The Mighty Mineral: Magnesium

Some health experts consider Magnesium to be the number 1 mineral absolutely vital for good health and in today’s world people just aren’t getting enough of it.

Magnesium plays a critical role in helping your body produce energy, maintain healthy cell function, aids digestion by breaking down carbohydrates, protein and fat, regulates calcium absorption helping to keep your bones strong, keeps blood pressure low and many other functions. In fact, magnesium is required in over 100 different functions in the body.

Despite magnesium being available in a wide range of foods including vegetables, nuts, grains, legumes and dark chocolate, research has shown that many people are deficient in this vital mineral. A CSIRO study in Australia found that 50% of males and 39% of females had a daily intake below the RDI (recommended daily intake), while in the United States the deficiency appears more common with approximately 80-85% of females and 50-65% of males consuming less than the American RDI.

The reason for this can be explained when looking at what depletes magnesium stores in the body. Stress, alone is a key contributor to depleting magnesium but a diet with regular alcohol, coffee, sugar, salt, carbonated drinks and artificial sweeteners also strip the magnesium from the body’s stores. In this modern age, the large majority of people live with daily stress and eat a diet high in all those factors that strip this key nutrient so it’s not surprising that deficiency is common. Symptoms of deficiency include headaches, irritability, nervous tension, fatigue, twitchy muscles, IBS, constipation, cramp, heart palpitations, anxiety, muscle aches, PMT, high blood pressure, insomnia, the list goes on!

The best foods high in magnesium are green leafy vegetables, raw unsalted nuts and seeds, whole grains (pre-processing) and legumes such as lentils and chickpeas. However diet alone is sometimes not enough, in this case supplementation is necessary. When choosing a magnesium supplement make sure you analyse what type of magnesium is actually used as some forms (ie magnesium oxide) is predominantly used as a laxative. The best forms of magnesium for absorption are citrate, amino acid chelate or diglycinate. These are easy on the digestive system and do not cause the unwanted side effect of diarrhoea.

 

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