Being a nutritionist, I cannot tell you how often I hear complaints of tiredness, muscle cramping and constipation. One amazing nutrient could be at the root of these common issues and many others.
Magnesium is a key component in over 600 major biochemical processes in the body; yet it is estimated that at least 75% of people are deficient. In order to feel our best, it is important to focus some attention on magnesium and how we can ensure we are getting enough.
Referred to as the “anti-stress mineral”, magnesium helps to relax the body and mind, reduce anxiety and promote quality sleep. It is also crucial for energy production, proper nerve and muscle function (bye, bye spasms and cramps!), and successful bowel movements. Magnesium is also important in the process of absorbing and using up vitamin D.
At a cellular level, magnesium helps to control the intake of nutrients into the cell and the removal of waste out of the cell; healthy cells equal a healthy body.
Today’s modern diet and lifestyle is the perfect recipe for magnesium deficiency. Frequent use of magnesium-depleting medications, excessive alcohol intake and long-term use of diuretics like caffeine, are just some reasons why many people may be deficient. Pair that with a decrease of magnesium in the soil of our food crops, and an increase in our need due to busy, stressful lives means that not only are we in need of more magnesium than ever before, but it is harder to get enough through our food.
Getting magnesium levels checked can be complicated as the standard test looks at serum magnesium, meaning how much is in the blood. Only 1% of the magnesium in the body is circulating in the bloodstream, the other 99% is stored in the cells of our bones, muscles, and other tissues. This makes it very hard to know whether an individual is deficient, however paying attention to your symptoms is a great way to determine what your body needs.
Low magnesium symptoms often present as weakness, muscle cramping, insomnia, restlessness, craving for chocolate, being easily startled and hypersensitivity to noise. If you suffer from any of these symptoms, consider upping your magnesium intake to get some relief.
Magnesium is the seventh most abundant element in the earth’s crust so it is no surprise that most whole foods grown in the earth are a good source of magnesium. Fresh fruit and vegetables like leafy greens, nuts, seeds, legumes and many more contain magnesium. However, with today’s farming practices, foods that were once a good source of magnesium are now less so due to reduced soil quality.
Taking a magnesium supplement can be very helpful. There are a few different forms of magnesium and each one functions a little bit differently in the body.
Magnesium citrate is one of the most common forms; frequently found in multivitamins and supplement blends for calmness, relaxation and sleep. In higher doses, this form has a laxative effect and can be used as a natural, non-addictive treatment for constipation.
Magnesium glycinate or bisglycinate is often found in quality standalone supplements. It is easily absorbed and used to improve sleep, reduce anxiety and depression, and assist with a variety of inflammatory conditions like heart disease and diabetes.
Magnesium oxide is a less expensive form and is not well-absorbed, for this reason is it not typically used to treat deficiencies. Most commonly it is found in milk of magnesia and used for heart burn, indigestion and constipation.
Magnesium chloride is found in lotions and creams and can be helpful in treating muscle aches and pains. Applying directly to the affected area can provide specific relief.
Magnesium sulfate is found in epsom salts. This is a great option for a soothing, warm bath before bed to help relax the body and mind.
Life is busy and stressful; getting enough magnesium is an easy and inexpensive way to mediate some of the symptoms many of us are struggling with as a result of nutrient deficiencies.