Got issues with sleep?
A crampy leg? Or a touch of restless legs perhaps?
Anxiety, migraine, PMS, high blood pressure or just some general fatigue or blood sugar imbalance?
What’s the common denominator in all of these conditions you may ask?
The answer is magnesium, or more accurately the lack thereof.
The picture of deficiency is so varied due to the magnesium’s essential role in our bodies.
In fact, magnesium is involved in over 300 essential enzymatic reactions within our bodies & therefore is of central importance in the biochemistry of each cell in our body!
Magnesium is required for functions such as:
- Nerve conduction
- The metabolism of carbohydrates & fats for energy
- Muscle activity
- The synthesis of amino acids and protein
- Immune function
Good food sources of magnesium include legumes, wholegrains, nuts, dark leafy greens, cocoa (chocolate totally counts), seeds and nuts.
You eat all these on the daily you say? But still experience two or more of the above complaints??
Well, let’s go over what might be getting between you and magnesium.
Stress- All the nerves in your body use magnesium to help send messages along the nerve pathways. Over-studying, excess physical activity, over work, prolonged periods of stress, grief -anything that taxes the brain or the body can deplete the body of magnesium.
Soil depletion- Unfortunately farming practices and changes in growing cycles means our food is not as abundant in minerals and vitamins as it once was.
Phytates- A bound form of potassium found in food such as seeds, nuts and legumes. Phytates bind to minerals such as magnesium and cause them to be lost from the body rather than utilised. See our post on sprouting & soaking to learn more about breaking phytates down.
Compromised gut integrity: It always comes back to the gut! Since most magnesium is absorbed in the small intestines, issues like celiac disease, Crohn’s disease and regional enteritis all have a tendency to cause magnesium deficiency
Western Diet- Magnesium intake has declined substantially since the beginning of last century, with dietary surveys showing the average intake in Western countries is often below the recommended daily intake.
Ageing: As we age our ability to absorb nutrients decreases.
If you think you might be more severely magnesium deficient and you want to improve your levels more quickly, you may consider taking an all-natural supplement.
Magnesium supplements come in a variety of salts (citrate, oxide, gluconate, orotate etc.) which can be confusing.
- Magnesium Chelate — a form of magnesium that bonds to multiple amino acids and is in the same state as the food we consume and highly absorbable by the body.
- Magnesium Citrate — is also very highly absorbed. The bonding of citrate to magnesium gives it a laxative property which is something to keep in mind if you have a sensitive tummy.
- Magnesium Glycinate — is a chelated form of magnesium that tends to provide high levels of absorption and bioavailability and is typically considered ideal for those who are trying to correct a deficiency.
Too much magnesium from food sources alone won’t pose a risk because any excess magnesium that the body doesn’t need is easily flushed out in the urine.
It’s possible, however, to ingest too much magnesium from magnesium supplements.
One side effect of too much magnesium supplements is the laxative effect that it potentially causes, such as diarrhoea and sometimes nausea and abdominal cramping.
To prevent a laxative effect, stick to the proper dose of magnesium and aim to have no more than 300-400 milligrams at one dose.
Some people with sensitive stomachs find it helpful to break up their dose throughout the day.
80% of the population are estimated to be magnesium deficient, so if you’re experiencing any of the symptoms listed above then supplementing your diet with magnesium may a good place to start.