Magnesium, how it Functions in the Body

Understanding Ionic Magnesium and the Body’s Chemistry 

Magnesium an abundant element inside human cells and the fourth most abundant positively charged ion mineral in the human body. (1), (2) Within the body’s cells, it serves literally hundreds of functions. 

In nature, magnesium can be found in many different forms, bonded with other atoms, such as: 

  • Magnesium chloride, found naturally in the sea 
  • Magnesite, the insoluble rock salt also known as magnesium carbonate 
  • in plant matter, as the central element in chlorophyll 

The average human body contains about 25 grams of magnesium, one of the six essential minerals that must be supplied in the diet. 

One readily accessible and easily absorbed form of magnesium is magnesium chloride. Because it is soluble in water, magnesium chloride readily dissociates, increasing rate of absorption.

All organic matter—plants, animals, and the human body—is made up of combinations of elements such as such as oxygen, carbon, and hydrogen. 

These tiny building blocks join to create the compounds that make up our: 

  • Tissues 
  • Bodily fluids 
  • Microscopic elements that regulate the body’s function. 

Oxygen, carbon, hydrogen and nitrogen form the basis of compounds found in all living matter. Beyond compounds built from these four most common elements, the rest of the body’s contents is made up of minerals. 

Magnesium is a macro-mineral, which, unlike trace minerals, is needed by the body in large amounts. Calcium, sodium, and potassium are also macro-minerals. The average human body contains about 25 grams of magnesium, one of the six essential minerals that must be supplied in the diet. 

Once magnesium enters the body through food, supplements, or topical applications, it is broken down and released to form independent magnesium atoms, or “ions”. In its ionic form, magnesium has a positive charge, commonly noted as Mg2+. 

Magnesium cations function as a part of the structure of the body through their presence in bone. But arguably more important is their function as cell regulators in hundreds of chemical reactions throughout the body. 


1. Firoz M, Graber M. Bioavailability of US commercial magnesium preparations. Magnesium Research. 2001; 14: 257-62. 

2. Dean C. The Magnesium Miracle. New York: Ballantine Books; 2007.

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