Magnesium blood test
A serum magnesium test measures the level of magnesium in the blood.
Magnesium - blood
How the Test is Performed
How to Prepare for the Test
No special preparation is needed.
How the Test will Feel
When the needle is inserted to draw blood, some people feel slight pain. Others feel a prick or stinging. Afterward, there may be some throbbing or a slight bruise. This soon goes away.
Why the Test is Performed
This test is done when your health care provider suspects you have an abnormal level of magnesium in your blood.
About one half of the body's magnesium is found in bone. The other half is found inside cells of body tissues and organs.
Magnesium is needed for many chemical processes in the body. It helps maintain normal muscle and nerve function, and keeps the bones strong. Magnesium is also needed for the heart to function normally and to help regulate blood pressure. Magnesium also helps the body control blood sugar level and helps support the body's defense (immune) system.
The normal range for blood magnesium level is 1.7 to 2.2 mg/dL (0.85 to 1.10 mmol/L).
Normal value ranges may vary slightly among different laboratories. Some labs use different measurements or test different samples. Talk to your provider about the meaning of your specific test results.
What Abnormal Results Mean
A high magnesium level may be due to:
- Adrenal insufficiency (the glands are not producing enough hormones)
- Diabetic ketoacidosis, a life-threatening problem in people with diabetes
- Taking the medicine lithium
- Loss of kidney function (
acute or chronic renal failure)
- Loss of body fluids (
dehydration) Milk alkali syndrome(a condition in which there is a high level of calcium in the body)
A low magnesium level may be due to:
Alcohol use disorder
- Hyperaldosteronism (adrenal gland produces too much of the hormone aldosterone)
- Hypercalcemia (high blood calcium level)
- Kidney disease
- Long-term (chronic)
- Taking certain medicines such as proton pump inhibitors (for GERD), diuretics (water pills), aminoglycoside antibiotics, amphotericin, cisplatin, calcineurin inhibitors
- Inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis)
- Uncontrolled diabetes
- High blood pressure and protein in the urine in a pregnant woman (
- Inflammation of the lining of the large intestine and rectum (
There is little risk in having your blood taken. Veins and arteries vary in size from one person to another and from one side of the body to the other. Taking blood from some people may be more difficult than from others.
Other risks may include:
- Excessive bleeding
- Fainting or feeling lightheaded
- Multiple punctures to locate veins
- Hematoma (blood accumulating under the skin)
- Infection (a slight risk any time the skin is broken)
Chernecky CC, Berger BJ. Magnesium - serum. In: Chernecky CC, Berger BJ, eds. Laboratory Tests and Diagnostic Procedures. 6th ed. St Louis, MO: Elsevier Saunders; 2013:750-751.
Klemm KM, Klein MJ. Biochemical markers of bone metabolism. In: McPherson RA, Pincus MR, eds. Henry's Clinical Diagnosis and Management by Laboratory Methods. 22nd ed. St Louis, MO: Elsevier; 2017:chap 15.
Mason JB. Vitamins, trace minerals, and other micronutrients. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 25th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 218.
Review Date: 01/26/2019
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. Copyright ©2019 A.D.A.M., Inc., as modified by University of California San Francisco. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
Information developed by A.D.A.M., Inc. regarding tests and test results may not directly correspond with information provided by UCSF Health. Please discuss with your doctor any questions or concerns you may have.