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Chapter: Medical Surgical Nursing: Fluid and Electrolytes: Balance and Distribution

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Significance of Magnesium

Next to potassium, magnesium is the most abundant intracellular cation.

SIGNIFICANCE OF MAGNESIUM

Next to potassium, magnesium is the most abundant intracellular cation. It acts as an activator for many intracellular enzyme sys-tems and plays a role in both carbohydrate and protein metabo-lism. Magnesium balance is important in neuromuscular function. Because magnesium acts directly on the myoneural junction, variations in the serum concentration of magnesium affect neuro-muscular irritability and contractility. For example, an excess of magnesium diminishes the excitability of the muscle cells, whereas a deficit increases neuromuscular irritability and contractility.

Magnesium produces its sedative effect at the neuromuscular junction, probably by inhibiting the release of the neurotrans-mitter acetylcholine. It also increases the stimulus threshold in nerve fibers.

Magnesium exerts effects on the cardiovascular system, acting peripherally to produce vasodilation. Magnesium is thought to have a direct effect on peripheral arteries and arterioles, which re-sults in a decreased total peripheral resistance. Magnesium disor-ders include hypomagnesemia and hypermagnesemia.

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