Magnesium is the fourth most abundant mineral in the body but also one of the most frequently encountered deficiencies in Australia. An Australian Bureau of Statistics 2015 report showed that up to 61% of men and 71% of women have inadequate levels. Muscular cramps, aches and pains and insomnia are just a few red flags for potential magnesium deficiency but as you’ll discover there are so many more areas of our wellbeing that magnesium supports.
Studies have shown magnesium to be a rapidly effective intervention for depression, most likely because of its ability to regulate neuronal requirements of the brain. Given that anti-depressant drugs are not always effective and may come with unwanted side effects it’s worth a discussion with you GP.
Magnesium is essential for thyroid hormone production and is an often-overlooked reason for thyroid dysfunction. Some studies have shown promising results for magnesium supplementation being able to normalize thyroid function.
Magnesium in your body is always working synergistically with calcium to regulate body functions, nowhere more crucially than steadying your blood pressure and preventing hypertension.
Magnesium helps your muscles contract as well as relax. Prolonged stress and tension can diminish your body’s levels of magnesium and one of the first signs of depletion is often muscular spasming and cramps. Given the central role of magnesium in optimal wellbeing its wise not to ignore these warning signs.
If you struggle with PMS symptoms including premenstrual migraines, low mood, cramps and irritability you may need magnesium. In a randomized, controlled study, one in 3 women who took a magnesium supplement experienced relief from PMS. Another study which trialed vitamin B6 as well as magnesium supplementation showed improvement in menstrual migraines and PMS related anxiety.
How to take magnesium.
Foods rich in magnesium include green leafy vegetables, nuts like almonds, cashews and pecans, grains including buckwheat and millet as well as sea vegetables kelp and dulse. However, to achieve a therapeutic dose from food alone is difficult especially as magnesium is depleted by stress, alcohol and refined sugar so a supplement is required.
In my opinion, supplements are best taken in consultation with a trusted health professional such as a naturopath or wholistic GP who can consider the broader picture of your nutritional needs. One delightful thing you can try at home however is an Epsom salt bath which gives your body a healthy dose of magnesium and is a great way to set yourself up for a rejuvenating night’s sleep.