1. The purpose of your DNA:
We are made of protein
Different body parts get their unique shape and function from the special cells they are made of: Heart cells are different from brain cells, which are different from kidney cells, and from skin cells, liver cells, and so on. What gives different groups of cells their unique properties?
The proteins they are made of: Proteins make up our physical body.
Quick fact: our cells constantly create their own proteins daily (using the amino acid building blocks from the protein we eat) to regenerate and physically maintain themselves and thus our body.
This process of making proteins is called protein synthesis and it starts with DNA:
DNA: The protein manual
Each cell’s DNA is a set of instructions called genes, which show our cells which amino acid building blocks to use to make the proper proteins. Staying healthy is impossible without:
- Our cells’ ability to use genetic instructions to make proteins.
- Keeping our DNA and genes intact.
The more these two processes break down, the more problems we can see in practically any area of our body. If left unresolved, DNA damage and malfunction can eventually lead to major diseases like cancer, as well as negative health effects on our new born children as they inherit genes that we have damaged or negatively altered during our lifetime:
Do you want a healthy newborn?
Scientists now agree that our lifestyles change the genes we pass on to our babies, debunking the idea that genes are set in stone.[2-4] Simply put, our behavior can create conditions in our cells that damage or alter their genes,  and these genes can be passed down when a baby is conceived.
If you want to give your baby healthy genes, magnesium’s role in DNA is essential, as genetic scientist Dr. Andrea Hartwig explains:
“Besides its stabilizing effect on DNA and chromatin structure, magnesium is an essential cofactor in almost all enzymatic systems involved in DNA processing.” 
To get a better feel for how our DNA needs magnesium to maintain our physical body, watch the short video below [v1]:
2. How we use our DNA:
To build your understanding from the last section’s video:
The process of converting genes into proteins is called protein synthesis. It has two main parts:
- The cell makes a duplicate from a section of DNA, and turns it into an mRNA: an instruction manual to make a protein.
- The mRNA leaves the nucleus, where an enzyme called a ribosome scans the mRNA’s instructions and assembles all the amino acids needed to make the protein.
Both of these major phases of protein synthesis are magnesium-dependent:
- The machine that creates the mRNA copy of our gene is called RNA polymerase, and it needs magnesium to work. [6,7,8]
- The ribosome that reads the mRNA and creates the protein out of amino acids, also requires magnesium to work properly. [9,10]
Simply put, without magnesium our cells can’t convert our DNA into the proteins that make up our organs, muscles, tissues, nerves and other structural parts of our body. This can lead to loss of function and deterioration. We also need magnesium for several other enzymes that facilitate the use and maintenance of our DNA:
3. All major enzymes for DNA function need magnesium:
DNA Polymerase: Aging & Newborns
We need magnesium for many other DNA enzymes to work. Perhaps the most important of these is DNA polymerase.  DNA polymerase also duplicates our DNA, however it duplicates all the DNA in the cell, so that the cell can successfully divide into two separate cells each with their own set of DNA. This is needed in two different situations:
- When our cells replicate to replace dying cells.
- During pregnancy, when cells multiply for 9 months to create a baby.
Magnesium is also needed to stabilize the negatively charged structure of DNA with its high positive charge so that DNA polymerase can function. Simply put, we need magnesium for the cell division and replication that physically maintains life and creates new life.
Topoisomerases & Helicases: Regulation
We now know that our cells can’t duplicate DNA nor convert it into protein without magnesium. Yet for this to happen, several other steps are needed, which also require magnesium:
DNA itself is composed of two strands that are wound up in a double helix. In order for the DNA and RNA polymerase enzymes to duplicate our DNA, the DNA must first be unwound by an enzyme called a DNA helicase, which is now being shown to have several additional critical roles in DNA metabolism. DNA helicases are magnesium-dependent enzymes. [15-17]
Topoisomerases are another set of enzymes which play a similarly critical role in regulating the over-winding and unwinding behavior of our DNA. Topoisomerases belong to the Toprim family of enzymes, and all enzymes in this family are also magnesium-dependent.
Simply put, we need magnesium to unwind our DNA so that our cells can copy and convert it into the proteins that make up our body.
Besides the unwinding of the DNA strands, the polymerase enzymes also need another critical factor in order to begin duplicating our DNA:
They depend on ‘starting points’ found on the DNA sequence called primers, which serve as the catalysts or signals for the polymerase enzyme to start duplicating DNA.
These primers are made by another enzyme called DNA primase. In addition to initiating our polymerase enzymes’ duplicating behavior, DNA primases are involved in several other vital aspects of DNA functionality including repair and telomere maintenance. 
Interesting fact: telomere length is shown to be indicative of our biological aging, and how much life we have left. Thus DNA primases may slow down the aging process via their role in preserving our telomeres.
These critical DNA Primase enzymes that initiate DNA duplication and slow down our aging, are magnesium-dependent. 
RNA Spliceosomes: Proper instructions
The spliceosomes are massively important enzymes needed for the proper creation of proteins. They begin to function after the RNA polymerase has started to duplicate the DNA.
As the RNA polymerase duplicates the DNA, not all of the sections it duplicates are needed for the instructions to make the protein. The unnecessary sections which are duplicated, are called introns, which need to be removed in order to make the proper mRNA instruction for the protein the cell needs.
The spliceosomes are the enzymes that remove the introns, facilitating the formation of a complete set of mRNA instructions for making a protein.  These critical enzymes that help our cells make our vital proteins, also need magnesium.[22-25]
4. DNA repair & protection requires magnesium:
Magnesium repairs our DNA
Our DNA also suffers constant damage from environmental mutagens, endogenous processes, and even daily wear-and-tear. Luckily, our cells have ways of dealing with this constant DNA damage:
Inside the cell’s nucleus, we have enzymes called DNA Ligases that are designed to constantly repair DNA when it has been damaged.[26,27] These ligases are responsible for repairing “nicks,” single-strand breaks and double-strand breaks, and other types of damage our DNA incurs.[28,29]
These important enzymes all use magnesium [30-32] and without them working properly, unresolved DNA damage can lead to a decline in our body’s physical structure and function, as well as an onset of various forms of disease such as cancer.
Magnesium prevents DNA damage
Like the rest of the cell, the nucleus and its DNA are also affected by inflammation caused by the various forms of stress in our life.
This is why magnesium’s anti-inflammatory properties – which are now being shown in several longitudinal studies [33-35] – are essential to our genetic health. Magnesium mitigates DNA damage by fighting inflammation in our cells, and it does this largely via its role in the production of our body’s two most powerful anti-inflammatory agents:
The antioxidants glutathione and melatonin.
Magnesium, antioxidants & inflammation
Glutathione is the human body’s most abundant antioxidant, known for its potent anti inflammatory and antioxidant effects[36-43], and maintaining a healthy cellular environment for our DNA. [44,45]
Magnesium levels and glutathione levels are very closely related , which is no surprise given that magnesium is required for the creation of this important antioxidant[47-50]. Insufficient glutathione leads to inflamed cells, and increasingly damaged DNA.
Melatonin is another major anti inflammatory molecule [51-54], benefiting many areas of our body, and especially the cells of our brain and nerves.[55-57]
Once again, this DNA-protective antioxidant cannot be made without magnesium [58,59], which helps explain why lower magnesium intake results in lower melatonin [60,61], and thus increased inflammation and DNA damage.
Magnesium & detoxification
With the help of vitamin A, our liver produces a massive molecule called ceruloplasmin. This enzyme cannot be made without magnesium, because the process of protein synthesis which is needed to create it is magnesium-dependent.[6-10]
Furthermore, just as with our energy molecule ATP, ceruloplasmin also depends on magnesium for its stereo-chemical structure and thus its function. Why is ceruloplasmin so important?
Ceruloplasmin prevents our cells from storing iron, instead keeping it flowing in our blood where it belongs. It does this by helping our cells load iron onto the ferritin transporter molecule that carries it in our bloodstream. [62,63] When we lack sufficient ceruloplasmin, our cells store iron instead of loading it onto ferritin and circulating it in our blood.
Free, unbound iron stored in our cells is incredibly vulnerable to oxidative stress, and leads to the literal rusting of our cells. This increased oxidative stress and cellular inflammation affects all parts of our cells, including our DNA. Because our DNA’s state of health determines our body’s health, it’s no surprise that iron overload is associated with obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. [65-67]
5. Solutions to restore magnesium & promote healthy DNA:
To restore and maintain magnesium back to the healthy levels required for an optimal genetic environment in your cells, several measures can be taken as part of a well-rounded approach:
- Eat a magnesium-smart diet. Learn more.
- Reduce the environmental, psychological and physical stressors that deplete magnesium from your body. Learn more.
- Use a quality trans-dermal magnesium supplement to restore whole-body magnesium levels. Also, consider taking an oral magnesium orotate supplement which is shown to have good absorption into our cells, where our DNA resides. Learn more