Magnesium has been the supplement of the moment for quite a while now. It seems that no matter how you are feeling, or what condition you have, that magnesium is the answer.
Can one mineral really be that good for us? And why are we so lacking in it that we are being recommended to add supplements into our lives?
Essentially, if you can’t relax or you feel like you can’t slow down this may be a sign of magnesium deficiency. You may be feeling tense because of a magnesium deficiency, or your tension may result in a magnesium deficiency as these periods of stress churn though your magnesium stores. Just another one of nature’s fabulous catch 22’s!
Magnesium is crucial to your body’s function. It is utilized in over 300 biochemical reactions and is needed for muscle and nerve health, to keep the heart beating rhythmically, for normal immune function and bone strength to name just a few. And the main reason we don’t have enough magnesium in our bodies - we simply aren’t getting enough magnesium from our food.
Natural sources of magnesium include sea vegetables, leafy greens, whole grains, dairy and fish. With a diet rich in these foods, you can still find yourself low in magnesium, and there are a couple of reasons why. Firstly, have a think about your life habits. How stressful and busy is your life, have you been sick recently, injured, stressed or anxious, sleeping poorly? When you have a period of ill health or stress, your body uses its stored magnesium more rapidly, and if it not replenished quickly you may end up with a deficiency even if your diet is squeaky clean. The other thing to consider is how well you are able to absorb the nutrients going in. It is common to have issues with absorption of minerals through your digestive tract, in large part arising from untreated food intolerances irritating the gut.
The five biggest benefits of magnesium are:
It’s been found that magnesium supplements can improve bone density. A deficiency of magnesium leads to changes in calcium metabolism and the hormones that control calcium absorption (from food) and deposition (into bones). More magnesium helps to prevent bone loss.
It can help to prevent cardiovascular disease
Studies have shown that taking the recommended amount of magnesium can help to prevent strokes and abnormal heart rhythms. Abnormal heart rhythms can lead to complications after heart attacks and so boosting magnesium levels is beneficial to the entire cardiovascular system.
Magnesium can regulate blood pressure
Magnesium is vital in regulating blood pressure. Supplements, alongside a healthy diet rich in fruit and vegetables (for potassium and more magnesium) have been associated for a long time with reductions in blood pressure.
It can help to treat diabetes
Studies have shown that people deficient in magnesium have an increased risk of type 2 diabetes and, in turn, diabetic retinopathy. Magnesium helps to metabolise carbohydrates and regulates the release of insulin, thus stabilising blood sugar levels. For every 100mg increase in magnesium intake, there is a concomitant 15% decrease in the long-term risk of type 2 diabetes.
Magnesium can help migraines, insomnia and depression
Magnesium supplements can help to reduce the severity of migraines, insomnia and depressive symptoms. It can also help to reduce the severity of panic attacks, stress and so-called “free-floating” anxiety.
Improving your overall magnesium stores can be approached in more than one way. Firstly, a good supplement for a few months ensures the right stuff is going in. While that is underway, you may like to consider how to increase magnesium rich foods into your daily diet, and then look at ways to support your own gut health (think probiotics, fermented foods, eliminating food intolerances with a naturopath’s guidance). And then the most important part of all – looking at ways to change your stress levels. Without a change in this area, you may always be playing catch up with your magnesium stores, and be stuck with supplementing as an on-going strategy.
If you would like any supplement recommendations for magnesium please call our practice and we can offer some product recommendations.