Magnesium is an essential mineral that is needed by every cell in the body. Are you getting enough? Asks nutritional therapist, Steph Reynolds.
What is magnesium?
Magnesium is vital as a cofactor for well over 300 reactions in the body. Its roles include: regulating normal nerve and muscle function, maintaining a steady heartbeat, supporting a healthy immune system, maintaining healthy bones; production of protein and energy.
What might be causing deficiency?
Below is a list of lifestyle choices that may be affecting the level of magnesium in your body. If you answer yes to one or more of the following, you may need to top up your magnesium levels through diet or supplementation
– Do you drink carbonated drinks?
Fizzy drinks such as cola’s, contain phosphates that bind with magnesium and cause it to be flushed out of the body.
– Do you regularly enjoy sweets, cakes or chocolates?
Refined sugar foods not only contain little to no magnesium, they also cause the body to excrete magnesium through the kidneys.
– Do you often feel stressed or anxious?
Stress is a major cause for concern for general health and wellbeing for several reasons. With regards to magnesium, it not only depletes your magnesium stores, but when magnesium levels are low the stress reaction is magnified and we feel anxious.
– Do you reach for coffee or tea to keep you going throughout the day?
Caffeinated drinks, such as coffee and energy drinks, cause the kidneys to release extra magnesium.
– Do you play sports or hit the gym a couple of times a week or more?
High intensity exercise, where you are losing a lot of fluids through sweat impacts the levels of magnesium in the body. A decrease in electrolytes in the body during exercise can lead to muscle cramping and spasms
– Do you drink more than seven drinks a week?
Alcohol intake reduces the amount of magnesium available to the cells, as it is excreted by the kidneys.
– Do you take a Calcium supplement?
If your calcium supplement is not combined with magnesium, it can reduce absorption and retention of magnesium in your cells
– Are you over the age of 55?
Older adults are more vulnerable to low levels of magnesium and require a greater intake of magnesium. Generally dietary intakes in older adults are less and absorption from the gut decreases, whilst magnesium excretion increases with age.
– Are you on medication?
Certain medications such as beta blockers and diuretics increase magnesium excretion.
– Do you suffer with digestive problems?
Chronic diarrhea, crohn’s and coeliac disease can lead to depletion of magnesium levels in the body
Things to look out for that could indicate that you have insufficient levels of magnesium:
– Lethargy and fatigue
– Impaired memory
– Anorexia, loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting
– Headaches, migraines or vertigo
– Insomnia, difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
– Muscle spasms, tremors, numbness, tingling, cramps or impaired coordination
– Facial tics or eye twitches
How can I increase my magnesium levels?
If you think you might need to increase your magnesium intake you should begin by eating more magnesium rich foods. Foods high in magnesium include chlorophyll rich vegetables such as kelp, dulse, kale, chard, spinach; nuts and seeds such as almonds, cashews, pecans, brazil nuts and pumpkin seeds. Legumes such as black beans, edamame, peas and kidney beans. Fruit such as bananas and dried apricots. Whole grains such as quinoa, brown rice, oats, buckwheat and millet.
Avoid activities that negatively affect the levels of magnesium in the body such as prolonged stress, consumption of refined sugar, alcohol, caffeinated and carbonated drinks.
Magnesium can be absorbed directly through the skin, topically use magnesium oil directly on skin or salts in a bath or foot bath. It is also a great addition to your bedtime routine, helping to get you relaxed and ready for bed.
Take an oral magnesium supplement, there are many different formulas of magnesium supplements on the market for advice speak to a healthcare professional.
This post was written by Steph Reynolds, Nutritional Therapist and creator of Liver Happy Life: