If you have been feeling tired and in need of coffee, stimulants or chocolate to get you through the day, you may need more of the mineral magnesium in your diet.
It is estimated that up to 80 per cent of us may not be getting enough Magnesium in our diets. Magnesium is an important mineral that is required for over 300 important metabolic reactions within the body. The adult body contains approximately 25g of magnesium, 60% found in the bones, 27% in muscle and 7% in other cells. There are many reasons for depleted magnesium levels including poor soil quality, a diet high in sugar or processed foods, chronic stress, and regular alcohol consumption to name just a few. The body relies on magnesium as a co factor for many enzyme reactions which are required for a plethora of functions such as the conversion of carbohydrates for energy production, regulation of blood sugar, healthy DNA synthesis, strong bones, blood sugar balance, cell signalling and for a healthy nervous system. We also need magnesium to help regulate calcium, vitamin D and hormones so if we are not getting enough magnesium it can affect our general health and wellbeing often showing as symptoms of tiredness or fatigue.
Low vegetable intake, intensive exercise, low protein intake, zinc supplementation, anti-acid medication, diuretics, stress and sugar can further deplete the body of this important mineral.
Symptoms of low magnesium are not obvious and may present as a variety of different symptoms including any of the following –
Aching or cramping muscles
Inability to cope with stress
PMT type symptoms
High blood pressure
When magnesium intake is low we can feel tired or low in energy. To counteract the fatigue we start to crave energy boosters such as sugar and stimulants like caffeine in coffee. Cravings for coffee, sugar or chocolate may be a sign that your body is in need of more magnesium. Good quality dark chocolate is a natural source of magnesium which is why we often crave it when magnesium is low. Choose dark chocolate or raw cacao as a healthier magnesium rich choice rather than the sweet, milk chocolate which has little if any magnesium.
Magnesium can be found in a variety of different foods such as –
Green leafy vegetables
Whole grain bread
When it comes to boosting magnesium levels in the diet, choosing a magnesium rich wholefood diet is a healthy way to go. When levels become chronically depleted and signs and symptoms of magnesium depletion is present supplementation can be effective to boost energy levels and rebalance the nerves. Magnesium supplements can be hard to absorb via the gut particularly for those with gut disorders such as IBS and celiac disease. Choose powder supplements that can be mixed with water and then drunk over tablets which tend to be harder to breakdown and absorb. Magnesium supplements can be easily purchased from pharmacies and health food stores however it is always advised to seek professional recommendation prior to taking any form of supplementation.
Magnesium Chloride – This often comes in an oil/spray formula and can be applied topically to the skin.
Magnesium choride absorbs transdermally via the skin. If you are low in magnesium the sprays can sting on application but this tends to subside once magnesium levels are boosted.
Magnesium Hydroxide – This form of magnesium tends to be used in anti acid medications.
Magnesium Sulphate or Epsom Salts – This form of magnesium does not absorb so well via the skin but if bathing in it the sulphur component may have additional detoxification support. Magnesium sulphate may be taken internally and is sometime used as a laxative however it has a very unpleasant taste and I would recommend professional supplementation over taking straight magnesium sulphate. A bath of Magnesium sulphate crystals with a few drops of essential oils can be a wonderful way to relax.
Supplements – Magnesium is available as magnesium oxide, gluconate , citrate as well as amino acid chelates. As magnesium can be hard to absorb, the amino chelates can be beneficial to enhance absorption. I always recommend to get nutrients as naturally as possible via the diet prior to taking any supplements.
If contemplating supplementation, always seek advice from a qualified nutrition professional.