The magic of magnesium

Magnesium is a critical mineral for maintaining health and wellbeing. Unfortunately, do to the abundance of processed foods available today, many people are not getting sufficient amounts of this mineral in their diets. Also, overindulging in caffeinated beverages such as tea or coffee (guilty) can deplete magnesium stores. Magnesium deficiency can manifest in the body in a variety of different ways. Personally, I began to research magnesium as a possible antidote to my TMJ disorder (TMD). I have written about TMD before; for me, it’s basically a painful, tight feeling in my jaw joints that often extends to my neck and shoulders and can be accompanied by tension headaches. Stress and dehydration are major contributing factors, which I try to keep in check. I also use a night guard at night to take some of the pressure off the joints and protect my teeth in case I clench my jaw in my sleep. Despite my best efforts, the pain still seems to return. Long story short, I tried taking a magnesium supplement in the form of a powdered drink, and I noticed an improvement almost immediately. I was cautiously optimistic, as I was worried that this might just be a placebo effect. However, after a couple of weeks of increasing my magnesium intake through my diet and supplements, I still believe that it is really working to relieve my pain. I notice an improvement in my overall mood and comfort level, as I’ve been experiencing way less aches and pains all over my body. My nagging lowering back pain which likes to come and go hasn’t even reared its head since I’ve begun increasing my magnesium intake!

Muscle cramps

People often attribute muscle cramps to a lack of potassium, which can very well be the case. However, magnesium deficiency is also a likely culprit. If you’re suffering from tight, sore muscles, an Epsom salt bath is a good way to get magnesium directly to the affected area. You will need a good two cups of the Epsom salts, fully dissolved in warm bath water. This way the magnesium is absorbed through your skin and can have an immediate effect.

Anxiety/depression

I struggle with anxiety and fatigue simultaneously, which is a challenge because a lot of herbal supplements and pharmaceuticals that treat anxiety can also increase drowsiness. Magnesium has an overall calming effect on the body without being sedating, and can contribute to an overall better feeling mood. Well your body’s getting everything  it needs, it’s a lot easier to have a positive outlook.

Fatigue

It may seem like an oxymoron to say that magnesium can help boost energy and fight fatigue at the same time. However, being deficient in magnesium can contribute to feelings of weakness and fatigue, as well as increase anxiety. Also, getting an adequate amount of magnesium, especially before bed, can help you drift off faster and sleep better. Getting a great night’s sleep will definitely help to combat fatigue.

A great magnesium- rich bedtime snack is a piece of whole grain toast with almond butter. Both whole grains and almonds are sources of magnesium, and the snack is light enough that it won’t cause indigestion before bed.

Osteoporosis

Magnesium enhances absorption of calcium, which in turn contributes to better bone health. You may think that if you’re a young person you don’t need to worry about osteoporosis. However, the majority of the body’s calcium and magnesium is stored in the bones. A chronic deficiency of one or both of these minerals will add up over time and lead to weakened bones later in life. In fact, consuming too much calcium without enough magnesium can actually deplete magnesium stores further, so if you consume a lot of dairy or take calcium supplements it’s essential to make sure you’re getting enough magnesium.

Digestion

Magnesium can help digestion by alleviating constipation (constipation can be a warning sign of magnesium deficiency). Conversely, taking too much magnesium can lead to loose stools or diarrhea (not fun), so take care to increase your intake gradually and not overdo it (more about safe amounts at the bottom).

 

Calm by Natural Vitality is magnesium supplement that comes in powder form and dissolves in water. It tastes great, and I find it really helpful if I’m stressed out or anxious. However, coming from a wellness background, I like to consume my nutrients from food sources whenever possible. That way, I don’t have to question what is in the supplement, and I don’t have to worry about taking too much (it would be very difficult to acquire more than the RDA of magnesium from food sources alone). As a bonus, I’m getting a slew of other nutrients in the process. Some magnesium rich foods include:

Cacao
Avocado
Pumpkin seeds
Spinach
Almonds
Cashews
Bananas

As with anything else, use common sense, and speak with your doctor before trying a new supplement, especially if you are already taking other supplements or medication. The RDA is 400 mg for men and 310 mg for women.

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