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Magnesium is an element with a chemical symbol of Mg and an atomic number of 12. It is the seventh most abundant element on Earth. In the human body, Magnesium is needed in many metabolic processes. 50% of Magnesium found in the body is in the bones and teeth. The other half is found in the delicate tissues and organs of the body. Magnesium as an element is strong but may physically appear as a light weight material. It is highly flammable and is very difficult to extinguish when lighted. In the human body, Magnesium is involved in 300 chemical reactions from normal nerve function to maintaining a healthy immune system.
History and Origin
The name Magnesium comes from a district in the country of Greece which is called Magnesia. Magnesium is related to magnetite and manganese which is also believed to have originated from this area in Greece as well. The metal Magnesium was first produced by Sir Humphry Davy in 1808 in England using the process of electrolysis of a mixture of Magnesia and mercury oxide producing the metal.
Magnesium was used in ancient times as an ingredient for die-casting. It was combined with zinc for the manufacture of iron and steel. In early times, Magnesium was fairly used as a metal, it was not known as an element that was beneficial for a person’s health at all.
Magnesium in modern times has been recognized as an essential mineral in the overall function of the muscular and nervous system. It is needed for a healthy immune system for the body to fight off infections and many other types of illnesses. There is also evidence that Magnesium may also help regulate the body’s blood sugar levels promoting normal blood pressure and also for effective protein synthesis. Magnesium is also an essential element in pregnancy since it reduces the risk of osteoporosis in women and also increases the tolerance to pain ensuring a smooth delivery of the baby during labor. Magnesium is also a treatment for constipation since it has a laxative effect. It has a water-attracting property that helps soften stools for easy removal and passage.
The element is also important in maintaining a healthy cardiovascular system, decreasing the possibility of suffering from a heart attack. Magnesium may be found in many foods. It is found in green leafy vegetables, whole grains, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, artichokes, peanuts, wheat flour and many other types of foods. Magnesium is absorbed in the small intestines and is excreted to the kidneys but there are some diseases that hinder the excretion and also the absorption of Magnesium that may cause several metabolic disorders.
There are no side effects to taking Magnesium supplements and eating foods high in this element. Taking excessive Magnesium however can cause diarrhea because this element is often found in laxative preparations. People with kidney diseases must consult a doctor regarding the use of Magnesium supplements since it can cause adverse effects if taken with their current medication.