Facts about Magnesium

By Dr. Doug Stewart
10 Interesting Facts about Element 12

1. At the center of every chlorophyll molecule, in every green plant, there is a magnesium ion.

2. Magnesium is one of the two dozen or so elements that are essential for life. Magnesium is vital in human metabolism, needed for over 300 biochemical reactions.

3. Magnesium fires must be treated with caution. Adding water to them produces hydrogen, which makes the fire burn even more fiercely.


4. If you try to put out a magnesium fire with carbon dioxide, you’ll also find yourself out of luck: magnesium burns in both pure nitrogen and pure carbon dioxide, and a carbon dioxide fire-extinguisher will feed a magnesium fire.

5. Mag wheels were once made of a magnesium alloy: magnesium is both light and strong. Mag wheels no longer include magnesium; the wheels did not last well and potentially were a fire hazard. Despite the absence of magnesium, the wheels have kept their original name.

6. Magnesium is formed in stars with a mass of eight or more Earth suns. Near the end of their lives, these stars enter the carbon burning phase, also making oxygen, sodium and neon.

7. Magnesium is the second most abundant metal in seawater. (Only sodium is more abundant.)

8. Our bodies need the correct amount of magnesium in our diets for us to sleep properly. If it’s too high or too low, we can suffer from sleep disturbance.

9. About 13% of our planet’s entire mass comes from magnesium. This means there’s enough magnesium within Earth to make a planet of the same mass as Mars AND have enough magnesium left over to make three more objects of the same mass as our moon.

10. There is a significantly higher proportion of magnesium below Earth’s crust than in it.

Magnesium Pumpkin Seeds

Magnesium compounds are needed for over 300 biochemical reactions in the human body. Many of us don’t get enough of it. Pumpkin seeds are a great source of magnesium.


A molecular model of the business end of a chlorophyll molecule. Magnesium is colored orange; nitrogen blue; oxygen red; carbon dark gray; and hydrogen light gray. Image by Diplodocus.


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