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Magnesium Blood Test

What is a magnesium blood test?

A magnesium blood test measures the amount of magnesium in your blood. Magnesium is a type of electrolyte. Electrolytes are electrically charged minerals that are responsible for many important functions and processes in your body.

Your body needs magnesium to help your muscles, nerves, and heart work properly. Magnesium also helps control blood pressure and blood sugar.

Most of your body's magnesium is in your bones and cells. But a small amount is found in your blood. Magnesium levels in the blood that are too low or too high can be a sign of a serious health problem.

Other names: Mg, Mag, Magnesium-Serum

What is it used for?

A magnesium blood test is used to check to see if you have too little or too much magnesium in the blood. Having too little magnesium, known as hypomagnesemia or magnesium deficiency, is more common than having too much magnesium, which is known as hypermagnesemia.

A magnesium blood test is also sometimes included with tests of other electrolytes, such as sodium, calcium, potassium, and chloride.

Why do I need a magnesium blood test?

Your health care provider may order a magnesium blood test if you have symptoms of low magnesium or high magnesium levels.

Symptoms of low magnesium include:

Symptoms of high magnesium include:

You may also need this test if you are pregnant. A magnesium deficiency can be a sign of preeclampsia, a serious form of high blood pressure that affects pregnant women.

In addition, your provider may order this test if you have a health problem that can cause a magnesium deficiency. These include malnutrition, alcoholism, and diabetes.

What happens during a magnesium blood test?

A health care professional will take a blood sample from a vein in your arm, using a small needle. After the needle is inserted, a small amount of blood will be collected into a test tube or vial. You may feel a little sting when the needle goes in or out. This usually takes less than five minutes.

Will I need to do anything to prepare for the test?

Certain medicines can affect magnesium levels. Tell your health care provider about any prescription and over-the-counter medicines you are taking. Your provider will let you know if you need to stop taking them for a few days before your test. You'll also need to stop taking magnesium supplements before your test.

Are there any risks to the test?

There is very little risk to having a blood test. You may have slight pain or bruising at the spot where the needle was put in, but most symptoms go away quickly.

What do the results mean?

If your results show you have a magnesium deficiency, it may be a sign of:

If your results show you have a higher than normal amount of magnesium, it may be a sign of:

  • Addison disease, a disorder of the adrenal glands
  • Kidney disease
  • Dehydration, the loss of too much bodily fluids
  • Diabetic ketoacidosis, a life-threatening complication of diabetes
  • Overuse of antacids or laxatives that contain magnesium

If your results show you have a magnesium deficiency, your health care provider will probably recommend you take magnesium supplements to raise levels of the mineral. If your results show you have too much magnesium, your provider may recommend IV therapies (medicine given directly to your veins) that can remove excess magnesium.

If you have questions about your results, talk to your health care provider.

Is there anything else I need to know about a magnesium blood test?

Your health care provider may order a magnesium in urine test, in addition to a magnesium blood test.

References

  1. Hinkle J, Cheever K. Brunner & Suddarth's Handbook of Laboratory and Diagnostic Tests. 2nd Ed, Kindle. Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer Health, Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; c2014. Magnesium, Serum; p. 372.
  2. Lab Tests Online [Internet]. Washington D.C: American Association for Clinical Chemistry; c2001–2019. Electrolytes [updated 2019 May 6; cited 2019 Jun 10]; [about 2 screens]. Available from: https://labtestsonline.org/tests/electrolytes
  3. Lab Tests Online [Internet]. Washington D.C: American Association for Clinical Chemistry; c2001–2019. Magnesium [updated 2018 Dec 21; cited 2019 Jun 10]; [about 2 screens]. Available from: https://labtestsonline.org/tests/magnesium
  4. Lab Tests Online [Internet]. Washington D.C: American Association for Clinical Chemistry; c2001–2019. Pre-eclampsia [updated 2019 May 14; cited 2019 Jun 10]; [about 2 screens]. Available from: https://labtestsonline.org/conditions/pre-eclampsia
  5. Merck Manual Consumer Version [Internet]. Kenilworth (NJ): Merck & Co., Inc.; c2019. Hypermagnesemia (High Level of Magnesium in the Blood) [updated 2018 Sep; cited 2019 Jun 10]; [about 3 screens]. Available from: https://www.merckmanuals.com/home/hormonal-and-metabolic-disorders/electrolyte-balance/hypermagnesemia-high-level-of-magnesium-in-the-blood?query=hypermagnesemia
  6. Merck Manual Consumer Version [Internet]. Kenilworth (NJ): Merck & Co., Inc.; c2019. Hypomagnesemia (Low Level of Magnesium in the Blood) [updated 2018 Sep; cited 2019 Jun 10]; [about 3 screens]. Available from: https://www.merckmanuals.com/home/hormonal-and-metabolic-disorders/electrolyte-balance/hypomagnesemia-low-level-of-magnesium-in-the-blood?query=magnesium%20deficiency
  7. Merck Manual Consumer Version [Internet]. Kenilworth (NJ): Merck & Co., Inc.; c2019. Overview of Magnesium's Role in the Body [updated 2018 Sep; cited 2019 Jun 10]; [about 2 screens]. Available from: https://www.merckmanuals.com/home/hormonal-and-metabolic-disorders/electrolyte-balance/overview-of-magnesium-s-role-in-the-body?query=magnesium
  8. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute [Internet]. Bethesda (MD): U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; Blood Tests [cited 2019 Jun 10]; [about 3 screens]. Available from: https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/blood-tests
  9. UF Health: University of Florida Health [Internet]. Gainesville (FL): University of Florida Health; c2019. Magnesium blood test: Overview [updated 2019 Jun 10; cited 2019 Jun 10]; [about 2 screens]. Available from: https://ufhealth.org/magnesium-blood-test
  10. University of Rochester Medical Center [Internet]. Rochester (NY): University of Rochester Medical Center; c2019. Health Encyclopedia: Magnesium (Blood) [cited 2019 Jun 10]; [about 2 screens]. Available from: https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?contenttypeid=167&contentid=magnesium_blood
  11. UW Health [Internet]. Madison (WI): University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority; c2019. Health Information: Magnesium (Mg): How to Prepare [updated 2018 Jun 25; cited 2019 Jun 10]; [about 4 screens]. Available from: https://www.uwhealth.org/health/topic/medicaltest/magnesium/aa11636.html#aa11652
  12. UW Health [Internet]. Madison (WI): University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority; c2019. Health Information: Magnesium (Mg): Test Overview [updated 2018 Jun 25; cited 2019 Jun 10]; [about 2 screens]. Available from: https://www.uwhealth.org/health/topic/medicaltest/magnesium/aa11636.html

The medical information provided is for informational purposes only, and is not to be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please contact your health care provider with questions you may have regarding medical conditions or the interpretation of test results.

In the event of a medical emergency, call 911 immediately.