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What does magnesium do?

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Magnesium plays a role in over 300 enzyme systems that regulate biochemical reactions in the body, including muscle and nerve function, protein synthesis, blood pressure regulation and blood glucose control, according to the National Institutes of Health. It also plays a role in the structural development of bones, energy production and the synthesis of DNA. Magnesium is present in the bones, blood and soft tissues of humans.

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According to the NIH, the adult body contains about 25 grams of magnesium. Only 1 percent of this magnesium is found in the blood, and here, the magnesium is kept at a relatively constant level to maintain body function. The bones hold 50 to 60 percent of the body's magnesium, and soft tissues contain the remaining magnesium. Because blood levels of magnesium carry little relevance to the storage of magnesium in the bones and soft tissues, the most readily available test, the blood serum magnesium concentration test, is not widely used to test for deficiency. Magnesium-loading tests or the assessment of magnesium in erythrocytes, saliva and urine are more accurate measures for magnesium in the body.

The NIH states that magnesium is widely available in plant and animal foods. Green leafy vegetables, nuts, legumes, seeds and whole grains are good sources of magnesium in the diet. Many fiber-containing foods contain magnesium in addition to certain fortified processed foods.

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