Magnesium is element number 12 on the Periodic Table Chart. By itself it can be very reactive with water and acids. However in our bodies it is essential for more than 300 chemical reactions and ultimately our survival.
Magnesium was first isolated in 1808 by Sir Humphry Davy, who evaporated the mercury from a mixture of moist magnesia and mercuric oxide. The name ‘magnesium’ comes from Magnesia, a district of Thessaly (Greece) where the mineral magnesia alba was first found.
Magnesium is the eighth-most abundant element on earth. Its oxide is the second most abundant compound found in the earth’s crust. For every cubic kilometer of seawater, there are about 1.3 billion kilograms of magnesium. Magnesium weighs the least out of all the metallic elements. We find this metal ion the center of every chlorophyll molecule. So, it is an essential element for photosynthesis.
How Much Magnesium?
For our biology students who may be reading this article, remember the Krebs Cycle? Well, as you know, ATP (adenosine triphosphate), is the main source of energy in the cells of our body. But interesting enough, for ATP to be biologically active it must, guess what, first bind to a magnesium ion. Boring but essential.
Proper muscle and nerve function require normal magnesium levels. Magnesium is necessary for us to regulate our blood pressure by relaxing the muscles in the walls of blood vessels thus lowering the blood pressure. In some recent studies, people who had the highest blood serum levels of magnesium were less likely to suffer from sudden cardiac death than those who had the lowest blood serum levels of this element.
So what should be the dose of a magnesium supplement? Experts recommend taking no more than 350 milligrams of this water-soluble element per day. Too much magnesium can cause symptoms of nausea, muscle cramps, loose stool and nausea. Adequate magnesium intake is associated with higher bone density in both men and women. Women who have osteoporosis have lower levels of magnesium than those who do not have the condition, so supplements are recommended.
Where to Find the Magnesium You Need
The elderly among us are more likely to suffer from low magnesium levels because magnesium absorption decreases with age and our kidneys excrete more of the mineral as we get older.
Foods rich in magnesium include nuts and seeds such as pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, and flax seeds. Avocado, spinach, kale, broccoli, carrots and soy products are also all great sources of dietary magnesium.
It is however very important to ask your health care provider before taking a magnesium supplement. Magnesium supplements can benefits you if you need them, but supplements can sometimes cause side effects and may potentially interact with other medications that you may be prescribed. Make sure your doctor has a complete list of all medications and also supplements that you are taking.
So there you have it. A boring but essential element needed for our survival.