How Magnesium can Benefit your Health
Magnesium is an essential mineral that plays a vital role in countless bodily functions. Unfortunately, not everybody gets enough of it and according to various estimates, some 80% of adults are actually deficient in magnesium. With that in mind, it may be worth looking into increasing your magnesium intake by eating the appropriate mineral-rich foods or even looking into magnesium supplementation.
There are certain ways to tell if you are deficient in magnesium though a doctor’s examination is definitely recommended. Some of the telltale signs include muscle spasms and aches and digestive troubles. Magnesium deficiency can also manifest in emotional troubles like increased anxiety or trouble sleeping.
While magnesium is not present in the body in the highest levels compared with other minerals, it is considered one of the most important when it comes to overall wellbeing. While we only require modest amounts of the mineral compared to many other nutrients, it is important not to overlook its importance.
Magnesium actually plays a role in well over 300 bodily functions including neural transmissions, muscle movement, hormone production and regulating the heartbeat. This article will take a look at some of the ways in which magnesium can benefit your health and look specifically at certain conditions that it is known to treat.
1) Magnesium for Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)
While there is some controversy over the diagnosis, there seems little doubt that conditions like ADD and ADHD are on the rise among children today. Parents of children diagnosed with these conditions are often confused by hasty medications and vague recommendations of lifestyle and dietary changes.
There is plenty of dissatisfaction among parents and experts especially with the prescription of powerful pharmaceuticals that could have extreme negative effects on a young child.
Many experts believe that there is a correlation between magnesium deficiency and ADHD. They feel that the deficiencies experienced by children today are mainly due to two factors – poor nutrition and increased levels of stress.
These days, children’s diets are loaded with additives, refined sugars and processed junk. Diets like this are inherently low in magnesium and other nutrients but they also stress a child’s nervous system which causes the body to utilize its precious magnesium supply.
Children today are also more at risk of environmental stresses than children in the past. Peer pressure, schoolwork, sport’s competitions and various other activities expose our children to stresses that we did not experience to the same degree in the past. Stresses like these cause a rush of adrenaline and further deplete the body of its magnesium.
Magnesium can relax the mind and body. Our bodies use it to send messages through the nervous system which is especially important in calming the nerves of children with ADD or ADHD. When children have sufficient magnesium in their body, they can focus more easily and think more clearly. Magnesium is also essential to serotonin production and serotonin is essential to calmness and wellbeing.
Magnesium does not only help a child with attention disorders emotionally. It is also important to relax the body physically. It helps relax muscle fibers and prevent spasms or twitches. A calm body can have a very beneficial impact on a child’s level of hyperactivity.
2) Magnesium for Raynaud’s syndrome
Raynaud’s syndrome is a condition causing a narrowing of the blood vessels resulting in a person’s toes or fingers turning blue or blotchy but which sometimes effects the lips and nose. When an episode occurs, it also causes the effected area to feel cold or to tingle.
Magnesium may be an extremely effective natural treatment methods for the condition. It can help dilate the blood vessels which in turn allows the flow of blood to the extremities. Although there is a lack of concrete research in the link between magnesium and Raynaud’s syndrome, studies into fibromyalgia (which may coincide with the condition) have found that sufferers had lower levels of magnesium compared with healthy subjects
3) Magnesium for Heart Palpitations
I count myself among the millions of people who either suffer from or have experienced regular heart palpitations sometime during their lives. They can be extremely scary especially for somebody who is not used to them. Many people would immediately put their palpitations down to anxiety or stress and others may feel there is something seriously amiss. I am not sure how many people would actually think a magnesium deficiency could be the cause of their woes.
There is however a well researched link correlation between stress and lower magnesium levels. Even if you feel that you are getting enough magnesium in your diet, severe stress or anxiety can deplete your body’s supplies significantly.
Unfortunately one of the many common and unwanted effects of a magnesium deficiency is heart palpitations. Supplementing with magnesium or adding more to your diet can alleviate your palpitations as well as its many other health benefits.
Magnesium helps your heart in plenty of other ways too and is there anything more important than a healthy heart?
The highest levels of magnesium in the entire body are actually found in the heart specifically within the heart’s left ventricle. Magnesium works together with calcium in order to keep blood pressure in the normal range and reduce the risk of hypertension.
Lacking the sufficient levels of magnesium can be even more serious than you may think. It can cause severe and highly dangerous muscular spasms which may even result in heart attack and death.
4) Magnesium for Achy Legs
Magnesium helps to loosen up tightness in the muscles. Without sufficient levels of the mineral our muscles are unable to relax fully and aching or cramping is likely to occur. Magnesium is also very important to to ensure that your limbs are flexible as low levels of magnesium can cause lactic acid to build up in your muscles resulting in muscle aches, tightness and pain. (1)
Another important function of magnesium when it comes to the muscles is that it helps to balance calcium levels in the body. When taken in high doses, calcium can actually cause serious problems with regard to muscles control. Calcium supplements are often taken in high levels but people tend to overlook the important role that magnesium can play in balancing the minerals.
High levels of calcium coupled with low levels of magnesium are a recipe for muscle trouble throughout the body. More magnesium in your diet can ensure your muscles work smoothly and efficiently, reduce the risk of spasms and ease your aches and pains.
5) Magnesium for Morning Sickness
The millions of pregnant women who are all too familiar with the rotten symptoms of morning sickness may find some comfort in magnesium. This news may be coming a bit late for many of you including my wife. But for women who are trying to get pregnant or are planning a family in the future, the beneficial role magnesium may play is very interesting.
Most people think of cortisol as the ‘human stress hormone’ but how many were aware that one of its primary effects was to increase your levels of blood sugar? Excess levels of cortisol in the system cause the blood sugar levels in the body to go through a roller coaster cycle of spikes and subsequent crashes. This unfortunately results in the dreadful nausea and major fatigue of morning sickness.
So how can magnesium help? Under normal circumstances magnesium helps to balance the body’s cortisol levels by effectively cleansing any excess from the bloodstream. However, pregnancy hormones have an undesired effect. They inhibit the body’s ability to properly absorb magnesium which cause many women’s bodies to undergo a familiar vicious cycle. The excess cortisol causes nausea and the nausea causes more stress and the magnesium you need to ease the stress is not properly absorbed.
Try not to worry however. All is far from lost. If you are planning in getting pregnant in the future, then stocking up your body’s supplies of magnesium before you get pregnant can work wonders and significantly reduce your chances of experiencing morning sickness.
If you are already pregnant, it is still absolutely vital that you gets plenty of high quality magnesium into you system. Assuming that your cravings allow, food like seaweed, leafy greens and bone broth can do wonders for your pregnancy. It is also important that you get plenty of vitamin D, B5 and B 12 which help the body absorb the magnesium properly.
6) Magnesium for Bone Health
Getting enough magnesium is absolutely vital to healthy bone formation because it influences the osteoclast and osteoblast activities that promote bone density. Magnesium also helps to balance levels of vitamin D which helps regulate bone homeostasis.
According to well-designed research, magnesium levels are linked to bone density levels in both males and females. Research has also suggested that women can reduce their risk of developing osteoporosis and even reverse its effects by consuming more magnesium. (2)
7) Magnesium for Migraine Headaches
Anybody that suffers from migraines will know just how debilitating they can be. Magnesium plays a role in the functions of neurotransmitters and also blood circulation. Because of these roles, the mineral can help to control migraines by reducing the blood vessel constriction which increases blood pressure and also by releasing hormones that relieve pain.
A number of studies suggest that taking magnesium orally or intravenously can effectively reduce pain in people suffering from migraines. (3)
8) Magnesium for Constipation
The bulk of the research into constipation has focused on dietary fiber but recent studies have cast an eye on the role played by magnesium. They suggest that if you suffer from regular bouts of painful constipation, magnesium is one of the best ways to get rid of it. Taking magnesium supplements or increasing your dietary intake of the mineral helps relax the muscles in your digestive tract and this helps your ability to pass stools more comfortably.
One study conducted by Japanese researchers found that magnesium significantly reduced the incidence of constipation among 3,800 female subjects. The study found that low magnesium consumption was directly related to an increase in the condition. (4)
In another study, researchers observed the effect of magnesium supplements on elderly subjects with constipation. When the patients took magnesium, their constipation was eased more effectively than those who were given bulk laxatives. (5)
9) Magnesium for Stress
We have already mentioned earlier in the article that magnesium can help reduce the stress factors that lead to conditions like ADHD. That is because magnesium plays an important role in GABA function. GABA controls the production of hormones like serotonin which induce a feeling of wellbeing.
Magnesium helps regulate a variety of other hormones that promote relaxation and calm which may explain the link between magnesium deficiency and insomnia.
Studies on animals have demonstrated that magnesium deficient mice display greater anxiety related behavior than those supplemented with magnesium. According to researchers, deficiency in magnesium leads to an increase in the brain’s cortisol levels which significantly increases anxiety and stress response. (6)
10) Magnesium for Insomnia
Insomnia can be absolute hell for sufferers and there are many factors that could be causing your sleeping problems. If you are at your wit’s end then magnesium may be an effective solution. Magnesium helps to quiet the mind and reduce the stress that may be causing your insomnia.
A study observed the effects of magnesium on 46 subjects over the course of 8 weeks. Those who were given magnesium supplements experienced significant improvements in terms of sleep duration and getting to sleep quickly. Magnesium played an important role in balancing the hormones responsible for sleep. Those who took the magnesium had higher levels of melotonin and less cortisol in their systems than the subjects who took the placebo. (7)
11) Magnesium for Asthma
The possibility that magnesium can help to treat asthmatics stems from the observation that asthma sufferers often have lower levels of magnesium in their bodies. Some studies seem to suggest that magnesium supplements given intravenously might work in the case of an emergency asthma attack. Other studies have been a little more reserved and results have been mixed. More research is ongoing which will hopefully provide a definitive answer.
Magnesium relationship to vitamin D
Researchers are becoming increasingly aware of the relationship between magnesium and vitamin D. A magnesium deficiency can effect the way in which vitamin D works.
According to experts, the benefits of vitamin D are undermined significantly when people are deficient in magnesium. Magnesium is essential to the way in which vitamin D acts in the body so it is important that it is not overlooked. This is important since vitamin D deficiency is linked to many diseases including various cancers, arthritis, osteoporosis and mental illness.
Research tells us that not only are adequate amounts of magnesium essential for the metabolism and absorption of vitamin D but also calcium and vitamin k2.
Which Magnesium supplement to Choose
There are various types of supplement and choosing the correct form is important. Magnesium in chelate or chloride forms is absorbed better than magnesium in sulfate form. Some of the best types include:
- Magnesium Glycynate is an easily absorbed chelated form of the mineral. It is generally regarded as the most bio-available form of magnesium and provides people with the best level of absorption to ensure you get the most from your supplement. Magnesium glycynate is the ideal supplement for people who need to quickly address a deficiency effect.
- Magnesium Citrate is generally regarded to be safe but might cause a laxative effect.
- Magnesium Chelate is easily absorbed into the body and is the type of magnesium that occurs naturally in food.
For a more detailed article on the best and worst forms of magnesium supplement, click here.
Make your own Magnesium Balm
As well as oral supplements, you can buy a topical magnesium balm to help relieve conditions like stress, pain, migraines and insomnia. Another option is to make your own homemade balm or body butter by combining a few healthy ingredients.
There are many possible recipes but we recommend giving this one a try:
You will need
- half a cup of magnesium oil
- quarter cup of virgin coconut oil
- two tablespoons of beeswax
- three tablespoons or so of Shea butter
- twenty drops of your favorite essential oil
- Place your Shea butter, coconut oil and beeswax in a mason jar. Put the jar in a pan with around an inch or so of water and turn on the heat.
- After the ingredients have completely melted, remove the jar from the pan and allow the mixture to cool.
- Place the ingredients into a bowl and blend them together. Add the essential oil and combine thoroughly.
- Add your magnesium oil gradually as you continue to blend the ingredients together.
- Put your finished mixture into the refrigerator for at least 15 minutes then blend again to get the right consistency.
- Store in your fridge and you should be able to use your body balm for a few months.
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