Magnesium – the most overlooked mineral

Are you experiencing fatigue, weakness, anxiety, and irritability? You may have a magnesium deficiency. Magnesium is the most overlooked mineral, but the body uses it in more than 300 reactions, many of which give you energy. A chronic lack of magnesium in the body yields many consequences, including low energy levels, leg or foot cramps, sensitivity to loud noises, muscle twitches, spasms, or tension in the muscles, trouble falling asleep, restless legs, palpitations, and irritability. Furthermore, research on red blood cells has shown that lower levels of magnesium can make the cells more fragile, leading to a decrease in available red blood cells. Red blood cells are vital for increasing your energy levels because they deliver needed oxygen to tissues. Low magnesium levels lead to higher oxygen use and higher heart rates during exercise. This suggests that magnesium helps to optimize the use of oxygen in order to burn calories and feel more energized, and a lower level of magnesium hinders that process.

What affects the magnesium levels in your body? Everything from stress (it causes your body to use more of the mineral) to birth control pills, diuretics, drinking more than seven alcoholic drinks a week, and even carbonated beverages can up your risk of too-low levels of magnesium. Another big factor is being active. That’s because exercise can lead to mineral depletion — magnesium can be lost when you sweat. Blood magnesium levels can decrease as much as five percent from just walking on a treadmill for 90 minutes at 1.5 kilometres per hour. Intense exercise can increase magnesium needs by more than 20 percent. But research shows that magnesium supplementation improves exercise tolerance when you haven’t gotten enough sleep and cardiovascular function during exercise.

What are some good sources of magnesium? It is fairly easy to get magnesium through whole foods — nuts and seeds (Almonds, cashews, pumpkin seeds), dark green vegetables (spinach, kale), fish, soybeans, avocado, bananas, dark chocolate, whole grains, and legumes. Stock up on calcium-rich foods, too. Low calcium levels may inhibit magnesium absorption. Bottom line, stick to a whole foods diet and eat an abundant amount of plants and whole grains and you cannot go wrong.

If you’re considering a supplement, choose chelated magnesium, which is more readily absorbed. Chelated basically means firmly attached”, usually to an amino acid or other organic component, so that the two do not disassociate in the digestive system. Cap your supplementation to 350 milligrams a day, too. You could try a bit of topical magnesium, too; it will not only increase levels of the mineral, but soothe sore muscles. Or consider adding the mineral to your bubble bath.

In addition to the above mentioned symptoms, low levels of magnesium in our diet and our bodies increase our susceptibility to a variety of diseases, including heart disease, high blood pressure, kidney stones, cancer, insomnia, PMS, and menstrual cramps. So, up your magnesium levels and be fit, healthy and happy.

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