Did you know that Magnesium is involved in over 300 biochemical reactions in the human body? It may be the most important element we need! It has also been noted that magnesium is more important than calcium, potassium or sodium as it is required to regulate those minerals.
About 50% of total body magnesium is found in bone. The other half is found in cells (mostly inside the cells of body tissues and organs) and only 1% of magnesium is found in blood. Here are a few examples of how it helps to improve various conditions:
Tension – Headaches/Migraines/Cramps/Restless Legs
Cramping of the muscles is often caused by calcification or a build-up of calcium in the muscle and soft tissues of the body. Magnesium is a relaxer, it pushes excess calcium out of cells and can lessen the tension in your muscles. Magnesium also helps to regulate the action of serotonin (a big factor in migraines) and can help reduce their frequency, intensity and duration.
Pain & Inflammation
Magnesium prevents the buildup of lactic acid (associated with muscle soreness) and mediates the enzymes responsible for immune and inflammatory responses. The presence of inflammation will itself deplete magnesium levels. It also activates Omega 3 fatty acids, which help with inflammation.
Magnesium is used to activate melatonin (our sleep hormone) at a cellular level. It can help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep!
Anxiety/Nervousness/Lack of Attention & Focus
Magnesium lives in the centre of the cell, and with adequate levels, is meant to keep calcium on the outside of the cell where it belongs until needed. Too much calcium and not enough magnesium create an unhealthy balance, allowing calcium to move into the cell. This has been shown to cause rigidity and tension in the cell and leads to perpetual excitement and nervousness, keeping the electrical signals in your brain firing.
Chronic stress causes our body to stay in a constant state of alarm, which leads to the release of hormone surges by the adrenal glands, such as cortisol and adrenaline. Magnesium not only relaxes the cells, it balances the output of stress hormones and functions as a detoxifier to cleanse cortisol from cells. In addition, any stress (physical or mental) depletes magnesium. Magnesium also activates B-vitamins, which are essential for reducing stress.
Magnesium slows bone turnover and helps to protect against bone loss and brittleness. It is also the mineral that activates Vitamin D that assimilates the calcium into your bones. It should also be noted, that high amounts of cortisol from stress will pull calcium from the bones. Magnesium helps the body deal with stress to decrease cortisol in the body.
Every muscle and nerve in the body relies on magnesium to maintain normal function. This includes the heart and its electrical system, keeping rhythm steady. Magnesium promotes normal blood pressure by relaxing and dilating blood vessels. It also has properties as a natural blood thinner, helping to prevent platelet aggregations. Magnesium acts as a natural statin to help decrease bad cholesterol.
Blood Sugar Regulation
Most people with diabetes have a magnesium deficiency. It plays an important role in regulating blood sugar levels as it is responsible for the production, function, transport and uptake of insulin by the cells. Low intracellular magnesium is a characteristic of insulin resistance. It should also be noted that loss of magnesium increases in periods of high levels of blood glucose.
A few good dietary sources of magnesium include pumpkin/sesame/sunflower seeds, spinach and dark leafy greens, quinoa, black beans, cashews, buckwheat, sweet potatoes and dark chocolate.
Choosing a Magnesium Supplement
Here are a few guidelines when looking to decide which form is right for you!
- Liquid and chelated forms are well absorbed.
- Ionic Magnesium– Provides by the body through small, electrically charged nano-particles which bypass the digestive system.
- Magnesium Bysglycinate– Crosses the blood brain barrier and has relaxing/calming properties without a laxative effect.
- Magnesium Oxide/Hydroxide– Commonly used as a laxative or antacid.
- Magnesium Malate–Shown to be effective for those suffering with chronic pain, fatigue or fibromyalgia.
- Magnesium Citrate – Often used in the prevention of kidney stones.
If choosing to supplement, one should never take calcium without magnesium, as they work together and excess calcium actually depletes magnesium from the body. Magnesium, however, can be taken on its own at another time throughout the day. Many prefer to take it before bed to help achieve relaxation and proper rest.
This column is sponsored by Good 'n' Natural in Steinbach.