Signs you need more magnesium (and where to get it)
Magnesium is an incredibly essential nutrient which is often undervalued, underutilized and disappointingly misunderstood.
While often considered as a nutrient to take to promote sleep or to relax, magnesium is actually an incredibly powerful and comprehensive nutrient which has a substantial impact on your daily health and wellbeing.
In fact, magnesium is involved in over 300 different reactions in the body which are vital for health. Somewhat important you might say!
I'm often asked the question by patients, friends and family "Do you think I need magnesium?". The answer is YES. If you are living, breathing and moving you need magnesium. If you live, breath and move lots you need lots. If you are female you need even more.
Here's a few signs that you currently may not be getting enough of this essential nutrient, plus some tips for how to get more:
Muscle cramps, spasms and tension: A commonly known side effect of magnesium deficiency is muscle tension and cramps. This is because magnesium is the nutrient which actively releases muscle from contraction (calcium causes contraction). So you see if you move you need magnesium. When we are still for long periods of time, when we have exercised intensely or when we are stressed, the muscles can contract excessively. This causes a greater need for muscle relaxant magnesium. If you are low in magnesium you may feel still, sore, tight and crampy. A reasonable dose of oral magnesium, magnesium cream rubbed on to the area or a bath in some magnesium salts (such as epsom salts) at this time can be highly beneficial. Note: this works for menstrual cramps too.
Eye twitches: A less commonly recognised symptom of magnesium deficiency is a persistent or prolonged eye twitch. Have you noticed this happens more on tired days? Stressful days? Days filled with too much coffee? Hungover days? Menstruating days? This is because all of the above deplete magnesium. Now, as we've discussed magnesium controls muscle movement which explains this annoying symptom. When there is a deficiency of magnesium the muscles may over-contract, spasm, twitch or move erratically. A magnesium supplement or meal rich in magnesium including foods such as green leafy vegetables, pumpkin seeds, avocado or black beans will usually resolve this annoying symptom.
Sugar cravings (particularly chocolate): Chocolate, well cacao beans really, are a source of magnesium. Often when we're craving chocolate it is because we're running low in magnesium. Now, while I believe it's absolutely wonderful to have a chocolate boost every day (read more here), it's also important to pay attention when cravings are excessive or frequent. Particularly when you "NEED" your daily chocolate or sugar fix. Magnesium also plays an important role in energy production, blood sugar control and insulin sensitivity. In fact, 300mg of magnesium daily for 6 months has demonstrated to be effective in the treatment and management of insulin resistance.
Anxiety, Insomnia or both: There are many nutrient deficiencies which have been linked to anxiety and insomnia. Magnesium, Iron, Tryptophan and B Vitamins are most common causes. If anxiety or insomnia are short lived and for a real reason - for example you're nervous about a big conversation you need to have with your boss / a presentation you need to give / are excited yet nervous to meet with someone after a long time or are waiting for exam results - a 400mg dose of magnesium can assist to calm you and promote sleep. However if these symptoms are ongoing and from no known cause it would be beneficial to visit a Nutritionist and/or a Psychologist to be assessed. I see many patients who suffer chronic anxiety due to being overworked and under-nurtured - they are undervaluing themselves. A magnesium rich diet coupled with a reduction of stimulants and supplements to support stress tolerance and energy are highly effective. Read more about burn out here
Constipation: The big, bad, energy draining, reflux-causing, weight gaining, toxicity boosting constipation can be caused by many things. From a simple magnesium deficiency (again magnesium controls muscle movement, so poos get stuck when your bowel doesn't relax due to low magnesium), to food intolerances to anxiety to low water intake etc etc. Read more about constipation and how to treat it in my interview with Huffington Post here.
So now we've discussed how important magnesium is, how about we take a moment to discuss how we get more of it...Click here
Otherwise, if this is all you have time for today, then until next time, stay deliciously healthy.
Jennifer May (Adv.Dip.Nut.Med.ATMS.MINDD)