Magnesium in Health

Magnesium is an essential macromineral, and the role played by magnesium ions in optimal nutrition is becoming increasingly evident. A deficiency of magnesium is not uncommon, and low intakes of magnesium have been becoming increasingly frequent in Western nations, where the diet tends not to contain magnesium rich foods. In cases of magnesium deficiency, supplements can be beneficial, and magnesium is generally cheap and relatively well absorbed. One of the most common symptoms of low magnesium intake is muscle tremors and twitches. Serious cases of magnesium deficiency can result in myocardial infarction. Magnesium is used in the body as the magnesium ion, and in this form magnesium can bind to cell membranes due to the negatively charged proteins within the membranes. This effect provides stability to membranes, and these membrane stabilising effects may be one of the most physiologically important functions of magnesium in humans. It is though that once bound to the membranes, the positive charge on the magnesium ion is able to electrically stabilise the membrane through interaction with proteins as well as by inhibiting phospholipase A2, an enzyme that can cause cleavage of the fatty acids from phosphates in phospholipids present in the membranes.  

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Saris, N.E.L., Mervaala, E., Karppanen, H., Khawaja, J.A. and Lewenstam, A. 2000. Magnesium: an update on physiological, clinical and analytical aspects. Clinica Chimica Acta. 294(1-2): 1-26

About Robert Barrington

Robert Barrington is a writer, nutritionist, lecturer and philosopher.
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