Magnesium - what is it and why do I need it in my diet?
Did you know that magnesium is essential in over 300 biochemical reactions in your body? It is a vital nutrient but often forgotten about. When you are not getting enough magnesium in your diet you may start to notice minor conditions starting to appear. Quite often, people don’t think about magnesium when it comes to not feeling well but it is something that you should be aware of.
The good news is that if you are aware that you are not getting enough magnesium, you can do something about it. This is something that I track with people, and my clients have access to an app that easily calculates the amount of magnesium (and the other vitamins and minerals) that they are consuming through food.
So why is magnesium so important?Well as I said it is used in over 300 biochemical functions within the body. These can be summarised under the following headings:
- Blood pressure regulation
- Energy metabolism
- Neurotransmitter release
- Glutathione production - the master antioxidant!
- Blood sugar control
- Nerve function
- Protein synthesis
The above are pretty essential for good health and therefore if you are deficient in magnesium, you may notice not feeling as well as you should. Have a look through the following symptoms of a lack of magnesium in the diet and see if any are relevant to you.
1 Lack of Energy
Suffering from fatigue is quite common when you are low in magnesium. Magnesium supports the mitochondria to produce energy. It also supports the body being able to release energy from the food that we eat. Therefore without magnesium your body may feel drained and exhausted.
2 Brain Fog
Do you ever feel that you are suffering from brain fog or a fuzzy head? Magnesium is essential in order for the brain to function optimally and therefore if you are lacking in it you may not be as “switched on” as you normally would.
3 Diabetes/Poor blood sugar regulation
Magnesium is a very important mineral for glucose absorption, if you don’t have enough of it, your blood sugars may not be stable - especially if you are eating a diet of highly refined carbohydrates - and this may lead to type 2 diabetes
4 Sleep Issues
Magnesium is involved in the production of the neurotransmitter GABA. This relaxes the body to prepare for sleep. Therefore, without magnesium and subsequently GABA, you may not be able to get to sleep. Sleep is vital for long term health as it is when the body repairs itself, so make sure that you try to get a good nights sleep. Have a bath with Epsom salts in it to help as this is an easy way to get magnesium into your body and the hot bath will help with relaxation as well.
5 Anxiety and Depression
If GABA is low over a period of time it can also lead to mood disorders. If your mind can’t relax, it can have a knock on effect on your sleep and therefore a long term effect on your health. Magnesium is often referred as "nature's chill pill" and therefore if you are lacking in it, anxiety issues may arise.
6 Bowel Issues
Constipation can be a sign that you may be lacking in magnesium. If you aren’t eating enough fibre along side not getting enough magnesium, it can play havoc with your digestion and lead to constipation. Many clients that I work with are not getting enough fibre - the recommended level is 30g a day - and many are only getting around 10-15g daily. Magnesium can aid bowel movements and along side fibre and sufficient water can help alleviate this issue.
7 Bone issues
Did you know that calcium can not do its job with out magnesium? Most people think of calcium when it comes to strong bones, however, magnesium is also important. If you are lacking in magnesium, calcium will be unable to do its job at strengthening your bones. Magnesium is also very important for muscle growth in order to support your bones
8 Muscle Issues
Muscle pain and cramping can be as a result of lowered magnesium levels especially if they are occurring late at night and during sleep. Restless legs has also be linked to a lowered magnesium level. Magnesium is essential for muscle relaxation and very important in the body’s ability to regulate calcium levels within nerve cells. If magnesium is low and calcium regulation is poor, it may result in numbness and tingling in the body. Menstrual cramps have also been noted as being worse when magnesium levels are low.
If you are suffering from headaches regularly - no matter the intensity (mild, tension, migraine), it can be a sign of low magnesium levels . Magnesium is an essential nutrition for brain function.
10 High Blood Pressure
There are lots of things that can have an effect on your blood pressure - stress being the primary thing - but a lack of magnesium can also increase it. Magnesium is a natural way to lower your blood pressure. When it comes to blood pressure, please ensure that you are very careful and if necessary consult your doctor.
Do you recognise any of these signs?
I hope this list helps. It is not designed to panic you but give you knowledge so that you can look at how you are feeling and if some of how you are feeling is linked to a low intake of magnesium in your diet.
When your body is functioning optimally, you should not experience any of the above symptoms and it is really important to recognise that feeling like crap is not normal.
When you balance your body with high quality foods and supplement where necessary, you can feel amazing!! Age is only a number, do not accept that you have to grow old and feel awful. You can feel amazing later in life - when you do things right.
Yours in Health and Happiness