Importance of Magnesium for Man, Plant, and Soil

The map shown above (Figure 1) outlines the areas of magnesium deficient soil in the United States. Magnesium deficiency in food and water supplies is becoming a hot topic and has been more widely studied in recent years. Several countries have already begun adding supplemental magnesium to their own water supply.


Magnesium occupies the central position of the chlorophyll molecule, the green pigment which enables plants to utilize solar energy for the production of organic matter (Figure 2).

It is, therefore, not surprising that an adequate Mg supply to plants may act as an activator of important enzymes in phosphorylation, the fundamental process of energy transfer in the plant.


Although the parent materials of some soils may contain very high amounts of magnesium (e.g. basalt, peridotite and dolomite), the total Mg contents of most soils are rather low, namely between 0.05% and 0.5% Mg. Of this amount only a fraction is easily available to the plant, i.e. the magnesium present in the soil solution and the exchangeable Mg absorbed to clay minerals or soil organic matter. High levels of Mg are found in some saline and alkali soils and in soils with a high content of magnesium carbonate. But many of the agricultural soils are low in exchangeable magnesium, particularly those in the humid zones of temperate and tropical climates. High rainfall and soil acidity together with low cation exchange capacity increase the mobility of magnesium and cause heavy losses by leaching. Under these conditions the Mg status of the soils is poor.

In tropical Latin America, for instance, 731 million hectares are deficient in magnesium (or 49% of all soils) mostly classified as Oxisols and Utisols (Ferralsols & Acisols according to the FAO-UNESCO soil map of the world). In Brazil, Mg deficiency symptoms on annual crops have been recorded as frequently as potassium deficiency. In the humid tropics and the wooded savannah of Africa, the soils with low base status which are presently or potentially deficient in Mg cover 44% of the area. In tropical Asia, they amount to 59%.

Usually, soils are considered deficient in plant available magnesium when the content of exchangeable magnesium is below 3-4 mg/100 g of soil. The critical values differ according to the soil texture. They are higher in soils with high content of 2:1 layer clay minerals and high organic matter. An example of Mg soil test rating for the Federal Republic of Germany is given in Table 1.

As for other plant nutrients, the status of available magnesium in the soil cannot be considered independently. It is influenced by the contents of other cations, such as calcium (Ca) and potassium (K), and by the soil acidity (pH). The relationship between Mg deficiency of oats and the pH of sandy soils is illustrated in Figure 3.

The occurrence of Mg deficiency symptoms was lowest at about pH 5, indicating an optimum of Mg availability at this pH range. At lower pH, the uptake of Mg is reduced due to the increased concentration of hydrogen (H) and aluminum (al) ions. In very acid tropical soils, mainly formed by sesquioxides of aluminum and iron, the addition of magnesium fertilizers to the soil reduces Al toxicity. At high soil pH, the competition of Ca ions is responsible for the lower Mg uptake. Regardless of the pH, ammonium (NH4) and potassium (K) affect the uptake of magnesium. Thus, heavy dressings of ammonium sulphate or potassium chloride can aggravate Mg deficiency.


Plants take up magnesium in smaller quantities than potassium, although the contents of exchangeable Mg in the soil and the Mg concentration of the soil solution are often higher than the corresponding values for K. There is antagonism between K and Mg but it seems to be confined to the deficiency range of nutrient availability. Under such conditions, increasing the supply of one nutrient aggravates the deficiency of the other. Usually high contents of Mg can be found in plants deficient in K (plants try to keep the sum of the cations K, Ca, Mg, Na fairly constant). Application of potash fertilizers to correct K deficiency leads to a gradual decrease of magnesium contents in the plant. Provided that the soil is well supplied with available Mg, leaf magnesium will not fall off to dangerously low values but remains above the critical level even at the high K rates needed to exploit the genetic yield potential of the plant (Figure 4).

When both K and Mg are deficient, it is advisable to improve the magnesium status of the soil by adequate Mg fertilizer dressings before applying heavy doses of K.


Magnesium deficiency symptoms are more and more observed not only on Mg defined soils but also on soils originally well supplied with this nutrient. This is due to higher Mg uptake by high yielding crops under intensive cultivation.

If the requirements are not met by the magnesium supply of the soil or by the application of Mg-containing fertilizers, plants will suffer from Mg deficiency and may show deficiency symptoms at various growth stages.

As magnesium is rather mobile and can be easily transported to the actively growing plant parts, Mg deficiency generally first becomes visible on the older leaves. Although the symptoms differ between plant species, some general characteristics are apparent.

Mg deficiency becomes manifest by pale discoloration of the leaves in part or as a whole (chlorosis) while the veins remain green. At a later stage the color of the affected areas changes to yellowish white; they become translucent and then take a dark color and eventually die (necrosis). In most cases the leaves are brittle and premature defoliation is observed, especially in fruit trees (see Figure 5).

Magnesium plays an essential role in the human and animal metabolism. It is a constituent of many enzymes, the key substances that regulate the life processes in the cells and organs of the body. Too low a Magnesium supply may lead to tetany (e.g. grass tetany, a lethal disease of dairy cattle), brain disturbances, muscular cramp, and eventually heart diseases.

Magnesium deficiency can be avoided if a food source contains sufficient Magnesium. The daily requirement is about 0.3-0.4g of Magnesium for an adult person. The magnesium needs of animals differ greatly. A dairy cow may require 3-6 g of magnesium per day, depending on the level of milk production. However, as the utilization of the magnesium contained in the forage is rather low (in young pasture grass only 10%), the actual quantity needed may become as high as 50 grams of magnesium per day or more. To assure an adequate supply of magnesium to dairy cattle, the forage should contain sufficient magnesium, at least 2 grams of magnesium per kg dry matter. The average Magnesium contents of some food and forage materials are given in Table 2.

At Thioguard, we are concerned with all things magnesium, so when we run across information like this we want to share it. There are many parallel benefits that magnesium provides to improve human, animal, and plant health, as well as improving biological water treatment.

HIDDEN COSTS: Iron use Steals Alkalinity/pH and Actually Increases Hydrogen Sulfide and Corrosion

The usual discussion of sulfide removal emphasizes iron chemistry and fails to mention other reaction products resulting from the chloride and sulfate being released when the iron combines with the sulfur to form iron sulfide, a black precipitate. Additionally, iron strips alkalinity when used inside the plant. If there is also a chronic phosphorus deficiency, the result is needless organism death and higher plant biosolids disposal costs. The focus in this write-up is on odor control complications with iron sulfate.


1. The first step in the reaction produces iron sulfide as a precipitate and sulfuric acid. If this were all that happens in wastewater, iron would be fed at a stoichiometric rate of 4.5 lbs. of ferrous sulfate to remove 1 pound of H2S. This turns out not be the case and 2 to 3 times that amount is necessary for sulfide reduction. Why? There are competing reactions in wastewater that will consume iron. Phosphorus, chlorides, sulfates, hydroxide, carbonate, oxygen and other common compounds compete for the available iron.

2. Now let us examine what may happen to the H2SO4 that is produced as a reaction product. First, it is corrosive and works to lower the pH in the wastewater. Second, sulfuric acid rapidly dissociates and will allow SO4-2 to be used as an oxygen source by the sulfate reducing bacteria producing more H2S.

3. Theoretically, iron sulfate could produce as much sulfide as it removes stoichiometrically, which then must be removed with additional iron. Lowered wastewater pH will also allow more H2S to be released as gas.


In contrast, Thioguard does nothing to lower the pH of the wastewater, produces no reaction products that can lead to additional sulfide production, and produces no sludge to settle out in the system or to be dewatered at the WWTP. The reaction is as follows:

The Magnesium binds the sulfide in a similar manner to iron and it will not be released unless the pH drops to 5.5 which is not normal in wastewater. More importantly, Thioguard is preventative and controls the formation of sulfide by increasing the pH and retarding the Sulfate Reducing Bacteria activity.


THIOGUARD® Takes the Cake… and Makes it Better.

For a nearly one million gallon a day plant in Lambertville, NJ the good news just kept on coming. First, they started using Thioguard  to condition their primary sludge to reduce odors from the plant. This worked so well, they began to ask, “Where else can Thioguard be applied?”

As the winds whipped in early Spring, it was discovered that a significant amount of odor was coming from the nearly quarter million gallon sludge holding tank at their site. Since Thioguard worked to reduce the primary sludge odors, they wondered if it would work for stored sludge waiting to be pressed.

After establishing a stable pH range of 7.5-8.0 s.u., with just a couple of gallons a day, odors were reduced to satisfactory levels… and then something very interesting happened. Not only were odors in the press building reduced, but the press cake was drier. On average nearly 20-40% drier.

Why? Thioguard is technical grade magnesium hydroxide: a buffered source of alkalinity that is used to increase pH. Elevated pH promotes better polymer performance. Not only that, but due to divalent cation bridging, the press supernatant quality can be clearer as well. Any remaining alkalinity is then returned in the supernatant to the headworks of the plant.

The Lambertville results were recently verified on a much larger scale through bench testing at a treatment plant in Newark, Ohio. The chart below illustrates expected typical annual cost savings in hauling and tipping after the addition of Thioguard at a 100 MGD plant. The bottom line? For every 1% improvement in cake solids, the plant would save approximately $214K in hauling and tipping costs. In multiple tests, the use of Thioguard consistently resulted in 5% to 13% improvement in cake solids with greatly reduced water weight. Drier cake solids means less to haul, and fewer loads translates directly into operational savings.

Magnesium’s Impact on Vitamin D Intake

The influence that magnesium has on the way our bodies process vitamin D has big implications for bone health. The studies suggest that taking a magnesium supplement can help people reach their desired level of vitamin D faster. Not only can they reach that level faster, but magnesium may also more effectively facilitate the actions of vitamin D on bone health. An additional 200 mg of magnesium is all it should take to get the average person up to an adequate intake.13% improvement in cake solids with greatly reduced water weight. Drier cake solids means less to haul, and fewer loads translates directly into operational savings.

  • Magnesium is important in regulating levels of vitamin D.

  • Many Americans fail to get enough magnesium as well
    as vitamin D in their diet.

  • Improving levels of both minerals could improve bone strength
    and lower risk of cancer and heart disease.

For more information about the health benefits of Magnesium click here

Multiple Benefits to Your Process,Multiple Benefits Downstream

With the THIOGUARD® Advantage Package, it’s your process Mg+nified!(TM)

Benefits outlined in this table require Thioguard’s superior technical grade magnesium hydroxide combined with the Thioguard Advantage Package of consulting, performance testing, inventory control and delivery services.


Odors | Corrosion | FOG (Fats, Oil, Grease) | Air Relief

Comments: Customers can “dial in” the desired level of treatment. Best acid neutralization prevents premature infrastructure corrosion & replacement, adds numerous benefits downstream. Thioguard can reduce FOG related SSOs. Thioguard can reduce pumping costs on long force mains.


BOD (Biological Oxygen Demand) | TSS (Total Suspended Solids)
NH3 (Ammonia) | Phosphorus | FOG

Comments: Thioguard is the only liquid phase treatment used in the collection system that can enhance the treatment process at the Wastewater Treatment Plant.


Digestion | CH4 Methane Production Enhanced DewateringComments: Thioguard added to the collection system or sludge digestion process can also help the digestion and dewatering processes at the Wastewater Treatment Plant.


Comments: Thioguard added to the collection system or sludge digestion process can also help the digestion and dewatering processes at the Wastewater Treatment Plant.

There’s no magic bullet for fitness, but magnesium comes close

My oldest son’s basketball tryouts are looming this week. He cares deeply about making the team and asked me what he should do to prepare. I suggested he sleep and eat well before the tryouts, which may not have been the novel or life-changing answer he was seeking. I gather he was hoping for a magic bullet, something that would make his muscles strong and flexible, deliver him energy, render him well rested, and keep stress at bay.

Now that I think of it, buddy, there just may be a magic mineral that does all of these things. Magnesium helps with energy, muscle strength, flexibility, sleep and stress management — everything you need.

Basketball tryouts are no joke. They involve hours of running, pivoting, head-to-toe muscle use and quick reflexes. Magnesium contributes to flexibility and helps to prevent injury by loosening tight muscles. Without enough magnesium, muscles can’t properly relax, possibly causing cramps. Low magnesium can create a buildup of lactic acid, known to cause post-workout pain and tightness. Also, much of the body’s energy comes from ATP, a molecule that captures chemical energy from food and uses it to fuel other processes in the body. ATP production depends on magnesium.

Magnesium obviously won’t build my son’s arm muscles in time for tryouts, but it does help the body produce more insulin-like growth factor, an essential part of long-term muscle growth and strength.

Magnesium helps to balance and control stress hormones. Specifically, magnesium is essential for the production of serotonin, which is responsible for relaxing the nervous system and lifting moods. Serotonin also contributes to healthy sleep. A lack of magnesium upends sleep not only because of its role in serotonin production but also because it topples the sleep regulating hormone melatonin.

Magnesium is one of the essential electrolytes needed for efficient hydration. Sorry to disappoint you kids that were hoping I’d recommend a Gatorade for your tryouts; instead, you need to eat real magnesium and potassium-rich foods, and drink lots of water. A few magnesium stars include leafy green vegetables, pumpkin seeds, flax seeds, almonds, cashews, pecans, walnuts, brown rice, avocado, beans, raw cacao, edamame and seaweed.

A winning smile won’t command my son a spot on the basketball team, but perhaps it will reveal him as a positive, eager player. Low magnesium leaves saliva with excess calcium and phosphorous, which can damage teeth and harm that winning smile.

Magnesium also builds strong bones, maintains heart health, helps to prevent diabetes by regulating blood sugar, prevents inflammation and strokes, boosts immunity, preserves a proper pH balance in the body, and relieves constipation. Phew. Magnesium might really be that magic bullet as it performs an essential role in every almost bodily function.

In fact, in the emergency room, magnesium is considered a critical medication for emergency heart, asthma, pregnancy preeclampsia and other life-threatening conditions because it has a relaxing effect and is found in every tissue.

Modern life conspires to steal our magnesium. Caffeine, phosphoric acid in soda, too much salt, extreme sweating, alcohol, prolonged stress, antibiotics and other medications drain our bodies of the much-needed mineral.

So how can a teenage boy, trying out for a basketball team, or not, obtain the recommended daily intake of 410 mg of magnesium? He can eat meals such as oatmeal for breakfast; a brown rice, black bean and avocado burrito for lunch; a banana with almond butter as a snack; and roasted chicken, sesame noodles and a spinach salad for dinner. One of the most relaxing ways to absorb magnesium is to take a bath with magnesium or Epsom salts. Our skin is our largest organ for ingestion into the blood system so magnesium baths can both relax us and contribute to our magnesium intake.

Ensuring my son has healthy levels of this mineral is not going to secure his spot on the eighth-grade basketball team, but it will help him sleep well, boost his mood and lower his stress; make it less likely that his muscles cramp; and more likely that he is flexible and energetic. These are good outcomes any week of the year.

Harness the Versatility of Magnesium Hydroxide

Improves Odor Control, Reduces F.O.G. & Eliminates
Caustic Usage for Significant Cost SavingsLake

THIOGUARD® is a safe, industrial-strength milk of magnesia that adds alkalinity and raises pH levels at your treatment plant. In current applications, the addition of Thioguard delivers measurable benefits in three powerful ways:

Thioguard increases alkalinity for nitrogen removal. Every gallon of Thioguard dosed results in nearly two gallons of 50% caustic reduced, resulting in significant cost savings and a safer workplace.


Enhances Grease Control

Thioguard controls odors continuously by maintaining appropriate alkalinity and prevents daily “spiking,” which typically requires additional treatment locations. Nitrates only control odor with increased/residual nitrogen loading to the WRF. In addition, Thioguard is the ONLY commonly used technology that has a direct mechanism to prevent corrosion.

Enhance Phosphate Treatment with THIOGUARD®

In plants currently using metal salts, the addition of
THIOGUARD® technical grade magnesium hydroxide can

Increased regulation of total phosphorus limits are a fact of life, and another challenge for WWT plant operators and engineers. In most treatment plants, metal salts (ferrous/ferric or aluminum) are added for the treatment of phosphates.

Adding THIOGUARD® technical grade magnesium hydroxide will:

  • Minimize or eliminate the addition of metal salts
  • Enhance biological phosphorus uptake in bioreactors
  • Reduce the amount of metal-laden sludge
  • Increase agricultural phosphate recovery
  • Reduce dewatering, handling and transportation costs
  • Eliminate the need for expensive plant upgrades

THIOGUARD® is specifically formulated for maximum alkalinity
and magnesium utilization in biological processes, enhancing the
performance of metal salts in removing phosphates chemically –
while simultaneously improving biological uptake in bioreactors.


THIOGUARD® improves plant performance
Improved plant performance =
Significant Savings

Thioguard is engineered to provide maximum magnesium hydroxide and sustained alkaline utilization, enhancing the formation of metal hydroxide precipitate and increasing the adsorption of soluble phosphorus.

The benefits of adding THIOGUARD® to your treatment processes are not limited to enhanced phosphorus treatment and management. In addition, THIOGUARD® is the ONLY commonly used product that has a direct mechanism to prevent corrosion through sustainable and balanced pH levels. You will also benefit from a reduction in the formation of metal-laden sludge – significantly reducing your handling and transportation costs. The benefits are numerous and system-wide, making THIOGUARD® the practical choice for your entire system.

The Solution to Your F.O.G. Problem is THIOGUARD®

The accumulation of fats, oils, and grease can be dramatically reduced through the use of THIOGUARD® technical grade magnesium hydroxide. THIOGUARD® is a strong base, and a moderate pH adjuster, which adds non-carbonate alkalinity to the wastewater. As pH increases, fats, oils, and grease become more soluble. The practical effect on municipal wastewater systems is a rapid, dramatic reduction in fat, oils, and grease buildup within the collection, transport and treatment structures.

 THIOGUARD® does NOT transfer F.O.G. problems “downstream,”
only to reappear in your plant.

THIOGUARD® eliminates the problem, by improving the immediate environment, allowing “good bacteria” to perform their function. By the time the wastewater reaches your reclamation facility, the majority of the F.O.G. has been either consumed or reduced to simpler organics.

The addition of THIOGUARD® boosts pH levels, THROUGHOUT your system, PREVENTING the conditions that encourage the deposition of grease, which can clog lines, and accumulate on the surface of pump stations and your treatment plant. With improved pH, solubility is increased significantly, by a factor of 10x in some cases. THIOGUARD® is typically added through a single Feed Unit, and provides multiple benefits throughout your system, from source to discharge.

THIOGUARD® provides the greatest power to neutralize acid over long infrastructure distances, while providing additional benefits to your waste water treatment plant’s biological treatment processes. The chart below compares alkalinity per gallon, illustrating the superiority of THIOGUARD® against other commonly used treatment options.

THIOGUARD® Cuts through F.O.G. and Delivers
Multiple System-Wide Benefits

The benefits of adding THIOGUARD® to your treatment processes are not limited to the prevention or reduction of F.O.G., through sustainable and balanced pH levels. THIOGUARD® also prevents corrosion and dramatically reduces the formation of sludge – significantly reducing your handling and transportation costs. The benefits are numerous and system-wide, making THIOGUARD® the best and most practical choice for your system.

Water Environment Federation Selects THIOGUARD’s Mary Evans as a 2018 Fellow For Contributions to the Water Profession

Mary EvansThe Water Environment Federation (WEF) recently announced Thioguard’s Mary Evans, among 15 distinguished members as a 2018 WEF Fellow recipient. This prestigious designation recognizes members’ achievements, stature, and contributions in the water profession. “The impressive accomplishments of this year’s WEF Fellows have made a profound impact in the water profession,” said WEF Executive Director Eileen O’Neill. “We are honored to recognize their efforts to preserve and enhance the global water environment.” The WEF Fellows Recognition Program underscores WEF’s role as a valuable water quality resource, which is due in large part to the expertise of its diverse membership.

WEF Fellows are recognized in various areas of expertise including, but not limited to, design, education, operations, regulation, research, utility management and leadership. Mary Evans is a highly regarded member of the Water Environment Association of Texas and WEF, serving in a number of volunteer, committee and leadership capacities over a 40+ year water professional career. The 2018 WEF Fellows will be recognized during WEFTEC® 2018, WEF’s 91st annual technical exhibition and conference, September 29 to October 3 in New Orleans. For more information, visit

Water Environment Federation

About WEF The Water Environment Federation (WEF) is a not-for-profit technical and educational organization of 34,000 individual members and 75 affiliated Member Associations representing water quality professionals around the world. Since 1928, WEF and its members have protected public health and the environment. As a global water sector leader, its mission is to connect water professionals; enrich the expertise of water professionals; increase the awareness of the impact and value of water; and provide a platform for water sector innovation.


THIOGUARD® is a leading supplier of technical grade magnesium hydroxide and magnesium oxide to the wastewater treatment industry. Thioguard’s Total System Treatment is a non-hazardous application with no required reportable quantities, and is owned, mined and produced in the USA. Thioguard provides more alkalinity than any other additive, it is effective at treating odors, corrosion and FOG (fats, oils and grease), and also provides positive plant benefits for nitrification, biosolids production, digester performance, and chlorination. Thioguard is a division of Premier Magnesia, LLC. For more information, visit