We are living in stressful and stress-filled times. Coping with natural disasters, global unrest, bullying whether it be in-person or through social media, and just the beginning of a new school year or new job, stress is a given. Add in other life altering events such as loss of loved ones, divorce, moving or relocation, and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and anxious. If there was ever a time to consider your need for magnesium, it is now.
Magnesium is a mineral that helps in the absorption of calcium, phosphorus, sodium, potassium, and vitamins B complex, C and E. But it is also known as the “anti-stress” mineral.
Magnesium is essential for the formation of strong bones, lung and heart health, and all body tissues. It calms the nerves, promotes sleep, helps with digestion, and nourishes the white nerve fibers of the brain and spinal cord. In addition, it is an activator of enzymes needed to utilize proteins and other vitamins.
Magnesium is available in supplement form. It is important to note that magnesium must be in a balanced ratio with calcium. The usual ratio is 2:1 Calcium to Magnesium, unless you are specifically advised by your health providers to vary that ratio, or are on medications or have health issues that are contraindicated for magnesium supplementation.
In addition to a plain magnesium supplement, this mineral is also found in herbs in varying amounts. Herbs that contain the mineral magnesium are: Kelp, Valerian, Scullcap, Red Raspberry, Gotu Kola, Red Clover, Papaya, Oatstraw, Marshmallow, Licorice, Horsetail, Fennel, Eyebright, Spirulina and Chickweed to name a few. Foods that are magnesium rich are unpolished rice, yellow corn meal, whole grains, almonds, avocados, berries, greens, barley, and grapefruits.
Magnesium depletors are alcohol, synthetic Vitamin D, diuretics, coffee, tobacco, and refined sugars.
Therapeutic uses of magnesium are:
Osteoporosis: Adequate levels of magnesium, calcium, Vitamin D3, and Vitamin K are needed to keep bones strong throughout life.
Anxiety: Magnesium has a calming effect on the nervous system. Low levels can be an underlying component of anxiety and panic attacks and mood disorders.
Menstrual cramps: Because of magnesium’s ability to relax muscles and alleviate muscle cramping and spasms, it is important for women to maintain adequate levels of magnesium if experiencing menstrual cramps regularly.
Migraine headaches and neuritis: Magnesium has been known to help those with chronic migraines and chronic nerve inflammations. The amount of supplementation needed should be discussed with your healthcare team.
Digestion and bowel activity: Magnesium has a long standing benefit for bowel motility and to aid in the absorption and digestion of nutrients. Low magnesium and levels of B5 can be a major contributing cause to chronic constipation.
All in all, magnesium is an important mineral, needed in proper amounts and in balanced ratios with other minerals, for optimal function of the body. As you can see, there are numerous functions and physiological processes that require adequate magnesium. If you have some of the mentioned issues, eat a diet or take medications that are magnesium depletors, or are suspicious of magnesium deficiency, work with your healthcare team and begin supplementation and diet revision to achieve your health and wellness goals.