Magnesium is the fourth most common mineral in the human body after calcium, potassium and sodium. Magnesium must be continuously replenished through foods and water intake because it is not synthesizable. Chronic inadequate intake of magnesium over long period of time can manifest as latent magnesium deficiency with symptoms such as muscle weakness, cramps, fatigue, neurological and cardiovascular dysfunctions, reduced bone mineralization and strength. Reports published by WHO have estimated that ~two thirds of Americans and French have magnesium intake below the recommended amounts but only a small numbers are overtly depleted. The authorities in Finland were concerned of the negative impact of geochemical magnesium deficiency in the eastern region of Finland and its adverse effect on heart health. A program was initiated to increase magnesium intake though supplementation; this has contributed to progressive fall of death rate due to heart-related issues. Restoring and sustaining adequate magnesium store are easy and inexpensive.
Some 40% of total body magnesium is intracellular and ~60% in bone and teeth with less than 1% in circulation. Intracellular magnesium deficiency may or may not be reflected as overt hypomagnesaemia making measurement of plasma/serum magnesium potentially misleading when “normal” plasma/serum concentration is “interpreted” to exclude deficiency.
In this review, the role of magnesium at cellular level, its homeostasis and major clinical conditions associated with magnesium deficiency in adults will be briefly discussed. Assessment of magnesium status and its potential deficiency by examining individual’s “modus vivendi” and/or the use of laboratory tests will be highlighted. Finally, various therapeutic modalities and monitoring of treatment will be summarized.