Have you been feeling a little stressed and off your game lately? Maybe you’re having trouble sleeping?
If so, it could be due to a magnesium deficiency.
And if you suffer from a magnesium deficiency, it could leave you feeling stressed, anxious and even moody.
Magnesium is one of those nutrients we don’t hear about too much, despite the fact that it’s one of the most abundant minerals in the human body.
Moreover, it’s the fourth most abundant mineral that we have!
So what role does magnesium play in our lives?
Do we really need to be consuming magnesium or taking supplements?
Consider the following:
- Magnesium helps lower our stress levels. In fact, magnesium is often referred to as the “relaxation mineral.” Serotonin, which is a natural mood stabilizer found mostly in our digestive system, requires magnesium for its production.
- Therefore, it’s recommended that we get enough magnesium to help manage our stress, anxiety and mood disorders. In turn, a magnesium deficiency can affect our stress level and emotional state.
- Magnesium is used in hospitals and given intravenously to patients, who are having heart palpitations – the magnesium helps slow down their heart rate.
- Magnesium is necessary for numerous chemical reactions in our body, including making DNA.
- Magnesium helps maintain our brain function by relaying signals between our body and our brain. It prevents overstimulation of nerve cells, which could result in brain damage (calcium stimulates nerves, whereas magnesium soothes them).
- Magnesium helps regulate muscle contractions – (calcium is required for the contraction of muscles whereas magnesium helps our muscles relax). Magnesium is commonly recommended for treating muscle cramps.
- Magnesium has also been linked to helping reduce the risk of many diseases, including arthritis, heart disease and diabetes. Several studies have shown that migraine headaches are associated with low levels of magnesium.
Yet, despite magnesium being so abundant in our body, many people don’t get enough of it.
According to Consumer Reports, in June of 2017, approximately 50 percent of Americans and 70 to 80 percent of older adults (70+) aren’t getting their daily magnesium needs met. Magnesium homeostasis is mostly controlled by the kidneys. Urinary output of magnesium for older adults tends to increase with age, while gut absorption of magnesium tends to decrease as one ages. In addition, the older population tends to eat less magnesium-rich foods and to take medicines, such as diuretics, that can impact magnesium levels.
So how much magnesium should we be consuming on a daily basis to keep our body functioning as it should?
The recommended dietary allowance for adult (age 31+) men is 420 mg/day, while for adult (age 31+) women it’s 320 mg/day.
Could there be consequences from consuming too much magnesium or not enough magnesium?
- Too much magnesium can cause various symptoms, including diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, lethargy and irregular heartbeat.
- Therefore, you might not want to take a supplement that contains magnesium if you’re already getting enough magnesium through your food and other sources.
- A magnesium deficiency (called hypomagnesemia) could lead to various health conditions, including muscle twitches and cramps, osteoporosis, fatigue, high blood pressure, asthma, heart disease and diabetes.
Now that we know the importance of magnesium, where do we find it?
Magnesium is primarily stored in our bones with a very small amount circulating in our bloodstream.
And some good news! It can also be found in plenty of magnesium-rich natural food sources such as:
- Pumpkin seeds
- Raw almonds and cashews (raw nuts are better than roasted nuts – roasted nuts lose magnesium during the roasting process)
- Dark chocolate
- Black beans, peas and soybeans
- Green leafy vegetables (spinach)
- Whole grains (oat bran)
- Herbs (coriander, chives, dill and sage)
Magnesium can also be absorbed through the skin, so consider using a magnesium oil or lotion that contains magnesium.
But, clearly the easiest (and yummiest) way of getting in your daily magnesium is to include plenty of food sources high in this multi-tasking mineral, such as a creamy pumpkin seed butter.
Before you consume more magnesium or take magnesium supplements, please be sure to consult with a qualified physician before engaging in any significant diet, fitness, or lifestyle change or making any changes with regard to supplements, herbs, vitamins or prescription drugs.
In the comments box below, we’d all appreciate hearing about any experience(s) you’ve had with a magnesium deficiency. Have you had one? Do you think you might not be getting enough magnesium? If you have a magnesium deficiency, what have you done to achieve a better balance? As always, we’d love to hear from you.