Do you suffer with muscle cramps, facial tics, poor sleep, anxiety or chronic pain? These are just some of the many tell-tale signs of a magnesium deficiency. In an ideal world we’d all get enough vitamins and minerals from our diet. Unfortunately, the odds are really stacked against us.
Why are so many people deficient?
Research shows that the magnesium content of supermarket food is 40% lower than that of 50 years ago. The industrialisation of agriculture is to blame for this dramatic reaction. You can’t expect to grow nutrient dense crops from nutrient poor soils.
Most of the magnesium that was once high in soil has been washed away into the ocean. For this reason, seaweed is one of the best food sources. Unfortunately, this is not exactly a staple in the Irish diet! To make matters worse, we remove most of this mineral from our drinking water during the cleaning process. The fluoride that is added, binds to the most of the remaining magnesium and forms a compound that is difficult to digest.
The following increase your risk of having a deficiency:
- You’re stressed or suffer with anxiety
- You exercise at a high intensity
- You drink alcohol or caffeinated drinks regularly
- You’re on the birth control pill
- You supplement or consume an excess of calcium
- You’re over 55
- You have impaired digestion
Why is it so important?
Every single cell in the human body demands adequate magnesium to function, or it will perish. It’s vital for healthy bones and teeth, energy, vitamin D, metabolism, muscle relaxation, insulin sensitivity, healthy hormones, detoxification, proper digestion, glucose tolerance, as well as cardiovascular health. It’s the one nutrient that can boost energy levels during the day and help you sleep like a baby at night. No wonder it’s often referred to as the ‘magic mineral’.
It has such a long list of health benefits that it’s almost impossible to remember them all. Or maybe you could, magnesium also assists with memory, learning and cognitive function!
Best food sources:
- Leafy greens
Although grains and beans contain a decent amount of magnesium (provided they were grown in magnesium rich soil) they also contain ‘anti-nutrients’ such as phytic acid. These compounds bind to magnesium and other minerals and prevent them from being absorbed in the body.
Benefits of Magnesium:
- Better sleep – Production of the sleep regulating hormone melatonin is inhibited when magnesium is deficient. It calms the body and controls stress hormones. Stress and tension are often reasons why people suffer from insomnia in the first place.
- Relaxes the nervous system – Serotonin, which relaxes the nervous system and elevates mood, is dependent on magnesium. Several studies have shown that this mineral can help combat tension headaches and migraines.
- Energy production – It plays a key role in ATP production, which could be described as the energy currency for the body.
- No more cramps – It loosens tight muscles. Without magnesium, muscles do not relax properly and cramps occur. It is also important for flexibility because low magnesium results in a build up of lactic acid, causing pain and tightness.
- Them bones, them bones need magnesium – Taking a calcium supplement cannot only be useless but also downright dangerous if it’s not balanced with an adequate intake of magnesium. It is an essential nutrient for bone health. It stimulates the hormone involved in building up bones and inhibits the hormone that breaks it down.
- Healthy teeth – Magnesium deficiency causes an unhealthy balance of phosphorous and calcium in saliva, which damages tooth enamel.
- Alkalises the body – Magnesium helps to balance the body’s pH. It reduces lactic acid, which is the main cause of post exercise muscle soreness.
- Hydration – It is an essential electrolyte. Dehydration often occurs as a result of an electrolyte deficiency.
- Assists digestion – Magnesium can be used to cleanse the bowel of toxins. As it has a relaxing effect on the body it can be useful in treating constipation.
- Insulin resistance – It enhances insulin secretion, which facilitates sugar metabolism. Without magnesium, glucose is not able to transfer into cells. Glucose and insulin build up in the blood, causing various types of tissue damage.
What to look for in a supplement?
Magnesium supplements come in all different types, however, many of them are poorly absorbed. A good supplement will include different forms of the mineral, with one source being chelated. Magnesium Pharma Nord contains 3 forms of magnesium including chelated magnesium acetate. It fully dissolves in water within a matter of seconds, indicating its excellent bioavailability. If you are taking a magnesium supplement that doesn’t rapidly break down in an aqueous solution, your body will have a difficult time digesting it.
Written by Veronica Burke, Health & Nutrition Coach, Marketing Coordinator Pharma Nord, www.pharmanord.ie