Wednesday 9 June 2021

Are you getting enough Magnesium?

Photo by HowToGym on Unsplash

 Some professional literature dropped through my letterbox, including an article on magnesium. This is an essential mineral for us humans, used in a large number of ways including metabolism and energy production, synthesis of fatty acids and proteins and the transmission of nerve impulses; the article quotes it is used in 300 enzymatic reactions, and gives seventeen clinical uses for magnesium. Magnesium supports bone health as well as being involved in heart, nerve and muscle function and blood sugar regulation.

Surveys have found that many people in the UK are deficient to a varying extent in this important mineral; causes of this may be insufficient levels in the diet together with the tendency for levels to be depleted by common factors such as stress, caffeine and alcohol consumption, sweating or menstruating heavily, or poor digestive function. The challenges of the last year may have caused an increase in these factors for many of us! Some chronic health conditions may also cause deficiency. 

As with so many health issues it isn't easy to know if you are deficient but possible signs to look out for include fatigue; brain fog/lack of concentration; restless leg syndrome; muscle cramps/twitches; palpitations; PMS and/or menstrual cramps; anxiety; headaches/migraines; insomnia; feeling easily startled; vertigo; poor coordination; constipation/IBS symptoms; cravings for salt and/or caffeine. If you are experiencing these, are concerned and are not sure of the cause you may wish to consult a health professional.

I notice that I get some of these symptoms when I drink too much coffee or am stressed; reducing my caffeine intake, doing some self care and increasing my dietary sources of magnesium usually resolves most of the issues quickly. I have now developed a feeling for which foods help me and what I need to cut back on (although I still drink tea and one cup of coffee every day - some habits are very hard to change!) 

Dietary sources of magnesium include:

  • legumes (such as chickpeas, peas, lentils, beans)
  • dark green leafy vegetables (such as kale, broccoli, spinach) 
  • fruit (such as bananas)
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Fish (such as mackerel and salmon)
  • Whole grains (such as oatmeal, whole wheat, barley, buckwheat, quinoa)
  • Dark chocolate :-)
There are also magnesium supplements available although I would always recommend looking to obtain through the diet first and then supplement if there is still a need. Magnesium citrate is generally thought to be the easiest absorbed. I don't give advice on how much to take other than to aim to eat a range of foods from the above list every day and maybe take a supplement, following the manufacturer's recommendations; I leave more detailed prescription to those more qualified than myself in nutrition. 

The BBC Good Food website has a useful article on magnesium:

Information obtained from:
'Magnesium - the most essential mineral for your practice' by Lamberts Healthcare 
'Human Nutrition, a health perspective' by Mary E Barasi 

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