When you’re a nutrition geek (like me) you don’t just have a list of favourite foods, but you also have geek-like-wellness-crushes (Hello Rupy Aujla) and yes… favourite minerals.
Top of my list at the moment is Magnesium – there’s a running joke that I’m HIGHLY likely to recommend people look into a decent magnesium supplement. Now, I’m not being lazy with my supplement choices – but Magnesium is incredibly important for the body – in fact, it is needed by every cell in the human body and is required for more than 300 biochemical processes & enzyme reactions that take place within each and every one of us. Now imagine that those 300 processes aren’t getting the tools they need to work? Not good.
Ok so, there’s no time to list all 300 processes, but this miracle mineral is crucial in; Energy production, a functioning immune system, muscular contractions, healthy heart rhythm, nerve impulses, mood regulation and the formation of bones and teeth. Frighteningly however, the majority of us are lacking in this crucial compound.
Recent predictions quote that between 70-80% of the UK population are not meeting their recommended intake in Magnesium – along with zinc, this is the most frequent mineral deficiency found in our country.
What’s making us low in magnesium?
Truthfully… MANY things. Magnesium is used for so many processes in the body that we must consistently replenish our stores. We’d traditionally get our magnesium from foods – back in the day when our soils were lush and packed full of minerals. Unfortunately our soils are so over-worked & over farmed and therefore are as depleted in magnesium as we are.
And let’s be real – that’s just taking into account those of us who manage to eat plenty of whole foods everyday. Highly processed, refined foods that make up the majority of modern western diets aren’t quite ticking the box when it comes to high magnesium content.
On top of this is our current social environment – the highly stressed, busy & booze-filled world we live in now simply burns through those magnesium stores like something… burny. If you’re stressed and drinking a lot – pay attention, you are at risk. Further still, gastrointestinal problems can also cause magnesium depletion by preventing the body from absorbing the magnesium that is contained in food.
Managing our stress levels are crucial for our overall health (see my videos about that here & here) and a great way to ensure we can do this is by using Magnesium correctly
What does magnesium deficiency look like?
There are a few stages of magnesium depletion that we consider;
Subclinical insufficiency – This is where us Nutritional Therapists come in – we’re depletion detectives and often see signs that people are starting to become deficient and catch it here.
Physically, a common sign is muscle twitches, cramps or weakness – especially at night. Due to its close relationship with Calcium and Vitamin D – Magnesium depletion is also associated with osteoporosis and other bone related conditions such as dental cavities.
Magnesium is also incredibly influential in our mood. Observational studies have associated low magnesium levels with an increased risk of depression & anxiety. It effects our ability to sleep well and in some cases is related to fatigue & mental exhaustion.
Furthermore, magnesium deficiency may increase blood pressure, which, in turn, increases the risk of heart disease.
Classical / ‘End-stage’ deficiency – subclinical deficiency is often under-diagnosed since the obvious signs commonly don’t appear until your levels become severely low. The signs and symptoms at this stage get much more serious. Those annoying muscle cramps? Well in worst case scenarios, they can turn into seizures or convulsions in end stage deficiency. Those heart related symptoms can result in heart arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat) and can create metabolic changes that may even contribute to heart attacks and strokes. Scary stuff
So, in summary – Healthy magnesium, good. Low magnesium, bad.
How to give yourself a Magnesium Boost
Ok Ok I hear you – you now know why Magnesium is important but how do you get enough?
When it comes to the richest food sources – my fave; DLG’s (Dark Leafy Greens) top the list – plus legumes, nuts, seeds, wholegrains and soybeans. Remember though you need to aim for 8-10 veggies & fruit a day plus due to soil depletion & your personal need for Magnesium, you may need a little bit more that this…
Super Supplements & Salts
I use a whole range of brands for supplementation (which are TOP quality – no not Holland& Barrett thanks) – and would only give you personal recommendations using your case history as best practice.
However there’s some great products out there which are more focused on transdermal absorption (through the skin) – our skin is our largest organ AND is extremely good at absorption. When you apply directly onto the skin, the magnesium is quickly absorbed into the epidermis, through to the blood vessels and muscles beneath, completely bypassing the digestive system where some may have difficulties with absorption.
My favourite brand for this at the moment is BetterYou – their magnesium range is LUSH. Their Sleep Lotion especially smells incredible as it also uses Lavender and chamomile which help slow sensory activity , quieten the mind & promotes sleep – the perfect bedtime luxury. I also love using their magnesium oil spray on my joints and muscles post workout or when I’ve got some aches and pains. Oh, and the cherry on the top? Their packaging is manufactured from carbon-negative, plant-based materials.
AD: At the time of writing this article they have an amazing deal on with 33% off across the Magnesium range and they are also giving away a FREE 15ml Magnesium Oil Body Spray with any purchase through the site so customers can trial the Magnesium Oil if they have never used it before. If you miss out on this though they have kindly offered my lovely readers a 15% discount if you use the code WOODHURST15
People are also often surprised when I suggest Epsom Salt Baths for magnesium intake – Epsom salts are actually Magnesium Sulphate or Chloride and can be used in the bath (or footbath for me… damn you landlord) as a great way to remineralise.
Want an even bigger hit?! Try Floatation. Float pods have approximately 550kg of magnesium salts in them – trust me when I say if you spend an hour in a float pod you certainly feel restored and replenished! I’ll be writing a blog post about floating and its benefits soon so watch this space
Do you use Magnesium in your day-to-day? I’d love to know how and if you’re found it helpful! Comment below