.
The doctor orders the test when the patient exhibits symptoms like irritability, nausea, weakness, cardiac arrhythmia, or diarrhea. These symptoms have been linked to abnormal levels (very high or low) of magnesium, calcium, or potassium. They may also occur when the patient is on prescribed magnesium treatment.
This is a blood and/or urine test. The doctor collects a blood sample from a vein in the arm using a syringe. On the other hand, the urine test is a timed urine collection that requires a 24-hour sample collection. The urine must be collected in a clean container and stored in the fridge.
If the doctor has prescribed the blood test, the patient needs to fast overnight (10 to 12 hours). Food may interfere with the result. You should follow any instructions you have been set by your practitioner. In addition, you must inform the doctor of any medication you are on.
Magnesium is a mineral found in a wide range of foods. Common foods which contain small traces of magnesium are green vegetables like spinach, broccoli, and rocket. It is also present in small traces in nuts and whole grains. Foods that have heavy amounts of dietary fiber are also good sources of magnesium. Magnesium is an electrolyte that is essential for various functions in your body. Electrolytes are electrically charged minerals that play crucial roles in various processes of the body.
Magnesium plays a role in the production of energy as well as a contraction in muscles, the smooth functioning of nerves, and the maintenance of healthy bones. Magnesium is mainly sourced from the diet. It is absorbed by the small intestine and colon in increments. After the mineral has been absorbed, reserves are stored in the cells, tissues, and bones. The body maintains optimal levels of the mineral in the body by regulating the amount of magnesium absorbed by keeping a check on how much is excreted or conserved in the kidney. However, it must be noted that only 1% of the total body magnesium is present at any given time in the blood. Therefore, it is difficult for doctors to get an accurate measurement of the total amount of magnesium present in the body from blood test alone. While blood tests are quicker, urine test results can be much more holistic. However, the blood test is still helpful in assessing the levels of magnesium in the body and arriving at a diagnosis.
This test is used to assess the amount of magnesium present in the blood or urine. Very high or low levels of magnesium are prevalent in diseases that restrict or cause excessive excretion of magnesium by the kidneys. Abnormal levels also lead to lesser absorption in the intestines. The levels are checked in order to detect the presence of kidney-related problems, uncontrolled diabetes, and gastrointestinal disorders. The magnesium blood test can also be used to diagnose conditions linked to abnormal levels of calcium, potassium, phosphorus, and parathyroid hormones. This is because low blood magnesium levels lead to low calcium and potassium levels.
The doctor orders the test to detect any deficiency in order to evaluate diarrhea, alcoholism, malnutrition, or malabsorption. The persistence of symptoms related to magnesium deficiency or excess of magnesium may also require testing. Symptoms of low levels of magnesium include:
  • Weakness
  • Muscle cramps or twitching
  • Confusion
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Seizures in severe cases

Symptoms of high levels of magnesium include

  • Muscle weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Issues breathing
  • Cardiac arrest in severe cases

The doctor also uses the test to follow up on persistently low levels of calcium and potassium when a patient has uncontrolled diabetes or a kidney disorder. In this case, it is ordered alongside kidney function tests like creatinine which help in monitoring kidney function.

Low levels of magnesium in the blood indicate that magnesium is not being consumed or absorbed by the body in adequate amounts. It may also indicate that too much is being eliminated by the body. Low levels of magnesium occur due to:
  1. Low dietary intake
  2. Digestive disorders (such as Crohn's disease)
  3. Uncontrolled diabetes
  4. Hypoparathyroidism
  5. Long-term diuretic use
  6. Prolonged diarrhea
  7. Post-surgery
  8. Severe burns
  9. Pre-eclampsia
An excess of magnesium is commonly due to supplements or poor elimination from the body. A magnesium excess occurs in:
  1. End-stage renal disease (ESRD)
  2. Hyperparathyroidism
  3. Hypothyroidism
  4. Dehydration
  5. Diabetic acidosis (when first seen)
  6. Addison disease
  7. Use of magnesium-containing antacids or laxatives
Hypomagnesemia or magnesium deficiencies are conditions that occur due to malnutrition. In addition, other conditions are linked to the malabsorption of or an excessive loss of magnesium by the kidney. Furthermore, an excess of magnesium in the body can also occur because of the intake of antacids that contain magnesium or a decreased ability of the kidneys to excrete magnesium. On the other hand, someone that has mild or moderate magnesium deficiency does not typically have any usual or arbitrary symptoms.
Related Tests: Calcium, Potassium, Phosphorus, Parathyroid Hormone (PTH), Vitamin D Test

Our clinical experts continually monitor the health and medical content posted on CURA4U, and we update our blogs and articles when new information becomes available. Last reviewed by Dr.Saad Zia on June 04, 2023. 


Magnesium Blood Test: MedlinePlus Medical Test

Magnesium Test: Symptoms & Causes of High / Low Levels & Deficiency

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