Magnesium is one of the most important minerals in the body, yet it is one of the leading nutrient deficiencies in adults today. It is estimated that 80% of North Americans are deficient in this vital mineral. It's used in over 300 reactions in the body and is essential for cellular health, yet is often overlooked and underutilized.
Why is magnesium deficiency so common?
- Soil depletion from industrial agriculture decreases the amount of magnesium present in crops.
- High use of prescription medications and antibiotics damages the digestive tract which decreases mineral absorption and proper utilization from foods. Any digestive disorder can lead to malabsorption of minerals in the digestive tract.
- Stressful conditions (internal or external) increases the body's need for magnesium. Stressful conditions also reduce stomach acid production which further reduces the body's ability to break down food and supplements into absorbable forms.
Common signs and symptoms of magnesium deficiency:
- Muscle pain or leg cramps
- Worsened PMS symptoms
- High blood pressure
8 benefits of magnesium:
1. Helps increase energy - Magnesium is used to create energy in the body by activating ATP. Inadequate magnesium intake means you don't have the energy you need, you fatigue more quickly and require more oxygen during exercise.
2. Calms nerves and anxiety - Magnesium is vital for GABA function which produces happy hormones like serotonin. It regulates certain hormones that are crucial for calming the brain and promoting relaxation. A magnesium deficiency causes an increase in the production of cortisol (known as the stress hormone) by activating a part of the brain that controls responses to stress and anxiety. Magnesium sufficiency prevents the entrance of stress hormones into the brain.
3. Improves sleep - Magnesium helps quiet a racing mind and makes it easier to get a good night sleep. It has been shown to increase sleep time, promote an easier time falling asleep, increase the concentration of melatonin (which is the hormone responsible for inducing sleepiness) and lower levels of hormones associated with stress. It's effective for decreasing symptoms of insomnia, improving sleep efficiency, sleep onset, and aids in early morning awakening (regulating circadian rhythm).
4. Relieves constipation - Magnesium helps relax muscles, including those within the digestive tract, which control the ability to go to the bathroom. Low magnesium intake is associated with significant increase in the prevalence of constipation. Keep in mind that if you experience a laxative effect when taking magnesium supplements you may be taking too high of a dose. Taking a proper dose should help you go to the bathroom easily on a normal schedule but shouldn't cause discomfort or diarrhea.
5. Relieves muscle aches and spasms - Magnesium plays an important role in muscle contractions. It helps muscles relax and prevents cramping and spasms. It balances calcium within the body which is often taken in large amounts without enough magnesium to balance it.
6. Important for cardiovascular health - The highest amount of magnesium within the whole body is in the heart. It works with calcium, sodium, and potassium to support proper blood pressure levels and conduct nerve impulses for normal muscle contraction. Without a proper balance of magnesium to other minerals like calcium, a heart attack can occur due to severe muscle spasms.
7. Helps prevent headaches - Magnesium is involved in neurotransmitter function and blood circulation. It can help reduce headache pain by releasing pain-reducing hormones and reducing constriction of the blood vessels that raise blood pressure
8. Helps prevent osteoporosis - Magnesium is required with calcium for proper bone formation. Higher magnesium intake correlates with increased bone mineral density and balanced blood concentrations of Vitamin D for bone health.
My favourite ways of getting more magnesium into the body:
- Food sources such as bone broth, dark chocolate, avocado, green leafy vegetables
- Epsom salt baths: 2 to 4 cups per bath
- Floatation therapy
- Oral supplementation in magnesium bisglycinate form
- Using a magnesium topical spray or gel
- IV vitamin and mineral therapy
Now I’d love to hear from you. Do you have any of the common signs and symptoms of magnesium deficiency? Have you tried increasing your magnesium intake? What have you noticed? Share and let me know!