Magnesium is a mineral that serves many vital purposes in the body. There are more than 300 biochemical processes in the human body that require magnesium. From the heart to the bones, some of the bodyís most fundamental systems and structures depend on this important mineral. Both day-to-day and long-term health and well being require sufficient intake of magnesium.

Magnesium is important to bone health and structure.Indeed, fully half of the magnesium in the body is found in the bones.

One important contribution magnesium makes to the bones is to assist in the production of the hormone calcitonin, which increases the level of calcium in the bones. Magnesium also controls the acidity of the blood, which is beneficial to bones, as high acid levels can weaken bone structure.

Magnesium is needed for the production of ATP, which is the main energy-producing molecule in the body. Therefore, when magnesium is deficient our cells are less able to produce energy and we can experience chronic tiredness. It has been found that nearly all people with chronic fatigue syndrome are magnesium deficient and for about 80 per cent of people given magnesium their energy improves. In fact, magnesium is the most common nutrient deficiency in all people. Most of us would benefit from supplementation even if magnesium levels are unable to be checked.

Symptoms of deficiency: fatigue, irritability, muscle spasms or cramps, rapid or irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure, insomnia.

Testing for deficiency: magnesium is not generally tested by blood test. Hair analysis is the most readily available test. Hair mineral levels are a measure of the minerals bound into the hair shaft over a period of time and correlate most closely with tissue levels. The hair analysis test can be performed through specialist laboratories.

Caution: if magnesium supplements worsen your symptoms (especially cramping, twitching and muscle spasms), calcium is probably the deficiency, not magnesium.