Magnesium Factoids

• Magnesium is the chemical element with the symbol Mg. It gets its name from the Greek city, Magnesia due to the large deposits found there of magnesium carbonate, a magnesium salt with laxative properties.

• Magnesium all by itself is highly flammable, but combining it with aluminum results in a strong, lightweight metallic alloy that is widely used industrially. Many products, including drink cans and the bodies of automobiles are made from alloys combining magnesium with aluminum.

• Magnesium is found in chlorophyll, the green pigment that plants, when exposed to sunlight, use to produce energy.

• Approximately 80% of the world’s supply of magnesium is produced in China.

• All together, the total amount of magnesium in the average human body is between 1 and 2 tablespoons. That amount makes magnesium the 4th most abundant mineral in the body and second only to potassium in the cells. Both the brain and heart contain significant amounts of magnesium. Only 1% of all of the magnesium in the body is found in extracellular fluids.

• The human body cannot manufacture any magnesium on its own. We are completely dependent on the magnesium ingested in the diet or dietary supplements to meet our body’s needs for this vital mineral.

• Magnesium complements the action of calcium in regulating neuromuscular activity. While calcium acts as a stimulant, facilitating muscle contraction, magnesium acts as a relaxant. Magnesium also counteracts calcium by helping to prevent unwanted blood clots from forming. Maintaining a proper 2 to 1 ratio of calcium to magnesium in the blood is essential for normal muscle and cardiovascular functioning.

• Because of the tranquilizing effect magnesium has on muscles, it is referred to as the “anti-stress” or “calming” mineral.

• Magnesium is also important in bone, brain, and digestive health. Magnesium contributes to bone density and slows down the demineralization process that leads to osteoporosis. The brain cells need magnesium for normal learning and memory to take place. In addition, more than 300 enzymes involved in the metabolism of food depend on magnesium, and for this reason, magnesium is an ingredient in many common over-the-counter remedies for occasional indigestion or diarrhea.
• Some of the foods that are especially rich in magnesium include nuts, peanut butter, sunflower or sesame seeds, dark green leafy vegetables, peas and corn, soy foods, whole grain breads and cereals, brown rice, baked potato skin, and milk and other dairy products.

• About 40 to 50% of consumed magnesium is usually absorbed by the body. However, many factors influence absorption, and the rate can vary from as little as 25% to as much as 75%. Acids, vitamin D, protein, and complex carbohydrates all facilitate magnesium absorption.

• Because of the high degree of interdependence between magnesium and other essential nutrients (vitamin D, calcium, and potassium, for example), a deficiency in magnesium is likely to be accompanied by a deficiency in these other nutrients also. Low levels of magnesium in the body can contribute to diabetes, heart disease, metabolic syndrome, osteoporosis, and disturbed sleep.