Magnesium is exactly what your body needs
The essential (macro) mineral magnesium is extremely important for health. Magnesium is the fourth largest mineral in the body in quantity, after calcium, potassium and sodium. The body contains approximately 21 to 28 grams of magnesium; 60% of it is built into bone tissue and teeth; 20% is in muscle, 20% in other soft tissues and liver, less than 1% is circulating in the blood. 99% of all magnesium is contained in cells (intracellular) or in bone tissue and 1% in the extracellular space. Insufficient dietary intake of magnesium leads to health problems and increases the risk of a range of chronic diseases including osteoporosis, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. As in other (industrialized) countries, the diet of many Dutch people contains less magnesium than is recommended.
Central role in energy metabolism and cell processes
In order to function, body cells have energy-rich ATP molecules (adenosine triphosphate) at their disposal. ATP initiates countless biochemical reactions by releasing energy stored in the tail of the molecule made up of three phosphate groups. This creates ADP or AMP (by splitting off 1 or 2 phosphate groups, respectively). ADP and AMP are then recycled into ATP, a process that happens thousands of times a day. The magnesium (Mg2+) bound to ATP is essential to be able to split ATP so that energy can be released. More than 300 enzymes require magnesium as a cofactor, including all enzymes that make or consume ATP and enzymes involved in the synthesis of DNA, RNA, proteins, lipids, antioxidants (including glutathione), immunoglobulins, and prostaglandins, among others.
Other functions of magnesium
- Magnesium is essential for the synthesis and activity of 'second messengers' such as cAMP (cyclic adenosine monophosphate), which are responsible for the intracellular transfer of signals from, for example, hormones and neurotransmitters that bind to the cell surface. This allows communication between cells.
- Magnesium plays a role in cell cycle and cell apoptosis.
- Magnesium stabilizes cell structures such as DNA, RNA, cell membranes and ribosomes.
- Magnesium is involved in the regulation of calcium, potassium and sodium homeostasis (electrolyte balance) by activating ATP/ATPase pumps (sodium-potassium, sodium-calcium, sodium-magnesium and calcium-magnesium pumps) that ensure the active transport of electrolytes along determine the cell membrane and also the membrane potential (electrical voltage across the membrane).
- Magnesium is a physiological calcium channel blocker. Magnesium promotes muscle relaxation, while calcium (along with potassium) ensures muscle contraction (skeletal muscle, heart muscle, smooth muscle). Magnesium calms and calcium excites nerve cells. Magnesium inhibits blood clotting, while calcium activates it. The concentration of magnesium is higher intracellularly than extracellularly; with calcium this is reversed. The magnesium present in cells is important for cell metabolism, cell communication, regulation of body temperature, electrolyte balance, muscle contraction, nerve impulse transmission, heart rhythm, blood pressure regulation, immune system, endocrine system and blood glucose regulation. The magnesium stored in bone tissue acts as a magnesium reservoir and partly determines the quality of bone tissue; while calcium makes bone tissue hard, magnesium provides some flexibility so that bones break less quickly.