Every night, I scoop a heaping teaspoon of magnesium powder into my orange tea. This elixir calms me, and I know my body needs it. I supplement with different nutrients based on medical tests – yes – but I also supplement intuitively because I know my body better than anyone. Magnesium is that mineral I could bathe in (I actually do), and my body sings with gratitude when I take it.
Why all the fuss with Mg?
The world knows all about calcium. Its famous health claim of increasing bone density erupted in the 80s and 90s with most doctors prescribing it to patients, particularly post-menopausal women. Our store shelves filled with giant bottles of calcium tablets, tasty chocolate-flavored calcium chews and orange juice fortified with calcium.
Well, calcium has a close counterpart – a dear friend – called magnesium. The media of today’s stressed out world is beginning to recognize this “orphan nutrient” that functions differently from calcium in the body. What we didn’t know back then is that calcium needs magnesium to optimize these bone-building benefits. The yin/yang of minerals, calcium and magnesium work together, and our bodies need both in balance.
I’m not a huge fan of fixating on one nutrient. When calcium hit the news, people overdid it. We even "fortified" margarine with it! Actually, we still might? Blue Bonnet, anyone?
In spite of not wanting to emphasize one nutrient, magnesium deserves some attention. For one, we need to balance out our calcium obsession because the minerals work together. Two, a lot of us are deficient in this vital mineral.
Recent data suggests more than 60% of US adults do not consume enough magnesium. Up to 80% ofthe US population is deficient in magnesium (The Magnesium Miracle, Carlyn Dean, MD).
Every organ in the body needs magnesium to function. Also, we use magnesium in over 300 enzymatic reactions to produce energy, make proteins, work muscles, control blood sugar and regulate blood pressure.
Without magnesium, we’re a mess!
Foods rich in magnesium include dark leafy greens, nuts, seeds, fish, beans, whole grains, avocados, yogurt, bananas, dried fruit, dark chocolate, but even if we eat these magnesium-rich foods, we’re still at risk for deficiency. Why?
The short answer?
Our world is filled with stressors. We have emotional stress (I'm one of those chronic worriers), physical stress (sports enthusiasts and insomniacs), environmental/toxic stress (pollution) and dietary stress (processed foods). Just to name a few! All contribute to our loss of magnesium. On top of chronic stress, the following conditions deplete magnesium stores in some way:
· Gastrointestinal disease
· Hypertension and cardiovascular disease
· Type 2 Diabetes
· Alcohol Dependence
· The Aging Process
That’s pretty much all of us.
Here are just a few ways supplementing with magnesium can help:
1. Sleep -- 50% of adults suffer from insomnia. We either can’t fall asleep or we wake up too early and are unable to go back to sleep. Studies show that supplementing with magnesium can improve sleep efficiency, sleep time and early morning wakening. It also improves other marker such as levels of melatonin and cortisol, which contribute to a better quality zzz’s.
Magnesium can also help with restless leg syndrome.
2. Fat Loss
Magnesium can help with fat loss? One study showed that people who were deficient in magnesium were at a greater risk for obesity. Getting the right amount of magnesium in your blood has been correlated with a lower waist to hip ratio, and lower triglycerides.
3. Muscle Building
As we age, we lose muscle mass. Magnesium could play a role in preventing age-related loss of skeletal muscle mass, power and strength, claims one study.
This helps in two ways. Magnesium helps feed the muscle directly, helping build it. It also lowers chronic inflammation, a risk factor in muscle for skeletal muscle loss. Either way, our muscles appreciate that added dose of magnesium.
4. Mental health – Many studies are popping up showing the relationship between magnesium and mental health. It makes sense that if chronic stress depletes magnesium, adding it back into your routine will help alleviate some of those symptoms. Patients with borderline disorders have a higher magnesium deficiency. Magnesium also lowers risk for depression. Another study found that magnesium worked as well as antidepressants!
If we don’t have enough magnesium, we can’t produce the serotonin we need.
5. Reduce Bone Loss
Many lifestyle stressors contribute to bone loss, the biggest being our standard American diet (SAD). Eating a balanced diet rich in calcium, magnesium, omega-3s and magnesium can maintain health bone structure throughout life, and can prevent bone loss in adulthood.
This data is all well and good, but, ultimately, only our bodies really know whether supplementing with nutrients works or not. For me, I crave my cup of magnesium tea like a lot of women crave their wine.
Calms me right the hell down.
Empower Your Body!
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(I use Tazo's Sweet Orange tea and a heaping teaspoon of Magnesium Chelate Powder. It's a glycinate form so won't agitate your bowels. "Like" my FB page and message me for a discount code if you'd like to try it!)