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Magnesium - the relaxation mineral!

Magnesium is an extremely important, but often forgotten, mineral. It is the fourth most

abundant mineral in the body and is responsible for over 300 biochemical reactions. The

majority (around 60%) is found in the bone, with 26% found in muscles and the rest in soft

tissue and body fluids. It helps to release energy from food, maintain water balance in the

body and is important for strong muscles and bones.

It can also play a role in promoting relaxation as adequate magnesium levels shift the body

out of the sympathetic nervous system state (fight or flight) and into a parasympathetic state

(rest or digest). Activation of the parasympathetic nervous system allows us to reduce

excitability in the body, increase circulation by opening up the blood vessels and promote

relaxation. This can be beneficial for our wellbeing, particularly with the stressful lives most

of us lead today.

The recommended daily allowance is 300mg for men and 276mg for women, yet most of us

are getting less than 200mg per day. But why is this? Magnesium occurs mainly in

wholefoods but the high level of processed food in the Western diet has resulted in much of

our food being low in magnesium. Levels in vegetables and plants (and also the animals that

feed on these plants) have been declining since the 1950s due to increasingly depleted soil

conditions. Furthermore, the use of certain chemicals in the water supply can make

magnesium less available in water since these chemicals can bind to magnesium. Caffeine,

salt, carbonated drinks, processed foods and sugar can also deplete the body’s levels, as

can profuse sweating, stress, chronic diarrhoea, excessive antibiotics, diuretics and

intestinal parasites.

Signs of deficiency can vary from person to person but common deficiency signs and

symptoms may include brain fog, poor concentration, forgetfulness, difficulty in falling

asleep, fatigue, muscle cramps, spasms and anxiety. If you experience sore muscles and

fatigue after exercise, this may be due to a build-up of lactic acid which can be caused by a

lack of magnesium. Soaking in an Epsom Salt bath after exercise is a great way to relieve

muscle tension.

Thankfully, there are some simple ways to help address magnesium deficiency and my four

top tips are:

1. Consider increasing your consumption of magnesium rich-foods including almonds,

cashews, buckwheat, brazil nuts, dark chocolate, avocado, wholegrains, dark green

leafy vegetables, spinach, broccoli and lentils

2. Try and reduce your intake of coffee, carbonated drinks, salt, sugar and alcohol

3. If you’re having trouble falling asleep, try rubbing magnesium oil into the skin,

especially your feet.

4. Try to include foods in your diet that contain the following nutrients as these help to

utilise, absorb and keep magnesium in the body:

- Vitamin D (mainly from sunshine)

- Thiamine (liver, oats and nuts)

- Selenium (brazil nuts, fish and turkey)

- Vitamin E (nuts, avocado, sunflower seeds)

- Vitamin B6 (fish, eggs and wholegrains)


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