Magnesium is an essential mineral that is used by the body in over 300 different biochemical processes- such as energy production, muscle health, heart function, brain function, blood sugar management and as part of our stress response. It is one of the most common deficiencies that I see in clinic because it is used for so many things in the body, it is also very easily depleted. Australian soils also tend to be low in magnesium, which can mean it is hard to reach our daily magnesium targets through food alone. For this reason magnesium supplementation may be useful for your health.
Common signs of magnesium deficiency include:
- Muscle cramps and spasms- especially in the feet and calves and often at night
- Eye twitching
- Muscle tremors or twitching
- Restless legs
- Jerking or twitching in your sleep
- Poor resilience to stress
- Low energy levels
Who needs magnesium? Well the short answer is EVERYONE! However there are some specific conditions and health complications that will benefit from magnesium supplementation. High stress levels or anxiety is the most common reason that I would prescribe magnesium to my patients. Stress causes an increased requirement for magnesium, meaning that you use up more magnesium when under stress. Magnesium has a calming effect on the nervous system which can help you feel relaxed and at ease. Magnesium is also important for those with cardiovascular health issues such as high blood pressure and to support healthy heart tissue function. Many studies have found magnesium to be useful for reducing blood pressure. Magnesium aids sleep quality and can help to ensure you are getting the most out of your sleep. It also has a big role to play in blood sugar regulation and is useful for people with diabetes, high glucose or high insulin levels. It is a muscle relaxant that reduces muscle tightness and aids the healing of muscle injuries by relaxing muscle fibres. For this reason, magnesium is useful for people doing a lot of exercise to aid muscle recovery and repair. Its antispasmodic actions make it useful for women experiencing period pain. One of the most important functions of magnesium is for energy production so it is very useful for fatigue.
Luckily there are some great food based sources of magnesium:
- Green leafy veggies- Such as kale, spinach, beet green or silverbeet. Try including a daily green smoothie into your routine for some extra green veggies. Ensure you have something green and leafy on your dinner plate each night.
- Nuts and seeds- Raw almonds, cashews, brazil nuts, walnuts, pepitas and sesame seeds are the best sources. Add into your cereal or yoghurt, or snack on these between meals.
- Whole grains- Quinoa, whole wheat, buckwheat, rye, brown rice, millet. Wheat bran and wheat germ are quite high and these can be added into a smoothie or cereals.
- Cacao- Yes chocolate is high in magnesium and this may be why some people crave it. Stick to dark chocolate (the others are high in sugar and heavily processed) or use cacao powder or nibs in cereals, smoothies, yoghurt or bliss balls.
Include the foods listed above regularly in your diet and you will be able to keep your magnesium at an adequate level. If you think you may be deficient, please check with one of our Naturopaths and we can run you through the best forms and supplements available.
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