If you were also tormented at school by your chemistry teachers with the memorization of the periodic table, you certainly came into contact with the abbreviation Mg. But what exactly is behind it?
We take a long way and first explain to you what it all has to do with the element magnesium. Then we look at what happens to magnesium in our bodies and why we need it to survive.
So first, some chemistry:
Mg stands for the chemical element
. In the periodic table it is quite high up with the atomic number 12 and belongs there to the group of alkaline earth metals.
The name of this group comes from the fact that it is located between the alkali metals and earth metals. Like the other alkaline earth metals, magnesium shares some of its chemical properties with members of both neighboring groups.
On the one hand, magnesium is difficult to soluble in water and, on the other hand, it is capable of forming strong bases. Thus, it also has electrolytic properties and is thus capable of conducting electricity.
Magnesium in history:
There are several theories about the origin of the name magnesium:
On the one hand, it could come from the Greek region “Magnisia” or the ancient city “Magnesia” (located in today’s Turkey). However, the term could also be attributed to the ancient Greek word “magnisa”, which means “magnetic stone”.
Since the element magnesium also has magnetic properties, such a designation would make sense.
In nature, it occurs in plants, but also in many minerals, and is even one of the ten most common elements of the earth’s crust. Due to its high responsiveness, however, it does not occur here in elementary form,but only as a magnesium compound. This means that the magnesium atoms enter into chemical compounds with atoms of other elements. Magnesium, for example, is often a component of natural salts.
Thus, what we know from the dietary supplement in the form of capsules or effervescent tablets as magnesium is not a pure magnesium, but a compound of the element with other substances.
The first systematic study of magnesium compounds dates back to the Scottish physicist Joseph Black and his work in the mid-18th century. However, magnesium compounds in general were known to scientists centuries earlier.
In 1828, the French chemist Antoine Bussy presented small amounts of pure magnesium for the very first time. Several renowned physicists and chemists devoted themselves to the process in the following years and further refined it.
In 1852, the German chemist Robert Wilhelm Bunsen was finally able to develop a method for producing large amounts of magnesium from magnesium chloride. Melted, anhydrous magnesium salts are treated by electrolysis in order to obtain elementary magnesium.
Due to the shortcomings in production technology at the time, production was uneconomical for a long time. However, the method itself is so efficient that it is still in use today!
What is magnesium good for?
So far to chemistry and history, but what is magnesium actually good for?
Magnesium has a number of useful properties and is therefore used in many areas:
Due to the high responsiveness mentioned above, the element is highly flammable. Magnesium wire or powder is therefore well suited for incendiary sets, bombs or fireworks and is used as fuel in underwater flammable torches.
The flash light powder,as you might know it from old cameras, was also made of magnesium. It was quickly ignited to trigger bright light.
Particularly interesting: The flash of more modern handheld cameras was also triggered for a long time by a chemical magnesium reaction.
Due to the small mass of the material, magnesium is also used as an alloy in lightweight construction, in addition to chemical applications. The element was particularly popular in the automotive and aviation industry,for example.
In agriculture, magnesium compounds are used to return magnesium to the soil, which has been removed from plants. In addition, the treatment increases the pH of the soil, making nutrients more readily available.
But the future of magnesium may lie in medicine: researchers are already working on magnesium materials for implants that can be absorbedby the human body. Due to the chemical properties of magnesium, these implants would then be particularly resistant to corrosion and would dissolve completely after some time. This could soon be used, for example, for stents to keep vessels open.
What is magnesium important for in our body?
In addition to these diverse applications, the element also plays an important role in our body. Magnesium is part of a group of chemical compounds without which we are not viable. These essential substances include numerous trace elements, vitamins, amino acids, polyunsaturated fatty acids and minerals. The magnesium compounds are among the latter.
This means: Magnesium is vitalfor the human organism !
Normally, we absorb the valuable mineral through food. This allows it to enter the digestive tract, where it is eventually absorbed by the body and fed into the bloodstream.
In your body, magnesium is important for many functions. It is involved in enzyme reactions and supports the communication of cells in the immune system. In addition, magnesium ensures that your muscle and nerve cells function properly.
And that’s why magnesium is so important in your body: The muscle and nerve cells in your central nervous system are responsible for a variety of vital functions. These include tasks such as heartbeat, breathing, digestion or the metabolism of your body.
A permanent deficiency of magnesium can therefore have a negative effect on all vital functions and can also be life-threatening in an emergency. In addition, science suggests that insufficient supply of magnesium can exacerbate mental illnesses such as depression or schizophrenic psychosis.
But don’t worry, magnesium is contained in many foods. A balanced diet usually covers your daily magnesium needs quite well.
However, due to special stress, such as diseases of the kidneys or the digestive tract, pregnancy or competitive sports, the need increases. In these cases, your body needs additional magnesium to continue to function normally.
An easy way to compensate for the increased demand is therefore dietary supplements with magnesium. Ideally, you will pre-empt the medication in order to optimally dose the supplements.