Sometimes in your aims to relax, you start to feel nothing is working properly: you are feeling moodier, you are, for sure, more tired than usual, you are having trouble with your sleep, sometimes you get headaches from nowhere, and you are feeling a little down or unmotivated. No matter how much yoga, meditation and distressing techniques you try, you think it goes further from you. What if I tell you this might have to do with what you are eating, or to be even more specific, with what you are not eating?
A Magnesium deficiency is the condition that occurs when the intake of Magnesium is under what is required. This deficiency can lead to anxiety, depression, aggression, and even to more serious mental disorders.
Even with this information, around 70% of the world population have Magnesium deficiency. Many think this is because our soils are so low in Magnesium. Others believe because it is a mineral that competes with others (like calcium) in its absorption, making it challenging for it to be absorbed by your body. Both reasons are legitimate, but the main reason for me is that people don’t eat enough sources of Magnesium, since most of the people’s diets are based on white flour, meat and dairy, that contain no Magnesium at all; on the other hand, these diets contain other nutrients that can compete with Magnesium’s absorption.
The daily required amount of Magnesium needed for a healthy adult is about 300-500 mg per day. This varies depending on how active you are, how stressed you are, also that men require more than women, and the fact that there are special conditions where the body might require more Magnesium, for example if someone eats a diet high in calcium and protein. Also, magnesium is less absorbed when there is an excess of alcohol, coffee, black tea, and cola sodas with phosphoric acid consumed. It is also decreased with prolonged stress (even due to hard sports training), sweating, abuse of antibiotics or other drugs, and bacteria/fungi/parasite infection.
If you have a correct intake of Magnesium, the benefits it will make to your body, in terms of helping it to relax, are plenty:
- Reduces muscular aches and pain: less pain, more relaxed
- Regulates your heart rate: helping you to control your breathing and relaxation exercises
- Reduces headaches: you can’t relax with migraine or a big headache all the time
- Makes your body more capable of adapting to light changes and reduces sound hyper sensibility: this can help you be more rested all the time
- Involved in the energy metabolism: helping your body fight fatigue
- Brings your appetite back: this can help you to pass through difficult phases where you don’t want to eat much even though you know you need to
- Reduces the menstrual cycle related pains in women: cause of no rest for many women
- Reduces the sugar craving: this will totally help you relax and reset
- Nervous system regulator: supporting in diseases like insomnia, anxiety, hyperactivity, panic attacks, phobias, etc.
What to do?
- Increase the intake of Magnesium rich food
Magnesium is found in whole, plant-based food, especially the following: leafy green vegetables, broccoli, seeds and nuts, legumes, avocado, whole grains, seaweed, banana, dates, figs, and cacao.
Consider soaking the grains and legumes before cooking or sprouting the legumes, so the absorption of Magnesium will be better since there will be no substances that might diminish it.
- Decrease intake of food that can interfere with the Magnesium absorption
By this I mean that you should try to reduce from your diet the coffee, the black coffee, the sodas with cola, the sugar and processed food and the alcohol. I also think it is important whenever you eat something that contains Magnesium to avoid eating with it a food that contains calcium or phosphorus since these will compete in the absorption process in the intestines. Phosphorus is really high in cola sodas and also in tea and coffee. Calcium is really high in dairy products. So, avoid them when you eat a food rich in Magnesium, and in some cases, limit their intake at all.
- Check the medicine you are taking
Some common drugs (like the ones for high blood pressure or antibiotics, for example) can cause Magnesium malabsorption or even loss. Ask your doctor about this concern and see alternative measurements.
- Consider supplementation
Oral supplements (such as mineral salts of Magnesium, Magnesium chelates or Magnesium acid compounds) might be a good option for people that don’t eat enough food sources daily or have a higher need (for example athletes). It also might be suggested for therapeutic reasons for people with depression, lack of attention, memory loss, mood changes and anxiety.
Also, dermic medication (by skin) is a great way to get your Magnesium. A bath with Epsom salts (magnesium sulfate) is an ideal way to help your body get to the required needs in a relaxing way.
Quick easy morning Magnesium booster
250 mL of cold water
Grated ginger (as per taste)
The juice of 1 lemon
5 chard or kale leaves
Blend all the ingredients together and enjoy!
Marcela is a Nutritionist and Dietitian, with a specialisation in Sports Nutrition. She earned her undergraduate degree in Human Nutrition at the University of Costa Rica in 2008, then completed her master’s degree in Integrative Health and Human Movement in the Universidad Nacional de Costa Rica in 2010 and a postgraduate degree in Integral Health and Human Movement with an emphasis in Athletes and Sports Nutrition. She has dedicated the past ten years to the sport, competing in several prestigious fights including the Queen’s Cup, the King’s Cup, the World Championship in Bangkok and she has fought for a World Title in Las Vegas.
About the Author
Bochakorn began her education in conventional medicine as a nurse, then shifted to embrace natural healing and integrative medicines. Her training and certifications abroad include: Nutrition and Western Herbal Medicines, Acupuncture and Moxibustion.
During her therapeutic sessions, she may also incorporate other aspects of integrative medicines when required, including: acupuncture, cupping therapy, moxibustion, nutritional, supplements and herbal recommendation.