While vitamin D, fish oil and other supplements get a lot of attention, it is important not to forget about magnesium. It is neglected mineral that we cannot live without and chances are you’re deficient. Increasing your magnesium intake can have profound effects on your mood, energy and overall well-being while preventing serious illness and disease.
What does magnesium do?
Magnesium is second to potassium in terms of concentration within the body’s cells and responsible for over 300 functions. Most magnesium in the body is found in the bones and teeth with the rest being stored in muscle tissues and cells. In addition to bone health, magnesium is important for normalizing blood pressure, easing muscle cramps, preventing migraines, increasing circulation, promoting restful sleep, proper calcium and vitamin D absorption and aids in healthy elimination. According the National Institute of Health “some observational surveys have associated higher blood levels of magnesium with lower risk of coronary disease.”
Are you magnesium deficient?
Because of modern farming practices much of our soil has been depleted of it’s natural magnesium. Therefore, much of our food is getting less magnesium and we in turn have become deficient.
Over 80% of adults tested show a magnesium deficiency. Those at most risk are people with gastrointestinal disorders such as Crohn’s disease, Ulcerative Colitis, celiac disease or other intestinal inflammation and people with type 2 diabetes. Studies have also found that elderly people have low dietary intake of magnesium and decreased absorption. Women can also experience magnesium deficiency during the premenstrual period.
What are the symptoms of magnesium deficiency?
Blood testing for magnesium deficiency is not reliable since most of the body’s magnesium store lies within the cells, not in the blood. Therefore, magnesium deficiency is often suspected when someone exhibits deficiency symptoms. These include; anxiety, lack of appetite, PMS, poor sleep, confusion, low blood pressure, muscle spasms, weakness and poor nail growth.
How can you get more magnesium?
The RDA (recommended daily allowance) for magnesium is 350 milligrams for men and 300 milligrams for women. According to Dr. Michael Murray, the average magnesium intake of healthy adults in the United States ranges between 143 and 266 milligrams per day. Far below the RDA. There are two things you can do right away to help increase your magnesium levels:
1) Use kombu: Kombu (aka kelp) is a type of seaweed that can be easily integrated into cooking. It is rich in magnesium and other nutrients such as potassium, iodine and calcium. You can buy dried kombu at your local health food store. To use it simply cut 1-2 inches of the kombu with scissors and toss it into soups, stews or stocks. It can also be added when cooking grains. Simply remove after cooking and discard. I like Maine Coast Sea Vegetables brand which can be found at most health food stores.
2) Eat leafy greens: In plants, magnesium is found in every chlorophyll molecule. So, it’s no surprise that leafy greens are a great source of this mineral. Incorporate kale, collards, Swiss chard, spinach, arugula and other leafy greens at least 4-5 days a week. Try my Raw Kale Salad or my salad staple Cabbage and Greens Salad. Both are BIG winners!
3) Try transdermal magnesium: Magnesium can be used topically. In this way the body absorbs as much magnesium as it needs. Enjoy regular Epsom salt baths or add magnesium oil to your daily lotion. Check your local health food store or online for these products. I like to make my own body butter lotion and add essential oils and liquid magnesium. Here are two great recipes that I’ve played around with – How to Make Body Butter by Healthy Living How To and Magnesium Body Butter from The Coconut Mama. Give them a try!
Article originally published in the Sentinel newspaper and on Cumberlink.com