Assessment of magnesium status for diagnosis and therapy

Magnes Res. 2010 Dec;23(4):S194-8. doi: 10.1684/mrh.2010.0213. Epub 2010 Aug 24.


Magnesium is an essential element needed for health. Even though only 1% of the total body magnesium is present in blood, the serum magnesium concentration (SMC) is the predominant test used by medicine to assess magnesium status in patients. The traditional method to establish a reference interval for the SMC is flawed by the large number of "normal" individuals who have a subtle chronic negative magnesium balance due to a significant decrease in magnesium intake over the past century. Evidence-based medicine should be used to establish the appropriate lower limit of the reference interval for health and I recommend 0.85 mmol/L based on current literature. The decrease in magnesium in the diet has led to chronic latent magnesium deficiency in a large number of people since their SMC is still within the reference interval due to primarily the bone magnesium supplementing the SMC. These individuals need adjustment of their diet or magnesium supplementation to achieve a normal magnesium status for health.

MeSH terms

  • Dietary Supplements
  • Evidence-Based Medicine / methods
  • Humans
  • Magnesium / blood*
  • Magnesium Deficiency / blood*
  • Magnesium Deficiency / diagnosis*
  • Magnesium Deficiency / diet therapy


  • Magnesium