Magnesium is never found freely as a pure metal in nature. It is always found as a part of a compound.
Magnesium is the 12th element in the periodic table, having an atomic number 12 and atomic symbol Mg. It was isolated in 1808 by Sir Humphry Davy. It is one of the most widely found elements on the Earth. It is silvery white in color, highly flammable, and burns with a white flame. Magnesium is an alkaline earth element, and constitutes about 2% of the earth's crust.
Common Uses of Magnesium
As magnesium is ductile, malleable and light in weight, it is used for making various products. The mineral magnesium is required for carrying out several functions in the human body. Magnesium is found in chlorophyll, and is essential for metabolism. It is required during the process of photosynthesis.
- It is used as a reducing agent in the production of uranium.
- Magnesium oxide is used as refractory material for the production of iron and steel.
- A coat of magnesium is applied on iron to prevent its corrosion.
- As magnesium burns with a bright light, it is used in flash bulbs, flares, bombs, flash photography, etc.
- Compounds of magnesium are used in furnace linings for the production of glass and metals.
- Magnesium carbonate is used for heavy-duty insulation in ovens, ships and boilers.
- Alloys of aluminum-magnesium are used for making beverage cans.
- Alloys of magnesium are also used to make lightweight frames for luggage and bicycles.
For Human Beings
- Although required in smaller amounts, magnesium is an important element required to carry out more than 300 chemical reactions in the human body.
- Magnesium is prominently required for maintaining proper heart health.
- It regulates calcium absorption, and hence, is very essential for proper growth and maintenance of bones in the body.
- It is essential for maintaining normal blood pressure, maintaining normal blood sugar levels, and in protein synthesis.
- It also acts as a natural laxative; but, excess of it can lead to diarrhea.
- It is used to enhance tolerance and endurance levels in athletes.
- Magnesium aspartate is essential for proper transportation of minerals in the blood stream.
- Treatment of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), leg cramps, etc., are other magnesium uses.
Green leafy vegetables (swiss chard, spinach), beans and legumes (peas, navy beans, pinto beans, lima beans), whole grains, dairy products and chocolates are rich sources of magnesium. Inclusion of these foods in your daily diet is essential to prevent deficiency disorder known as magnesium deficiency syndrome.
In Everyday Life
- Epsom salt, one of the forms of magnesium, is used as a bath soak.
- Magnesium chloride is used as an anti-icing or de-icing product to prevent snow from sticking on roads in winter.
- Hand chalk used by athletes and rock climbers is actually magnesium carbonate.
- Magnesium is used for medicinal purposes. Certain compounds of magnesium are used as antiseptics.
- Milk of magnesia (Magnesium hydroxide suspended in water) is used as an antacid.
- Magnesium acts as a laxative and is used to treat constipation.
We can conclude by saying that, as the applications of magnesium are found in diverse fields, it can truly be said that it is one of the most important elements known to man.