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The Importance of Magnesium

In cellular systems, magnesium is the second most abundant element and is involved in basically all metabolic pathways. At physiologically relevant concentrations, magnesium itself is not genotoxic, but is highly required to maintain genomic stability. Besides its stabilizing effect on DNA and chromatin structure, magnesium is an essential cofactor in almost all enzymatic systems involved in DNA processing. Most obvious in studies on DNA replication, its function is not only charge-related, but very specific with respect to the high fidelity of DNA synthesis. Furthermore, as essential cofactor in nucleotide excision repair, base excision repair and mismatch repair magnesium is required for the removal of DNA damage generated by environmental mutagens, endogenous processes, and DNA replication. Intracellular magnesium concentrations are highly regulated and magnesium acts as an intracellular regulator of cell cycle control and apoptosis. As evident from animal experiments and epidemiological studies, magnesium deficiency may decrease membrane integrity and membrane function and increase the susceptibility to oxidative stress, cardiovascular heart diseases as well as accelerated aging. The relationship to tumor formation is more complex; magnesium appears to be protective at early stages but promotes the growth of existing tumors. With respect to the magnesium status in humans, the daily intake in most industrialized countries does not reach the current recommended daily dietary allowances (RDA) values, and thus marginal magnesium deficiencies are very common