Magnesium: What Is It and Who Needs It?

You’ve probably heard a lot about magnesium lately, especially if you follow the wellness community… it’s being touted as the magic mineral that everyone is lacking and fixes everything. While that’s not necessarily the case, the claims do have some validity. Magnesium is an important mineral that many people today are lacking, and it’s important to learn more about it — especially if you’re looking to up your magnesium intake.

What is Magnesium?

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), “magnesium is a nutrient that the body needs to stay healthy. Magnesium is important for many processes in the body, including regulating muscle and nerve function, blood sugar levels, and blood pressure and making protein, bone, and DNA.” In short, magnesium does a lot for you body and without it, our bodies don’t process properly.

Because our bodies were created to maintain balance, it’s necessary to consume the correct amount of nutrients in order to function properly. When we have nutrient imbalances, our daily activities and lifestyles can be interrupted. Since magnesium plays such a huge role in our health, it’s crucial for us to keep it regulated.

What Foods Contain Magnesium?

Fortunately, many foods that we eat contain magnesium, and if we are following a well-rounded diet, ideally, we should get enough magnesium for our bodies to function naturally. Unfortunately, many of us don’t eat enough magnesium-rich foods, and even if we consciously try to, many foods today are genetically modified and don’t contain the same nutrient make up that they used to.

While we can’t do much to change the food available to us, we can make an effort to choose foods that do have the nutrients we need. There are many foods out there that contain magnesium, but these are some of our favorites:

  • Dark leafy greens;
  • Seeds/nuts;
  • Bananas;
  • Avocados;
  • Whole grains;
  • Yogurts; and
  • Dark chocolate.

Signs of Magnesium Deficiency

Do you have insomnia? Muscle cramps? Bad PMS symptoms? All of these are signs of a possible magnesium deficiency. Other symptoms include headaches, fatigue, loss of appetite, and anxiety/irritability.

While the above mentioned symptoms can mean you need to increase your magnesium intake, they could also be symptoms of something else. If you do have any of those symptoms, it’s important to discuss them with your healthcare provider. They can run tests to see which nutrients you may need to increase and which you should decrease.

Can Magnesium Help Me Sleep?

Trouble sleeping is the worst! With so many people stressed out these days, cortisol levels are through the roof and it’s not helping our sleep cycles any. Instead of trying to get to the root of the problem, most of us just want something to help us go to sleep so we can begin again tomorrow. Luckily, or maybe unluckily, there are so many sleeping aids out there! So, how do we choose? And is magnesium the new magic answer?

Well, magnesium can help relax your body. In fact, it is used to stop labor and calm severe asthma attacks because it relaxes large muscle groups. Pretty cool, huh? That means that it can also relax your body when you need to go to sleep. That’s why many people take epsom salt (magnesium citrate) baths to ease muscle soreness or relax before bed.

So, the short answer is, yes, magnesium can help you sleep. But, you want to be careful not to use too much before bedtime. Too much magnesium can cause abdominal pain, nausea, and stomach issues. That’s why you shouldn’t overload yourself just to get a good night’s rest. Instead, try taking a relaxing epsom salt bath and soak for about 20 minutes. You can even add lavender or another relaxing essential oil to help quiet your mind and soothe your body. When you get out, be sure to drink plenty of water and then go to sleep soon after.

Should You Take Magnesium?

While the media may make you think everyone is lacking in magnesium, that is not necessarily true. It is likely you may not be getting enough in your daily diet, so if you do have some of the symptoms of magnesium deficiency, it may help to add more magnesium-rich foods into your meals. Adding an epsom salt bath to your nightly routine may also help relax you, prevent muscle cramps, and help you sleep better.

Since it’s such an important nutrient for our body, it’s important to consume the right amount of magnesium. If you do not eat enough foods that contain it, you may want to look into adding a supplement into your daily routine. Speak to a healthcare provider about whether or not they think you should do this and make sure you don’t take too much.

Like most things, balance is key. There is evidence that our society is lacking in their magnesium intake, and there is a good chance you may not be getting the right amount, especially if you have fatigue, muscle cramps, PMS, headaches, or other related symptoms. If this is is the case, a magnesium supplement may be beneficial. Wouldn’t it be great to have a simple fix to all of those ailments?

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