Alkaline Earth - Biological Role and Precautions

Biological Role and Precautions

Magnesium and calcium are ubiquitous and essential to all known living organisms. They are involved in more than one role, with, for example, magnesium or calcium ion pumps playing a role in some cellular processes, magnesium functioning as the active center in some enzymes, and calcium salts taking a structural role, most notably in bones.

Strontium plays an important role in marine aquatic life, especially hard corals, which use strontium to build their exoskeletons. It and barium have some uses in medicine, for example "barium meals" in radiographic imaging, whilst strontium compounds are employed in some toothpastes.

Beryllium and radium, however, are toxic. Beryllium's low aqueous solubility means it is rarely available to biological systems; it has no known role in living organisms, and when encountered by them, is usually highly toxic. Radium has a low availability and is highly radioactive, making it toxic to life.

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