Are you getting enough Magnesium?
Many health and mood problems (even depression) are often overlooked by health practitioners, and medicine that is prescribed can be worse for our body with some side effects, which can affect us in the long term.
However research has timelessly tried to show us that our health problems and anxiety is in fact associated with vitamins/mineral deficiencies, food intolerances and most importantly our lifestyle affecting us on a cellular level (yes people unfortunately everything you eat, drink, feel and do, and your life experiences affects your cells! Sad but true), which I will cover this topic more thoroughly at some point.
Dietary scientists have found that most of our health and mood issues keep demonstrating that there is a low magnesium level in our blood. It was also highlighted that the body requires certain minerals and vitamins, such as magnesium which is found to be most effective when used in conjunction with the B vitamins group and calcium. In fact when the diet is high in dietary calcium with magnesium it keeps the bones strong. It also helps regulate the body’s nerve and muscle tone to prevent cramps (especially night time ones), muscle soreness and fatigue.
Most importantly (which I noticed for myself) is how it supports the body during stressful periods, to reduce cortisol from affecting our health. Too much cortisol can in fact make us very ill and raise the chances of a heart attack, sorry to scare you, but there is a very strong mind-body connection to illness and I have experienced the so-called stress belly (i.e. when cortisol from stress accumulates fat in your abdomen). Research has shown that physical and emotional stress is a known cause for magnesium deficiency, and this is why we need to do the most to reduce and assist our body during stress, and especially when we feel anxious for long periods.
It makes sense that recently in the Evening standard it mentioned the health departments around the world have seen a big increase in people buying Prozac to manage their nerves, depression and sleep problems. This is quite an alarming problem and to rely on prescription tablets isn’t the best move.
Here is where magnesium becomes an essential part of our diets. It has a big role in that it supports every function and tissue in the body (at least 300 biochemical reactions in the body to be exact), supports a healthy immune system, prevents inflammation (associated with certain cancers), boosts heart health, and could even cut your risk of having a heart attack.
A Harvard university study also found a 33% reduction in diabetes risk after supplementing the diet with magnesium, and people with diabetes reported how they depend on the mineral to regulate blood sugar levels and stabilize blood pressure. The study also found an improvement in reducing migraines and depression. There are therefore many exceptional benefits of the mineral, but I won’t ponder on too much, however I will instead share some of my experiences with magnesium and how it has affected me.
This is my story in brief:
After many years of going to the doctor to ask for help with my asthma, chronic fatigue and allergic rashes to no avail, I had to take matters into my own hands. I had been doing research for years looking for something to help me with my respiratory problems, fatigue, hand eczema, eye-twitches (mostly down to lack of sleep and stress which magnesium corrected) , and anxiety and I finally came across this miracle mineral. I’d like to call it the ‘master molecule’ that everyone needs in their body.
This year I actually stopped using my inhaler which I always relied on, and up till now have seen a tremendous improvement in my energy levels, skin, hand eczema, sleep, the list keeps improving. Just 3 weeks ago I had my annual asthma check and the doctor couldn’t believe the improvement. My peak flow reading went off the scale, whereas before I had very little strength with my breathing and felt more panicked when I couldn’t get a full breath and relied on inhalers. The doctor also mentioned how I looked healthier and my skin was glowing. I’ll be honest it’s not just magnesium, as I have been also taking other supplements (e.g. Omega 3) which I will mention later on in this article.
Coming back to the magic mineral, I started taking magnesium citrate (the safe natural approved form) which absorbs faster into your blood stream and provides a noticeable effect even from the 1st use. Now before anyone says ‘I don’t trust supplements’ believe me when I say that I feel the same way that not all are good quality. This is why you need to do some research before you buy anything. I’m lucky though that at my local health shop they only sell the best quality and the advice I get from the owner is very helpful and always effective. My favourite brand is Solgar, Synergy (all certified organic), Lambert’s and Patrick Holfords. They are always the best in improving my health, and I tend to buy natural forms of tablets such as spirulina, chlorella (I will talk about these in my next few posts as they are good for the removal of toxins in the body) and elderberry(Sambucol brand) which is amazing for immune health (perfect for those winter months).
What I also wanted to cover briefly is how can you tell if you have a deficiency and what can it lead to in the long-term? Firstly I am not a doctor or a physiologist, so if you do want more medical help you can do a blood test first to check if you are deficient, but these tests are often misleading. However if you want to get a bit of an idea for yourself just like I did my own research here are some of the common questions to ask yourself: (If more than more than 3 apply you may be deficient or may need more in your diet):
- Do you have difficulty falling asleep and/or staying asleep?
- Do you suffer from stress and/or anxiety?
- Do you feel low most days or sad?
- Do you experience muscle spasms often?
- Have you experienced facial tics, eye twitches or involuntary eye movements?
- Do you have migraines and tension headaches?
- Do you consume caffeinated drink daily and/or carbonated fizzy drinks on a regular basis?
- Do you drink more than 7 alcoholic beverages per week?
- Do you consume cakes, cookies, pastries etc regularly or believe to have a sweet tooth?
- Do you take medication such as asthma, heart, cholesterol, diuretic medication or birth control pills?
If more than more than 3 apply to you then you may be deficient or may need more magnesium in your diet.
It’s not entirely your fault if you find you aren’t getting enough, because let’s face it British soil has very little magnesium and other minerals such as selenium, silica and potassium left, so fruits and veg are much lower in nutrients than ever before (fyi also due to pesticides, chemicals affecting the soils’ mineral content). Since magnesium cannot be made in the body, it must therefore be plentiful in the diet for us to stay healthy. The RDA for magnesium also recommends adults need 400 mg/day for males and 320 mg/day for females, yet half of the population are not even getting 300mg per day, so this is why our nation is becoming deficient in many vitamins and minerals, hence the need to supplement our diet.
But although we can supplement our diet we must not rely on them solely, and we need to try to manage to also eat fresh and wholesome foods with plenty of vitamins, and of course with the much needed magnesium to assist our bodily processes.
Here are some of my top 10 magnesium rich foods (btw most of the magnesium rich foods are also high in iron again essential for energy and red blood cell protection) :
- Raw spinach (40% magnesium!) + all dark leafy greens
- Dried fruits.
- (I’ve had to cut down unfortunately as I had a bit of an intolerance, very sad!)
- Nuts and seeds (such as pumpkin, almond, hemp and sesame seeds),
- Avocado (it also has a high oleic oil content, which is healthy brain fats as I like to call them).
- Fish is also a good source (salmon, mackerel).
- Beans and lentils (soya beans, white beans, black eyed beans etc. ).
- Whole grains (millet, brown rice)and
- And even ‘chocolate’ (dark variety 70% or more cocoa) being excellent sources to add more of into our diets.
Another important thing I forgot to mention is that you can buy ‘Epsom salts’ and add it to your bath as a muscle relaxant after exercise and to detox your body from all the day’s toxins (this is helpful for getting a good night’s sleep and for weight loss) as well as for the ladies to get rid of cellulite and a sluggish digestion and to improve the mood. You can also buy sprays, soaps and body wash varieties (which amazingly has stopped the flair up of my eczema!) as they still offer benefits by penetrating deeper into the skin layers (compared to your normal body and face wash) providing us with a good source of magnesium. There are also some Epsom salts you can buy that have lavender in them, making it even easier to slumber off to sleep, but what I do is just add a few drops of lavender essential oil with the Epsom salts and it’s excellent to help me relax and unwind at the end of the day.
Just to summarise magnesium is basically my saviour for most of my health niggles I have experienced and I find it to be a great addition to reducing my stress levels, anxiety and helping me feel calmer and focused during the day. It should be everyone’s go-to mineral as it offers many benefits to your physical and emotional wellbeing at the same time, and is perfect for an active lifestyle.
What I’d like to add is when magnesium is used alongside a healthy lifestyle which includes eating a variety of foods such as fruits, vegetables (lots of greens) good sources of protein and plenty of water, regular exercise (2-3 times weekly), yoga or meditation (stress reducing exercises) and additional natural supplements the benefits become even more apparent and you start to feel great and full of energy. However even when magnesium is used alone without any other vitamins you will still notice great benefits. Remember that the older you get or the more stress you experience then more magnesium is needed to keep your cells young and slowing ageing, and most people are in fact deficient so go ahead and get your magnesium fix!
Hope you can find something helpful from the info I have shared and if there are any questions just leave a comment below.
Enjoy your weekend everyone!
N.B: As with any supplements always double check with your health practitioner if you are unsure about increasing your magnesium level. Although side effects are rare, if you are taking too much you will notice loose stools, which just tells you to reduce the supplementation, as this may affect your nervous system if doses are too high above 600mg.