Naturopath, nutritionist, and medical herbalist Michelle Sanchez explains why magnesium is so mighty!
Magnesium is an essential mineral needed for more than 300 chemical reactions in the body, including producing cellular energy so cells can function, transmitting nerve impulses and pumping the heart. It’s also a vital co-factor nutrient for other minerals including chromium and calcium; without magnesium, these minerals do not work efficiently.
Drinking coffee and alcohol, smoking and eating junk food all rob your body of vital nutrients, including magnesium. Cooking vegetables at a high temperature can result in mineral loss too.
Stress also depletes your levels, and vitamin D deficiency can reduce available magnesium in your body, as vitamin D is needed for its intestinal absorption.
What should I eat to get magnesium into my diet?
Magnesium-rich foods include leafy green vegetables (spinach, kale, rocket, chard) broccoli, green peas, avocado, figs, bananas, raspberries, almonds, cashews, chickpeas, lentils and beans (kidney beans, black beans), quinoa, chia seeds, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds.
Also, supplementing with magnesium may be required. The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) varies per person, dependent on sex, age, and special requirements such as in pregnancy or chronic health conditions. Before supplementing with any mineral, it’s best to consult with a qualified nutritional therapist who can advise you on the correct dose for your individual needs.
How can magnesium support my health?
- Improve energy levels. This is because magnesium, along with B vitamins and CoQ10, fires up cells so they can produce energy.
- Boost your mood. Low levels are linked to low serotonin levels, the feel-good hormone that makes you relaxed and happy.
- Relax muscles. It does this by counteracting the contracting effects of calcium. Both minerals work together to contract and relax the muscles in the body.
- Stimulate muscle recovery. When magnesium levels are low, lactic acid can build up and contribute to cramping and post-workout muscle pain and tightness.
- Balance blood sugar and improve insulin sensitivity. It is needed to get glucose into cells so they can work effectively. People with insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes tend to have lower levels.
- Make bones strong. It activates calcium and vitamin D, collectively working with these nutrients to grow and repair bones.
- Promote sleep and reduce anxiety. Magnesium helps you produce a neurotransmitter called GABA, which helps calm the mind and body.
- Maintain hydration. Along with sodium, potassium and calcium, magnesium is an important electrolyte needed for water balance in the body.
- Prevent migraines. When levels are low, arteries to the brain contract and chemicals are released, causing sensitivity to pain.