This mineral could be the missing link to your health problems
Magnesium is an essential mineral required by every organ in the body for a range of important functions.
Having adequate levels of magnesium in your body is vital to good health, however it is also one of the most common deficiencies that people experience and can often go unnoticed. “Magnesium is one that really flies under the radar in terms of deficiency. People are often deficient but don't realise it,” says FIT Crew member and dietician Olivia Bates.
Here’s a closer look at this precious mineral, signs of deficiency, benefits and why supplementing with magnesium may benefit your health, training and general wellbeing.
What does magnesium do?
Getting down to the science, magnesium is a co-factor in over 350 enzymatic reactions that occur daily in the body. It is needed for nerve impulses, relaxing the muscles, heart function, protein and fatty acid formation, temperature regulation, detoxification, healthy blood clotting and the secretion of insulin.
If all that wasn’t enough, magnesium is also essential for bone health. “Magnesium plays a role in preserving bone calcium by transporting potassium into bones where potassium acts in place of calcium to neutralise acids in the body,” explains Olivia.
Research suggests that maintaining adequate levels of magnesium is beneficial in the treatment and management of a wide variety of medical conditions, including asthma, fibromyalgia migraines, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, pregnancy-induced hypertension, premenstrual tension, restless leg syndrome, stress and anxiety, and depression.
Natural Sources of Magnesium
Magnesium is found in varying levels in a range of foods, such as wholegrains, dark green vegetables, nuts / seeds, meat and fish.
“The best way to ensure you are getting adequate magnesium from wholefoods is to consume a diet rich in fruit and vegetables, as well as organic dairy and wholegrain breads and cereals, nuts and lean meat,” says Olivia.
Signs of deficiency
“If you’ve recently had a blood test, you might assume it would show a magnesium deficiency. But only 1 percent of magnesium in your body is distributed in your blood, making a simple sample of magnesium from a serum magnesium blood test not very useful,” says osteopathic physician and best selling author, Dr. Mercola. This is because most magnesium is actually stored in your bones and organs, so it is easy to become deficient and not know it, if you don’t understand the signs to look for.
Common indicators that a magnesium deficiency may be present include tics, muscle spasms and cramps, seizures, anxiety, irregular heart rhythms, migraine headaches, insomnia, depression and fatigue. If you are suffering from these symptoms, you should consult your healthcare professional to determine if a magnesium supplement could help you.
Taking a magnesium supplement
It is recommended that the average person needs a minimum of 300 to 400 milligrams of magnesium a day and this is just to maintain normal levels in the body. “We know much of the population is failing to meet minimum requirements for vegetables and consuming highly processed breads and cereals thus missing out on the benefits of the whole grains, for this reason a supplement may need to be considered,” says Olivia. Due to nutrient depletion in the soil our crops are grown in, produce is also less nutritious than it used to be.
If you have a deficiency, it is likely you will need to take a magnesium supplement for a therapeutic effect, which can be determined by your healthcare professional, who can also recommend dosage.
Magnesium supplementation is also popular with individuals engaging in moderate to high intensity exercise as it assists with energy production in the body, needed for all muscle contractions. If you don’t have enough magnesium, it can limit energy production and lead to fatigue, lowered power and muscular cramps.
Magnesium supplements may also be beneficial for athletic performance by minimising lactic acid build up and supporting the nervous system during and after strenuous exercise. “Magnesium is also lost through sweat, so athletes training hard in hot and humid environments might further increase demands,” suggests Lucy Lascelles, from Trilogy Nutrition.
Tip: Make sure you choose a high quality magnesium supplement such as Ethical Nutrients Magnesium Powder and Tablets, or Fusion Health Magnesium Advanced, all available to purchase at FIT.