The magnesium is a chemical element located in Group IIA, family of alkaline earth metals. Its atomic properties are:

  • Atomic number (Z): 12, it is its position in the periodic table.
  • Atomic mass: 305 g/mol.
  • Valencia or oxidation state: +2. This means that it can receive 2 electrons by interacting with other chemical elements.

It is one of the most abundant elements in the earth’s crust , constituting approximately two percent of its composition.

Due to its valence of +2, it is highly reactive , which is why it is not found in its pure state in nature, but in combination with other chemical elements, such as chlorine and bromine halogens.

Its main natural forms are magnesium salts, being highly oxidizable with other substances to combine with them. It is present in seawater, as the third most abundant element , following sodium and chlorine.

Magnesium characteristics

In its pure or elemental state, magnesium is a light, silvery-white , moderately strong metal . It is very easy for it to rust . When it comes into contact with oxygen, it forms a thin layer of magnesium oxide (MgO) that protects it from oxidation advancing into the material.

Magnesium is a primary regulator , therefore it acts in numerous metabolic chemical reactions . It is an essential chemical element for life, so the body needs a constant supply of it.

Foods that contain it in good quantity are commonly consumed. In the event of a deficit, commercial supplements or supplements are used to provide it.

What is magnesium for?

Magnesium has a multitude of applications and utilities that are concentrated in the fields of industry and the human body.

Magnesium is used to:

  • Metallurgical industry
  • Participate in biochemical reactions
  • Control heartburn
  • Intervene in the secretion of hormones
  • Activation of liver functions
  • Synthesis of proteins and enzymes
  • Support muscle function
  • Strengthen the cardiovascular system
  • Help the immune system
  • Intervene in bone formation
  • Help the absorption of some vitamins
  • Assist in various brain and nerve functions
  • Regulate organic electrical activities

In the metallurgical industry

In the metallurgical industry , magnesium is used thanks to its chemical and physical properties, being included in combinations with other metals such as aluminum, zirconium, zinc and rare earths, mainly.

Magnesium has properties such as:

  • Low density , which makes it very light
  • Resistance to corrosion , thanks to a layer of magnesium oxide produced in contact with ambient air

It is for both that it is made to participate in alloys. In its pure state, it is excessively brittle, with little resistance to heat and cold.

The presence of aluminum and magnesium alloys stands out , in which the physical properties of these and other elements are combined, resulting in a material with greater strength, lightness and durability to form metallic structures. Examples of products made from these alloys are magnesium wheels for automobiles.

In biochemical reactions

More than three hundred biochemical reactions are known in the human organism in which the element magnesium intervenes, so it must be ingested in foods that provide it, for an integral functioning of the organism .

It is also usually ingested when deficiency occurs, through food supplements , in tablets or pills. In this way, a stable amount of magnesium is achieved in the body to continue achieving an adequate behavior of biochemical reactions and preventing conditions.

Magnesium absorption is favored by the presence of vitamin D . On the other hand, elements such as zinc or boron delay or prevent this absorption in the body.

To control heartburn

Magnesium is used to combat excessive stomach acidity , taking it as an antacid. Magnesium fulfills this function in the form of a chemical compound called magnesium hydroxide, whose formula is Mg (OH) 2 . This is marketed as ” milk of magnesia .”

To intervene in the secretion of hormones

Magnesium participates by intervening in the synthesis of various hormones produced by the body. It activates the mobility of sperm and is part of the sperm fluid.

Helps to activate liver functions

Magnesium takes part in the activation of several liver functions, including an increase in the secretion of bile fluid , helping to eliminate fats and other toxic residues in the liver.

Synthesis of proteins and enzymes and magnesium

Magnesium is necessary in the formation of numerous enzymes, it intervenes both in the constitution of organic molecules and in the processes of protein synthesis in general, and in particular in the production of enzymes.

Magnesium is present in various foods, such as oilseeds, for example.

Support muscle function

Magnesium favors the breakdown of glucose molecules for absorption into muscle cells. This is how the creation of Adenosine-Triphosphate or ATP is achieved , an energetic molecule par excellence that allows all work.

Magnesium influences a greater secretion of the hormone insulin , being a determining factor in muscle development. Thanks to this, last, the consumption of foods with magnesium is highly recommended in cases of diabetic patients .

Magnesium promotes muscle flexibility by relaxing the fibers , since it acts together with calcium, intervening in neuronal and muscular excitability, acting as a chemical blocker. As long as there is enough magnesium, calcium cannot enter nerve cells and activate nerves, allowing muscle to relax.

Thus the consumption of magnesium is recommended in case of recurrent cramps . In its deficit, there is a greater accumulation of lactic acid, causing muscle stiffness and pain.

Helps the cardiovascular system

Magnesium is involved in the breakdown of thrombi caused by cholesterol deposits in the arteries , which is why it helps the circulatory system and has protective effects on the heart. In addition, it has been shown to benefit blood pressure, contributing to the prevention of other circulatory conditions, such as strokes.

Magnesium is antihypoxic (combats insufficient oxygen in the blood), anti-ischemic , protects blood vessel walls, is vasodilator , antithrombotic , stabilizes erythrocytes (red blood cells) and promotes the production of leukocytes (white blood cells) .

Helps the immune system

It intervenes in the process of the formation of antibodies, contributing to the body’s defenses against invasive and infectious agents.

Intervenes in bone formations

Magnesium has a fixing quality that influences the sedimentation of calcium in the bones , which is why it is vital for its formation and for the strengthening of teeth. Magnesium is recommended for cases of osteoporosis, due to ageWalnuts, pistachios, peanuts, pine nuts, dried figs and dates among other foods, are rich sources of magnesium.

Helps absorption of vitamins

Studies have shown that the element magnesium is an agent that helps in the absorption of several vitamins, especially those of the B complex. This is the case of pyridoxine, vitamin B6 . Together with magnesium, the latter contributes to the optimal functioning of the nervous system.

Helps in various brain and nerve functions

Among the brain functions that magnesium influences is the good regulation of sleep, since in cases of magnesium deficiency in the body, balance is lost in sleep cycles. Melatonin, a sleep hormone, is disturbed when magnesium is lacking in the body.

Another function in which magnesium helps balance in the body is related to stress hormones and nervous tension, such as cortisol ; therefore regular consumption of magnesium levels stress.

Magnesium is essential for the nervous system, since it acts in the transmission of nerve impulses. In addition, it has a slight sedative action on the central nervous system.

Regulate organic electrical activities

Magnesium works by regulating various metabolic electrical activities. Among them are:

  • The secretion and stability of serotonin , relaxing the nervous system, improving the mood of patients with depression and of people in general.
  • By ionizing easily, magnesium helps stabilize the body’s pH , reducing the concentration of lactic acid, and therefore helping the homeostatic acid-base balance with which the body operates.
  • It is an essential electrolyte (in addition to sodium, potassium, chlorine, phosphate, sulfate and others) that transmits electrical impulses at the cellular level in the body.

What if there is a magnesium deficiency?

When magnesium is scarce in the body, symptoms such as:

  • Bad memory
  • Difficult retention of knowledge
  • Muscle spasms
  • Cramps
  • Muscle stiffness and pain

Magnesium-containing foods

Foods that contain magnesium include nuts, legumes and dairy products mainly.

Sunflower seeds, wheat, cocoa, whole wheat flour, walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, soybeans, brewer’s yeast, snails, wheat germ, parsley, sausage, chestnuts, peanuts, chickpeas, pistachios, pine nuts, cow’s milk, squid , shrimp, chocolate, dried figs, dates, brown rice, spinach, whole wheat bread, peas (also called peas), milk chocolate, and various nuts.

Samantha Robson
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Dr. Samantha Robson ( CRN: 0510146-5) is a nutritionist and website content reviewer related to her area of ​​expertise. With a postgraduate degree in Nutrition from The University of Arizona, she is a specialist in Sports Nutrition from Oxford University and is also a member of the International Society of Sports Nutrition.

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