Magnesium – Functions, Food Sources, Deficiency

The amount of magnesium in the body is much smaller than that of calcium and phosphorus i.e. about 20-35 g in the adult body. Of this about 60% are carbonates and phosphates at the surface of the bones. Most of the remaining magnesium is within the cells.


  1. It is required for numerous biological reactions involving the release of energy
  2. It is a constituent of bone. It is involved in bone mineralization.
  3. It is also essential for normal metabolism of calcium and phosphorus.
  4. Its presence in the extracellular fluids regulates the transmission of nerve impulses.
  5. It activates the enzyme responsible for breakdown of glycogen.

Food Sources

Dairy products excluding butter provide enough magnesium. Flour and cereal products, dry beans, soyabeans, peas and nuts are good sources of magnesium. Green leafy vegetables are excellent sources because magnesium is a part of chlorophyll.


Under normal conditions of health and food intake magnesium deficiency is not likely to occur. A deficiency of it may result from malabsorption syndrome, chronic alcoholism, toxemia of pregnancy or after intake of diuretics. Deficiency of magnesium results in neuromuscular irritability, tetenicconvulsions, twitching, tremors and convulsions. In excess, it results in extreme thirst, excessive heat in the body, decrease in neuromuscular movements.

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