The mineral for performance and strong nerves
50 percent of magnesium in the animal’s body is stored in the skeleton. Here, along with calcium and phosphorus, it is involved in bone development and stability. A further 45 percent is contained in the body cells: here magnesium functions as an important activator of many enzymes, and is highly significant for the metabolism and muscle performance. Only about five percent of the magnesium is to be found in the extracellular space, where it is of great importance for the stimulation of muscles and nerves.
Important for relaxation
The functionality of muscles of the body requires a harmonious interaction between calcium and magnesium. While calcium promotes muscle contraction, magnesium has the opposite effect, enabling the muscles to relax again. With magnesium deficiency this interaction does not function properly. The tensed muscles cannot relax, and weakness, tension, shivering and cramp may occur. With heavy undersupply of magnesium, tetany, loss of consciousness, arrhythmias and even cardiac arrest are possible. A deficiency may also affect the nerves. Since magnesium subdues the stimulation of the nerves, a deficiency often results in nervousness, restlessness, inadequate feed intake and tension even to the point of panic reactions.
The magnesium content of feed is not always sufficient
Magnesium is one of the essential minerals, which are vital, and since the body itself cannot produce them, they have to be absorbed in sufficient quantities every day. In the case of pets, pigs and poultry, the required intake of magnesium is normally ensured via commercial feed. For horses, cattle, sheep and goats, on the other hand, deficiencies are not uncommon. The magnesium content in green feed may not always cover needs, and in particular cattle may be subject to grass tetanies when they consume young grass. Even with a calculated needs-based feeding of magnesium, deficiency symptoms may appear, for example when there is an excess of calcium and the resorption of magnesium in the intestine is restricted.
Increased need with stress and strain
The situation becomes especially critical when too little intake is combined with increased excretion, be it through perspiration, diarrhoea or vomiting.
Moreover, special attention is required in situations in which the need is increased. This is primarily the case for growing, pregnant, lactating or ageing animals, but also for animals which are exposed to high performance requirements and nervous stress. In all these cases, raising the magnesium intake can help. Research has shown that an adequate supply of magnesium can improve tolerance of stress in pigs and turkeys. A good magnesium balance, alongside species-appropriate husbandry, can thus considerably increase the well-being of animals, reduce aggression among them and contribute to a better quality of meat.