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What Does Magnesium Do In the Body?


What does magnesium do in the body?  If you don’t get enough you could experience a variety of complaints including restless leg syndrome and seizures. Discover magnesium’s important role in the body’s normal functioning.

Magnesium’s Role

Magnesium is the fourth most prevalent mineral in the body and a key component in more than 300 biochemical reactions. Approximately 60 percent of the magnesium in the body is found in the bone mass, with the bulk of the rest found in the organs. Only one percent is found in the blood stream at any given time, but the body is always trying to supply magnesium to the areas of the body where it is needed through the blood. Magnesium plays vital roles in the formation of bone, healthy muscle and nerve function, maintaining normal heart rhythms, and supporting the immune system. Magnesium also seems to be a key ingredient in regulating blood sugar levels and blood pressure.

Magnesium Deficiency

While most people in the industrialized world don’t consume their daily recommended requirement of magnesium, clinical magnesium deficiency is unusual outside the developing nations. Short-term magnesium deficiency can occur from any illness that causes vomiting or diarrhea. Chronic severe long-term magnesium deficiency is most often caused by diseases that impact the body’s ability to absorb nutrition, like Crohn’s disease and celiac disease, or kidney impairment that causes the body to excrete too much magnesium. Alcoholics who replace a large portion of their food calories with alcohol are also at risk for magnesium deficiency. The first signs of magnesium deficiency include anorexia, nausea or vomiting, muscle weakness, and fatigue. If the situation isn’t resolved, symptoms can progress to restless leg syndrome, muscle spasms and cramps, seizures, personality changes, and even abnormal heart rhythms and coronary spasms.

How Much Do You Need?

Healthy adults should consume between 270 and 400 mg of magnesium per day, depending on weight. Green leafy vegetables are one of the richest sources of magnesium, because magnesium is one of the main components of the chlorophyll molecule that allows plants to turn sunlight into useable energy and also gives green plants their color. Legumes, nuts, seeds, and whole grains are also great sources of magnesium. Halibut is one of the best sources of magnesium, with over 30 mg per ounce.



Expert Opinion

Quote: “Magnesium regulates more than 325 enzymes in the body, the most important of which produce, transport, store, and utilize energy. Many aspects of cell metabolism are regulated by magnesium, such as DNA and RNA synthesis cell growth.”

Source:  Dean, Carolyn. The Magnesium Miracle: Discover the Essential Nutrient That Will Lower the Risk of Heart Disease, Prevent Stroke and Obesity, Treat Diabetes, and Improve Mood and Memory.

Ballantine books trade pbk. ed. New York: Ballantine Books, 2007. Print



“Chapter 14. Magnesium.” FAO: FAO Home. N.p., n.d. Web. 1 July 2010.

Magnesium. (n.d.). University of Maryland Medical Center. Retrieved July 1, 2010, from

“Magnesium.” Office of Dietary Supplements – HOME. N.p., n.d. Web. 1 July 2010.

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