Magnesium (Mg) is a biologically essential mineral and Mg deficiency is known to lead to severe biochemical and symptomatic disorders. Radioactive isotopes and, more recently, stable isotopes have been used as research tools to determine intestinal Mg absorption in humans and animals under different nutritional and physiological conditions. Mg isotopes are given orally or orally plus intravenously and analysed in faeces and/or in plasma and urine in order to calculate intestinal Mg absorption and possibly endogenous Mg excretion. Mg isotopes have been also used to assess exchangeable pools of Mg under nutritional and physiopathological conditions. Mg isotopes are given intravenously and analysed in plasma and urine to calculate the size and half-life of the various Mg exchangeable pools. Finally, Mg isotopes have been used to study the mechanisms of Mg cellular exchange. To this end, erythrocytes or other types of cells are loaded with Mg isotope or incubated in an isotope-rich medium in order to study the Mg flux and its mechanisms. This paper is a report on the use of stable Mg isotopes and their advantages in these different fields of Mg absorption and metabolism. The studies available have clearly demonstrated that stable isotopes provide a useful research tool for determining intestinal Mg absorption, and represent a precious research tool for the study of Mg metabolism and the assessment of Mg status.
Keywords: magnesium, stable isotopes, metabolism, intestinal absorption, exchangeable pools
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