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J Am Coll Nutr. 1997 Aug;16(4):352-6.

Effect of magnesium deficiency on vitamin B2 and B6 status in the rat.

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Institute of Nutrition and Food Technology, Department of Physiology, University of Granada, Spain.



The present study was undertaken to investigate the effect of dietary magnesium (Mg) deficiency on vitamin B2 (riboflavin) and B6 (pyridoxine) status in rats.


We fed Wistar rats an Mg-deficient diet (56 mg magnesium per kg food) for 70 days. On days 21, 35 and 70 we measured Mg and manganese (Mn) in plasma and whole blood, alkaline phosphatase in plasma, erythrocyte glutathione reductase activity coefficient (AC-EGR) for riboflavin status, and erythrocyte aspartase transaminase activity coefficient (AC-EAST) for vitamin B6 status.


Intake of the Mg-deficient diet significantly decreased plasma and whole blood levels of Mg and plasma alkaline phosphatase activity on all sampling days. The Mg deficit had no effect on plasma concentrations of Mn, but significantly increased whole blood levels of this element on days 35 and 70. The Mg-deficient diet had no effect on AC-EGR, and thus appeared not to affect riboflavin status. However, AC-EAST was significantly increased on day 70, implying that the animals were at risk for vitamin B6 deficiency.


Mg deficiency impairs vitamin B6 status by depleting intracellular Mg and thus inhibits the activity of alkaline phosphatase, a metalloenzyme required for the uptake of pyridoxal phosphate by tissues. Although part of the intraerythrocyte loss of Mg is countervailed by Mn, which can act as a substitute activator of alkaline phosphatase, the degree of compensation is insufficient to fully offset the decrease in activity caused by Mg depletion.

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