Magnesium is a natural mineral and one of the body's electrolytes which is needed for hundreds of enzyme reactions within the body. Magnesium is essential for our health and vitality. Magnesium also helps other minerals do their job. Without enough magnesium, it has a knock on effect where other minerals are less efficient.
Magnesium plays a pivotal role in just about every bodily process. It affects our:
blood sugar balance
About 99% of the body's magnesium is stored in bones, muscles and soft tissues. Only 1% is concentrated in the blood.
Why are we low in magnesium?
Many people have suboptimal levels of magnesium in our modern world. Farming technologies mean that many vegetables are grown hydroponically, eliminating the need for soil where this nutrient would normally be absorbed from into the plant.
Farming methods have over-farmed soils, leaving them depleted of essential minerals. Our food isn't the reliable source of magnesium that it used to be. This means it can be possible to be low in magnesium, even when you have a healthy diet.
On top of this, magnesium is one of the first nutrients lost from the body during dehydration and stress. We can't store the mineral very well in our bodies so we need to ensure that we supply our cells with a constant source of it.
Diets that don't provide enough leafy green vegetables, nuts and seeds or wholemeal grains will be lacking in magnesium. On top of this, if you have a high sugar or refined carbohydrate diet, drink caffeinated beverages or alcohol, you will not be providing your body with enough magnesium.
Low levels of magnesium have been linked to a whole host of chronic conditions, including Alzheimers, bone related issues, diabetes and heart disease. Besides these conditions, having sub-optimal levels can cause many symptoms including:
Twitches - eyelids and muscle twitches
Depression or low mood
Blood sugar imbalances
Cravings for sweet or chocolate foods
Anxiety, tension or overwhelm
PMT and period pain
Muscle weakness and cramps
Restless leg syndrome
The ability to absorb magnesium from your food can be negatively impacted, leaving you urinating it back out again. Magnesium absorption is affected by:
Drinking tea and coffee within half an hour of a meal will cause the magnesium to be bound to tannins in the drink and being unable to be absorbed.
If you are eating calcium rich foods at the same time as magnesium foods, the amount that you will absorb will be lower. This is because calcium and magnesium compete for absorption.
If you are low in vitamin D you will not absorb as much magnesium from your food. This is because vitamin D is a cofactor for its absorption.
Over-cooking vegetables will cause minerals to be lost from the food.
Magnesium rich foods
The following foods are high in magnesium content:
Leafy green vegetables - spinach, chard, Kale, Broccoli, green beans and peas
Almonds, peanuts and cashews
Magnesium skin therapy
You can also increase your magnesium content by using magnesium skin products. Magnesium can cross the skin barrier and enter the blood. This is called transdermal absorption.
One of the best ways that you can do this is to have epsom salt baths 2 or 3 times a week. If you have any kind of heart condition, you should not do this. For everyone else, a good mug sized portion of epsom salts or magnesium sulphate in your bath water will not only encourage transdermal absorption but also helps you sweat out toxins. It is important to take some drinking water to have alongside your epsom salt bath, and be prepared to sweat.
You can also buy magnesium sprays and lotions that you apply along the length of your limbs after a bath or shower. If you are low in magnesium, this may tickle and itch for a short time after you apply it. This itchy feeling will stop as your magnesium levels get higher.
Thrive Clinical Nutrition and Naturopathic Health Eve Morley BA hons. NT. FNTP. AMNNA. Soc Nat
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