Magnesium Toxicity

Magnesium Toxicity: Overview

Dietary magnesium very rarely poses a health risk, but very high doses of magnesium supplements, which may be added to laxatives for example, can promote adverse effects such as diarrhea.  The kidneys are efficient at excreting excess magnesium and it is unlikely that the mineral will accumulate to toxic levels.

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The Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences has established a tolerable upper intake level (UL) for supplementary magnesium for adolescents and adults at 350mg daily.


As intake increases above the UL, the risk of adverse effects increases.  In extreme cases, this can mean coma or even death.

Signs, symptoms & indicators of Magnesium Toxicity:

Lab Values - Common

Low systolic blood pressure

Extremely low blood pressure is a sign of possible magnesium overload.

Symptoms - Bowel Movements

Symptoms - Cardiovascular

Symptoms - Food - General

Symptoms - Gas-Int - General

Symptoms - Mind - General

Symptoms - Muscular

Specific/severe muscle weakness

Magnesium overload can depress the central nervous system, causing muscle weakness, lethargy, sleepiness, hyperexcitability, mental status changes, nausea, appetite loss, extremely low blood pressure, and irregular heartbeat.

Symptoms - Respiratory

Symptoms - Sleep

Occasional/regular/frequent drowsiness

Sleepiness is a sign of magnesium overload.

Conditions that suggest Magnesium Toxicity:


Calcium Requirement

Calcium and magnesium levels need to be maintained in balance since they have an antagonistic relationship.  An excess of one implies a need for the other to maintain balance.



The symptoms of magnesium toxicity include central nervous system depression, muscle weakness, fatigue and sleepiness.

Risk factors for Magnesium Toxicity:

Supplements, Medications, Drugs

Regular/daily/excessive osmotic laxative use

Very large doses of laxatives have been associated with magnesium toxicity, even with normal kidney function.

Magnesium-based antacid use

Magnesium toxicity can come as a result of taking magnesium-containing laxatives and antacids.

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Magnesium Toxicity suggests the following may be present:

Organ Health

Chronic Renal Insufficiency

High levels of magnesium can develop in patients with kidney failure and in elderly people whose kidney functions are reduced.  This is especially true when supplementing with magnesium.  Kidney disease, rather than diet, is the usual cause of magnesium overload, because the kidneys lose the ability to remove excess magnesium.

Magnesium Toxicity can lead to:


Magnesium Toxicity could instead be:


Recommendations for Magnesium Toxicity:


Not recommended
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Weak or unproven link: may be a sign or symptom of; may suggest; may increase risk of; is very occasionally misdiagnosed as
Weak or unproven link:
may be a sign or symptom of; may suggest; may increase risk of; is very occasionally misdiagnosed as
Strong or generally accepted link: often suggests
Strong or generally accepted link:
often suggests
Definite or direct link: usually leads to
Definite or direct link:
usually leads to
Should be avoided: is NOT recommended for
Should be avoided:
is NOT recommended for
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