Stress Less and Sleep Better – Are You Getting Enough Magnesium?
Every little cell in our body needs magnesium to function. We require it for strong bones and teeth, balanced hormones, a healthy nervous system, healthy heart and cardiovascular system, well-functioning detoxification pathways and so much more! The highest concentrations of magnesium in the body are the brain and heart—two pretty crucial organs don’t you think?
How does magnesium deficiency happen?
- Modern farming and the use of heavy pesticides can often deplete the soil of magnesium.
- Anti-nutrients such as tannins (found in tea), oxalates (found in spinach), and phytic acid (found in nuts, seeds & grains) all bind with magnesium, making it hard for the body to absorb magnesium from food.
- Lactose (found in milk) is an inhibitor of magnesium absorption.
- Some pharmaceutical drugs can cause the body to lose magnesium via urine, such as diuretics for hypertension; birth control pills; insulin; digitalis; tetracycline and some other antibiotics; and corticosteroids and bronchodilators for asthma.
- Magnesium absorption is impeded with the use of supplemental iron.
- If you take calcium supplements, your need for magnesium increases.
- Mental and physical stress (and the flow of adrenaline) can use up magnesium rapidly.
- Heavy sweating from endurance sports or strenuous exercise workouts can deplete magnesium stores and other electrolytes.
- A healthy gut environment is necessary for proper absorption of magnesium from the diet. Irritable bowel syndrome, leaky gut, candidiasis and other gut disorders can severely limit the amount of magnesium that the body will be able to absorb.
- Older adults often experience decreased stomach hydrochloric acid production, which can impair mineral absorption in general.
What will magnesium do for me?
- Magnesium is required for muscle relaxation (like calcium is required for contracting muscles). When excess calcium enters our bodily cells because of insufficient magnesium – we get sustained muscle contractions, twitches (ever had an eye twitch?) and cramping. When magnesium deficiency becomes chronic, hypertension (high blood pressure), asthma, migraine headaches and painful menstrual cramping can result.
- Magnesium is responsible for converting vitamin D to the active form.
- The nervous system depends on magnesium for its calming effects, including restful sleep. Magnesium deficiency will accelerate a vicious cycle and intensify the effects of chronic stress, leading to more anxiety, irritability, fatigue and insomnia—many of the symptoms of adrenal exhaustion.
- Depression is related to stress and magnesium deficiency as well. Serotonin, the “feel good” hormone, requires magnesium in its delicate balance of release and reception by cells in the brain. Only when adequate levels are present can we enjoy mental and emotional equilibrium.
Can supplements help me get more magnesium?
- Diet will always be the foundation for sustained magnesium levels, but sometimes we require a boost of magnesium to help us on our way. I can recommend the right product for you – there are many brands and products with varying degrees of efficacy. Products need to be considered with your diet and lifestyle in mind.
How can I get more magnesium in my diet?
- Leafy green vegetables, seeds, nuts (almonds, cashews, brazil nuts, NOT peanuts) and whole grains are good sources of magnesium.
Here are a few tips:
- Snack on nuts and seeds daily or consume nut butters (such as ABC – Almond, Brazil, Cashew butter).
- Drink black tea and coffee away from meals. The tannins in black tea can bind to magnesium, impairing absorption.
- Soak grains and nuts to “activate” them. This simply means you are breaking down the anti-nutrients that block absorption.
- If you are taking calcium supplementation, make sure you are getting enough magnesium – they work in tandem.
- If you are stressed, anxious, or participate in heavy exercise consider supplementing with magnesium.
Food Sources of Magnesium
Kelp (seaweed) – 760mg
Wheat germ – 490mg
Almonds – 270mg
Cashews – 267mg
Blackstrap molasses – 258mg
Buckwheat – 229mg
Brazil nuts – 225mg
Walnuts – 131mg
Rye – 115mg
Avocado – 45mg
Parsley – 41mg
Sweet potato – 31mg
Broccoli – 24mg
Cauliflower – 24mg
Beef – 21mg
Chicken – 19mg