Magnesium is the second most abundant intracellular cation. The total body content in an adult is around 2000 mmol (24 g). Sixty per cent is contained in bone, and 20% in muscle. The normal calcium: magnesium ratio in bone is 50:1, the ratio being higher in trabecular than in cortical bone. Only 1 % is contained in the extracellular fluid.

Daily intake is around 10-12 mmol. Requirements are increased in childhood, pregnancy, critical illness and in magnesium-losing states (renal, gastrointestinal or cutaneous). The serum concentration ranges from 0.8-1.2mmol/l. 25%-30% is protein bound, 10%-15% is complexed and 50%-60% (the physiologically active fraction) is ionised. The intracellular concentration is around 40 mmol/l.

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