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A light, white, tough metallic element, used to strengthen other alloys (such as aluminium) in aircraft and other construction.
It was first found in Magnesia, a district of Thessaly in Eastern Greece - hence the name. It is also an essential mineral for human life, and is naturally found in green vegetables, figs, lemons, apples whole grain cereals, nuts and soya beans.
In the human body, it works with calcium to maintain healthy bones, regulates temperature, nerve and muscle functions and helps with the absorption of nutrients.
In food manufacture to stop certain foods -such as salt - not to cake, and stay free-flowing.
Magnesium can be depleted in the body by alcohol, sweet foods and the excessive consumption of milk enriched with vitamin D.
Deficiencies are manifested in irregular heartbeat and heart attacks, jumpy nerves and weak muscles, prostate enlargement and kidney stones.
The normal daily requirement is 350mg for adults, but pregnant and lactating women need 450mg per day. It's available from healthfood shops as a supplement. See 'Stabilisers'