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Low magnesium and potassium symptoms

The low blood level of magnesium is known as hypomagnesemia. While low potassium blood level is known as hypokalemia. Now, what are the symptoms of low magnesium and potassium levels in your blood? And what foods are rich in magnesium and potassium? Find your answer in this article.

Symptoms of hypomagnesemia | Foods rich in magnesium | Symptoms of hypokalemia | Foods rich in potassium | Summary

Symptoms of hypomagnesemia

The low blood level of magnesium is commonly referred to as hypomagnesemia.

Hypomagnesemia is defined as a serum magnesium level less than 1.8 mg/dL (< 0.74 mmol/L) (Ref)

The symptoms of decreased magnesium levels are non-specific. The symptoms commonly overlap with symptoms of other electrolyte deficiencies. In addition, many patients with hypomagnesemia remain asymptomatic.

As magnesium deficiency is usually secondary to other diseases or drugs, thus, the features of the primary disease process may mask the symptoms of magnesium deficiency.

In fact, the signs and symptoms of magnesium deficiency are usually not seen until serum magnesium decreases to 0.5 mmol/L (1.2 mg/dL) or low (Ref).

The severity of symptoms and signs of hypomagnesemia depends on the degree of magnesium depletion and rate of magnesium decrease. 

Hypomagnesemia could affect different systems including

  • The neuromuscular system includes neuromuscular hyperexcitability that may range from tremors, fasciculation, and tetany to convulsions
  • Neuropsychiatric disturbances including apathy, delirium, and even coma
  • Neurological disorders such as headache, seizures, and stock
  • The cardiovascular system
  • The renal system 
  • The gastrointestinal system

What are the 10 signs of low magnesium blood level?

Symptoms of hypomagnesemia are classified into symptoms related to mild deficiency, and symptoms related to severe magnesium deficiency.

Here are the most common 10 signs of low magnesium blood level.

  • Symptoms of mild magnesium deficiency:
    • Nausea
    • Vomiting 
    • Loss of appetite
    • General fatigue
    • Muscle weakness
  • Symptoms of severe magnesium deficiency:
    • Tingling
    • Muscle spasms and cramps
    • Seizures 
    • Cardiac arrhythmia
    • Coronary spasms

Hypomagnesemia can potentially cause fatal complications including ventricular arrhythmia, coronary artery spasm, and sudden death (Ref)

Foods rich in magnesium:

  • Adequate magnesium intake in your diet could effectively protect you from developing hypomagnesemia. 
  • The recommended dietary allowance for magnesium for adult men is 400-420 mg per day. 
  • The dietary allowance for adult women is 310-320 mg per day
  • Generally, magnesium is commonly found t in greens, nuts, dry beans, whole grains, seeds, and wheat germ.

Here is a list of the most common magnesium-rich foods

  • Almond
  • Spanish
  • Broccoli   
  • Dark chocolate 
  • Avocado
  • Potatoes
  • Apple
  • Carrot 
  • Rice 
  • Milk
  • Salamon
  • Banana 
  • Chicken breast
  • Beef 

Symptoms of Hypokalemia:

The low blood level of potassium is commonly known as hypokalemia.

Not all patients with low potassium levels have symptoms. Symptoms because of hypokalemia often do not occur with serum potassium concentrations above 2.5 mmol/l (Ref).

When your potassium blood level decreases below 2.5 mmol/l symptoms of hypokalemia are observed.

As potassium is an essential element in maintaining the normal function of many organs and systems in your body, thus, low potassium blood level could lead to symptoms related to your cardiovascular system, skeletal muscle, nervous system, and respiratory system (Ref).

The most common symptoms associated with low potassium levels include the following 

  • Nervous system
    • Leg cramps
    • Weakness and paresis
    • Ascending paralysis
  • Skeletal muscle system
    • Muscle weakness
    • Muscle pain, and cramps
    • Muscle necrosis (When potassium serum concentrations are less than 2.0 mmol per liter
    • Tangling and numbness
  • Gastrointestinal system
    • Constipation or intestinal paralysis
  • Cardiovascular system:
    • Cardiac arrhythmias
    • Heart failure
    • Heart palpitations
  • Respiratory failure

Symptoms can be classified into two categories mild and severe symptoms according to the level of potassium deficiency

  • Symptoms of mild potassium deficiency:
  • May not cause symptoms, however, the following symptoms could result:
    • Constipation
    • Heart palpitations
    • Fatigue
    • Muscle weakness and spasm
    • Tangling and numbness
  • Symptoms of severe potassium deficiency:
    • Muscle cramps
    • Muscle twitches
    • Severe muscle weakness (paralysis)
    • Lightheadedness or faintness.
    • Cardiac arrhythmias
    • Excessive urination
    • Excessive thirst
    • Hypotension (low blood pressure)

Recently, several studies reported the prevalence of hypokalemia among patients with COVID-19 (Ref)

Foods rich in potassium:

Potassium is widely available in different foods. Fruits, starchy vegetables, and leafy greens are the most common foods rich in potassium.

Here is a list of foods rich in potassium   

  • Dried figs
  • Seaweeds
  • Molasses
  • Dried fruits (dates, prunes, raisins, apricots)
  • Nuts
  • Avocado
  • Bran cereals
  • Lima beans
  • Wheat germ
  • Vegetables
  • Spanish
  • Tomatoes
  • Broccoli  
  • winter squash (acorn, butternut)
  • Carrots
  • Beets
  • Beet greens
  • Potatoes
  • Fruits (kiwi, orange, mangos, banana, cantaloup, Coconut water
  • Meat (pork, veal, lamb, steak, ground beef)
  • Chicken 
  • Salamon 
  • Dairy milk
  • Plant milk (soya and almond milk)
  • Yogurt 
  • Bran.
  • Dark leafy greens.
  • Fish.


  • Low magnesium blood levels (hypomagnesemia), and low potassium levels (Hypokalemia) are commonly associated with symptoms related to muscles contraction, nervous system, cardiovascular system, and gastrointestinal system
  • Vegetables and fruits are the most common food rich in magnesium and potassium

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