Magnesium, a VERY Busy Mineral

Oh boy, I think Magnesium has definitely a full-time and a few part-time jobs as well. It’s a hard-working mineral assisting with countless functions in the body, including bone health, digestion,  metabolism, muscle movement, etc.

I learned about this important mineral when I took part in my first nutrition course about 40 years ago.  But already then we were told that our soil is becoming depleted in minerals. And by now soil depletion has become a ‘thing’ which means our produce is now much lower on nutrients than before.

Including magnesium.
Estimates state that over the past 100 years vegetables have dropped magnesium levels by 80–90% in the U.S. and the UK. And that is scary.

Why? Because now a substantial portion of the population has magnesium intake way below the dietary benchmark and are often testing as deficient. Especially women over 50.

In 2018 one study called magnesium deficiency “a public health crisis”.

A health crisis? Little did they know a virus was just around the corner in 2020 and 2021…. …But let us quickly move on, in more ways than one.
Having too low levels of magnesium is linked with hypertension, diabetes, and neurological disorders, heart problems, depression, and lethargy just to name a few.

So how do we get enough of this mineral?

A good first step would be to make sure you’re consuming plenty of those plant foods that are marked as magnesium-rich foods. Like avocado.

Lucky us: many plant foods contain it. Have a look at this list over HERE 

Check if you get close to the recommended daily intake of around 320mg for females. But please note, the amounts in any lists are close estimates only. You may need to consume a bit more of these foods to ‘actually’ reach the right levels.

If at the end of this article you say ‘AHA….I might consider taking some magnesium supplements!’ please note we should not take more than 350mg supplemental magnesium a day. Taking higher doses could interfere with several medications and can cause health problems. Those with kidney problems should not consider taking magnesium supplements.

And to make things a little but more complicated for us, there are several different types of magnesium supplements.  Each one offers benefits for specific health concerns. Check out the various types over HERE

Have you ever had a test to see your magnesium levels are up to scratch?
Scientists previously believed that the measurement of magnesium in the human blood is accurate. But they recently realized that only a tiny percentage of this mineral exists in the serum (blood), namely about 1%. The rest is stored in muscles, bones, and various organs.

Therefore a blood test can’t always give us the full picture if we are deficient. This means many cases of magnesium deficiency are undiagnosed because they are rarely closely evaluated. And to top it off, not all clinicians are aware of the many clinical states in which deficiency of this mineral may occur.

So let’s look up what magnesium could help us with

Magnesium can help to reduce cravings because it assists to regulate glucose and insulin levels.
If our blood sugar and insulin levels to go up and down like a yo-yo due to unhelpful food choices, we can experience cravings and hunger. Therefore an important step is to improve your diet. Use lower glycemic carbs and team them with protein and fibre rich foods. This alone can reduce blood sugar spikes. And back this up with magnesium-rich foods to further help prevent cravings.

Improved sleep
Falling estrogen and low magnesium levels can cause poor sleep, insomnia, and mood changes. Especially after we hit 40. And as we already know, poor sleep increases hunger hormones and fat layering. Magnesium glycinate would be the favoured supplement for the above sleep problems.
It helps our brain and body to relax and it’s involved in regulating the hormone called melatonin, which guides sleep-wake cycles in your body.

Boost Your Exercise Performance
During exercise, we use around 10-20% more magnesium than when we sit around watching TV or scroll through Facebook.
This mineral helps to push blood sugar into muscles for more energy.  It assists to remove lactate build-up that can cause muscle fatigue during exercise. Worth a try focusing on this mineral if you exercise regularly.

Lowers Blood Pressure
If you have high blood pressure and are not on medication, this could be something to check out. Several studies showed that magnesium supplements could help reduce hypertension by increasing a molecule that helps relax the blood vessels.

The website Healthline mentioned that: “A review of 11 randomized studies found that 365–450 mg magnesium taken daily over an average of 3 to 6 months, significantly reduced blood pressure in people with chronic medical conditions.”

It’s Anti-inflammatory
If you have chronic inflammation, having the right levels of this mineral can assist. Magnesium supplements may reduce the inflammatory markers called ‘CRP’ and other markers of inflammation in older adults, overweight people, and even those with prediabetes. High CRP  levels can indicate that there’s inflammation in the arteries of the heart, which is linked to a higher risk of a heart attack.

Could Prevent Migraines and Headaches
Low levels of magnesium are linked to reoccurring headaches and even migraines. In this case, the type used to treat and prevent them is Magnesium Oxide. Regular intake of therapeutic doses of 400mg to 600mg a day reduced the frequency of migraines by around 40%. But note: due to the mega doses, this research was undertaken under medical supervision.

Could help reduce PMS 
Many women suffering from PMS have low magnesium levels. To reduce bloating, fluid retention, breast tenderness, mood swings, or anxiety due to PMS, consider a combination of 200mg-250mg of magnesium teamed with some B6.

As you can see, this mineral appears to be like an ‘all rounder’, versatile mineral. So check that list of magnesium-rich foods and start including them in your daily diet.
But please don’t run off to buy mega doses of this supplement until you speak to your doctor first.
Especially if you are on medication such as proton pump inhibitors, diuretics, antibiotics, or bisphosphonate.