The importance of Magnesium
Don’t let cramps, cramp your style
Have you ever been told that you may be low in magnesium?
Magnesium deficiency commonly manifests as muscle spasms/cramps, muscular weakness, low energy, joint pain, depression, anxiety, migraines, high blood pressure, insomnia and inability to cope with stress. It is known as one of the master minerals of the body, as it is the 4th most abundant atom and is involved in over 300 pathways that help the body to function at its optimum.
Did you know that 50% of magnesium is found in your bones, while the other 50% is distributed equally between your muscles and connective tissue? This explains the importance of magnesium for muscle activity and health (Braun & Cohen, 2014).
One of the main roles of magnesium within the body is to relax muscle cells, it is here that magnesium works alongside calcium (which is responsible for muscle contraction) that allows us to move. Magnesium also has a critical role in energy production and antioxidant synthesis in the muscle. Therefore without sufficient dietary intake, your muscles are less likely to relax and recover after exercise and/or after times of stress. Over time this can strain on our muscles, and injury is more likely to occur (Jahnen-Dechent & Ketteler, 2012).
New Zealand’s recommended daily intake of Magnesium
Women 19-30 years – 310 milligrams (mg)
Women 30+ – 320 mg
Men 19-30 years – 400 mg
Men 30+ – 420 mg (Ministry of Health, 2005).
Magnesium can be sourced naturally in a wide range of foods, including dark leafy greens (spinach, kale, cabbage), pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, almonds, legumes (black beans, kidney beans, chickpeas, lentils), amaranth grain, whole grain oats, quinoa, brown rice, avocado and bananas.
An easy way to incorporate this into your daily diet is to ensure you have a handful of nuts daily, have at least two servings of dark leafy green vegetables and to consume one cup of whole grains daily (Braun & Cohen, 2014; Gropper, Smith, & Groff, 2009).
It is also very common in this day and age to be living very stressful lifestyles and as a result, our body may use more magnesium than what we consume each day. An easy way to get some extra magnesium is through magnesium Epsom salt baths. Not only is this a simple way to reduce your stress and anxiety, the magnesium is able to absorb straight into your blood stream and tissues. Below is a recipe for our favourite magnesium salt bath!
Magnesium salt bath recipe
Add 1-2 cups Epsom salts to the bath (can be bought from your local health store – be wary of cheap forms as they may be impure and contain heavy metals)
[Optional] Add 10 drops of your favourite essential oil to the bath (Lavender is a great muscle and nerve relaxant)
Sit back and relax for twenty to thirty minutes
Braun, L., & Cohen, M. (2014). Herbs and natural supplements: An evidence-based guide (4th ed: Vol.2.). Sydney, Australia: Churchill Livingstone.
Gropper, S., Smith, J., & Groff, J. (2009). Advanced nutrition and human metabolism. Sydney, Australia: Wadsworth/Cengage Learning.
Jahnen-Dechent, W., & Ketteler, M. (2012). Magnesium basics. Clinical Kidney Journal, 5(1), 13–14.
Ministry of Health. (2005). Nutrient reference values for Australia and New Zealand: Including recommended dietary intakes. Retrieved fromhttps://www.nhmrc.gov.au/_files_nhmrc/publications/attachments/n35.pdf