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Does a Magnesium Deficiency Cause Seizures?

by
author image Lynne Sheldon
Lynne Sheldon has over 12 years of dance experience, both in studios and performance groups. She is an avid runner and has studied several types of yoga. Sheldon now works as a freelance writer, editor and book reviewer. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and art history from Boston University and recently completed her Master of Fine Arts in writing from Pacific University.
Does a Magnesium Deficiency Cause Seizures?
An intestinal illness can cause you to become deficient in magnesium. Photo Credit Brand X Pictures/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images

Seizures occur when there is abnormal electrical activity in your brain. They can have multiple causes, one of which is a magnesium deficiency. A true deficiency in this mineral is rare, but certain medical conditions can upset your body's balance of magnesium and lead to adverse effects, such as seizures. Contact your doctor if you are concerned about your magnesium intake or if you are experiencing seizures.

Risks for a Magnesium Deficiency

A magnesium deficiency typically has contributing factors and is not usually the result of low dietary intake of this mineral, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. For example, if you contract an intestinal illness that causes diarrhea or vomiting, this can temporarily lower your magnesium blood levels and cause you to become deficient. Similarly, having a gastrointestinal condition like irritable bowel syndrome or other diseases like diabetes, hypothyroidism or pancreatitis can lead to a deficiency. Finally, taking diuretics or consuming too much alcohol, salt, coffee or soda can cause a deficiency, as can sweating excessively, having heavy menstrual periods or being stressed for a prolonged period.

Symptoms of a Deficiency

According to both MedlinePlus and the University of Maryland Medical Center, a magnesium deficiency has many symptoms, aside from seizures. If you become deficient in this mineral, you may also experience feelings of apathy, confusion, irritability or anxiety or have trouble sleeping. You may become nauseated, have low blood pressure, develop muscle spasms, become weak or fatigued or notice a reduced ability to learn. Finally, if the deficiency becomes severe, you may experience tingling, delirium, numbness or hallucinations.

Other Causes of Seizures

Seizures come in different types and have different causes. While they can result from a magnesium deficiency, they may also arise from your consumption of some medications or from a high fever, head injury or certain diseases, according to MedlinePlus. If your seizures are recurring, this may be due to a brain disorder such as epilepsy. Seek medical attention if you experience seizures of any kind or length; it is a medical emergency if someone has a seizure that lasts longer than five minutes or if the person does not wake up between seizures.

RDA and Additional Considerations

According to MedlinePlus, adult men need between 400 and 420 mg of magnesium each day, and women need between 310 and 320 mg. You can get this from foods like leafy green vegetables, bananas, cashews, tofu and brown rice. If you have trouble meeting your magnesium needs through diet or have a condition that depletes magnesium, ask your doctor about supplements. The recommended dietary allowance for this mineral will also increase if you are an athlete, pregnant or recovering from an illness or surgery, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center.

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