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What’s up with Magnesium?

Magnesium is a wildly important mineral that doesn’t get a lot of attention. This mineral is involved in over 600 enzymatic reactions in your body, but is one of the most common nutrient deficiencies, especially as we age. And while we don‘t need as much as other important minerals it is crucial that this mineral is not overlooked.

Magnesium is needed for a healthy heartbeat, energy and neurotransmitters production as well as bone metabolism, sleep, relaxation and so much more! For those who are into weight training, magnesium helps your muscles relax post workout. It has also been shown that magnesium can help with depression, support healthy blood sugar levels and has anti-inflammatory benefits.

The signs and symptoms of magnesium deficiency are vast. Some are very subtle while others can cause significant health issues. Because the signs and symptoms are so wide ranging (mood imbalances, insomnia, migraines, fatigue, high blood pressure and osteoporosis) a deficiency in magnesium can sometimes go undetected since it does not present with obvious physical signs and symptoms of nutrient deficiencies like rickets (Vit D deficiency) or scurvy (Vit C deficiency). And often health issues associated with a magnesium deficiency are blamed on something else or remain unexplained.

There are a number of factors that can contribute to a magnesium deficiency. Not consuming enough of the nutrient from your diet would be the number one cause, but if your body doesn’t absorb it as it goes through your system that can also create a deficiency. Other factors like drinking too much alcohol, caffeine, sugar, stress, anxiety, and exercise all deplete magnesium so it’s safe to say we could all benefit from getting a little more magnesium in our lives.

But low magnesium is not just the result of drinking coffee or nerves; we’re at a disadvantage from the start due to the food we eat. Even eating a whole foods diet that limits sugar and processed foods isn’t quite enough anymore. The soil our food is grown in is becoming more and more depleted of nutrients. When our soil has no nutrients, our food has no nutrients. There are a number of reasons our soil is so becoming so deficient, but I’ll leave that for another post.

Lets look at the best ways to increase your magnesium levels using food and some supplementation.

The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for magnesium is 420mg for men and 320mg for women. I am a food first kind of nutritionist but we can’t always absorb as much magnesium as we need from plants because it’s not as bioavailable. Plants come with “anti-nutrients” like phytic acid that makes it harder to absorb. However, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t eat real food sources of magnesium first.

Pumpkin seeds are a great source and provide around 168mg in two tablespoons. Almonds give you 80mg in 23 almonds, 1 cup of cooked spinach will give you 80mg and my personal favourite, dark chocolate will give you 50mg in one ounce serving (make sure it’s 70% cocoa or higher for less sugar).

When food doesn’t quite make the grade I do recommend adding in a good magnesium supplement. A good place to start is with a high quality multi-vitamin. You’re feeding two birds with one seed this way. Not only will you be boosting your magnesium levels, but a good multi will also cover other minerals like zinc, iodine, selenium, copper and manganese (just to name a few) and it will also include vitamins like your A, Bs and vit C.

My favourite way of adding magnesium to my diet is with a cup of magnesium “tea” before bed. I’ve used a couple different brands; Calm is one, and USANA has a yummy lemon ginger blend. Simply boil yourself some hot water, follow the dosage on the bottle and add it to your cup, pour the water over top, it will bubble and fizz a LOT, stir until the powder is dissolved and then top it up with a little cold water and enjoy!

Let me know if this article was helpful or drop any questions you may have in the comments. Cheers to your health xo

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