Magnesium is an essential mineral and a cofactor for hundreds of enzymes. Foods that contain fiber, such as green leafy vegetables, nuts and seeds, legumes and whole grains, are the best sources of magnesium. Green vegetables contain magnesium because the nutrient is a component of chlorophyll, the molecule which gives plants their green color.
Magnesium is involved in many physiologic pathways, including energy production, nucleic acid and protein synthesis, ion transport, cell signaling, and has structural functions. Magnesium plays important roles in the structure and the function of the human body. The adult human body contains about 25 grams of magnesium. Over 60% of all the magnesium in the body is found in the skeleton, about 27% is found in muscle, 6% to 7% is found in other cells, and less than 1% is found outside of cells.
The metabolism of carbohydrates and fats to produce energy requires numerous magnesium-dependent chemical reactions. Magnesium is required by the adenosine triphosphate (ATP)-synthesizing protein in mitochondria. ATP, the molecule that provides energy for almost all metabolic processes, exists primarily as a complex with magnesium (MgATP). Magnesium is required for a number of steps during synthesis of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), ribonucleic acid (RNA), and proteins.