Magnesium is the magic mineral responsible for over 300 different processes in the body, including energy production, muscle movements, blood pressure regulation, blood sugar levels and nerve impulses. It’s also been called ‘the original chill pill’ due to its ability to suppress the release of stress hormones by the brain.
If you’re stressed (and we know you probs are) you’re more than likely to be magnesium-deficient and don’t even know it. This is because the higher your stress levels, the more magnesium your body burns through. But how do you know for sure?
“Only 1% of magnesium is actually found in our cells so it can be really hard to test whether or not your stores are low. That’s why it’s very important to pay attention to your body,” explains GO Healthy naturopath Peta Teuma.
She says that signs you may be low include tremors, cramping, eye twitching, headaches, migraines, low mood, irritability, vertigo and muscle weakness. (Oh and her insider tip for period cramps is that if they feel better with pressure or heat then they should respond well to magnesium supplements…)
Who is at risk?
When it comes to magnesium deficiency, Peta says that it’s estimated that about one third of Australian adults may be low in magnesium.
This means that anybody can be at risk of low levels, especially if they’re under stress, especially if it’s for prolonged periods of time (which in 2020… is all of us. Let’s be real).
However, while stress depletes magnesium levels, Peta says that magnesium also counteracts the effects of stress in the body. It helps alleviate physical muscular tension that can lead to feeling stressed, and it also downgrades our natural ‘fight or flight’ cortisol response to stressful situations. But these anti-stress benefits only kick in if we have an adequate intake.
So, how did you fix a magnesium deficiency?
Even with a healthy diet, Peta says most people don’t eat enough magnesium-rich foods. Plus our levels are also depleted when we drink coffee, eat sugar, sweat during exercise and take certain medications.
“Magnesium deficiency can also be due to low dietary intake, so anyone with a diet deficient in leafy green vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds is at risk,” she adds.
The easiest way to naturally boost it is to sneak more vegetables into your meals. This is what Peta suggests:
– Add spinach leaves to smoothies or eggs for breakfast.
– Grab a handful of nuts and seeds for morning or afternoon tea or add to salads or stir-fries.
– Add a side salad to your meal or better yet make the salad the star of the show and fill it with lots of different leafy green vegetables.
– Use brown rice instead of white rice. Half a cup of brown rice provides over 10% of your daily magnesium intake, plus fibre and B vitamins.
Along with dietary changes, many people find additional benefits from taking a supplement regularly. Studies show that upping magnesium levels can also help alleviate the symptoms of mild anxiety, stress and PMS/PMT.
And like all supplements, it’s all about quality. If you’re not sure about which brands to take, ask your doctor, nutritionist or naturopath to help.
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