If you’re feeling stressed, tense or twitchy the chances are your body is craving the benefits of magnesium. This potent mineral is regarded as a secret weapon against health issues as diverse as diabetes, high blood pressure, insomnia, depression, noise induced hearing loss and even cancer.
Did you know – magnesium also eases sleep disorders and anxiety and is a proven tonic for troublesome skin? See below for more on this.
I’ve studied the scientific papers and this ‘magic mineral’ really does support the nervous system and keep skin looking clear and beautiful.
So here’s all the medical know-how you need to harness the enormous benefits of magnesium.
What does magnesium do?
Magnesium is the body’s fourth most abundant mineral and is the catalyst for more than 300 important biochemical reactions – mostly in the brain, muscles and bones.
The ultimate relaxant, it helps uncoil tension in both mind and body such as muscle tightness, irritability, cramps (sports injuries/period pains) and stiffness.
Not having enough of this nutrient can be hugely detrimental to your health.
One study in the Journal of Intensive Care Medicine goes as far as saying magnesium deficiency makes you twice as likely to die as people who have optimum levels.
Doctors even use it intravenously in critical situations such as seizures and heart disorders. And one US doctor says 65 % of people admitted to intensive care have magnesium deficiency.
So it’s hardly surprising this disease-preventing mineral is one of the most popular today. Not only does it regulate muscle and nerve function, blood sugar levels and blood pressure, it makes protein, bone and DNA.
One of the most important benefits of magnesium is helping cells make energy. Its existence is essential for an important cell protein called ATP (adenosine triphosphate) to provide energy for almost all our metabolic processes.
Benefits of magnesium for problem skin
Research has revealed increasing your magnesium intake may also help solve problem skin.
Magnesium and calcium are required in the fluid surrounding cells to aid wound healing. So having optimum magnesium levels helps naturally repair acne-prone skin.
It also has therapeutic qualities for those with sensitive skin. Proof comes in the form of a test on rats that were fed a magnesium-deficient diet leading to itchy, inflamed skin.
Why is it likely you are magnesium deficient?
Studies have shown it’s likely more than half of adults are not meeting the recommended daily amount (RDA) which is 310-320mg for women and 400-420mg for men.
See here for RDAs for all our ages and stages of life.
The benefits of magnesium were easy to obtain a century ago when we got an estimated 500mg daily dose from food alone. But unfortunately, many of us are now deficient due to highly processed diets and the deterioration of soil.
Unfortunately, few tests are able to accurately diagnose magnesium deficiency. Only about 1% of it is detectable in blood tests while 50 to 60% resides in bones and soft tissues.
Some factors triggering poor magnesium absorption include not having enough Vitamin B6, Vitamin D and selenium in your diet. This has led some researchers to recommend taking 600-900mg of magnesium a day.
Other common reasons are:
- Consuming excess alcohol, salt, coffee (diuretics), acidic fizzy drinks
- A high fibre / low protein diet
- Heavy periods
- Drugs including antibiotics
- Illness involving upset stomachs
How you know you need magnesium
The great news is you can rebalance by knowing the symptoms of low magnesium stores.
These include migraines, heart palpitations, irritability, fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue.
Less well known symptoms of magnesium deficiency are:
- Kidney stones
- Trouble swallowing
- Eye twitches/restless legs/attention deficit disorder
With such a broad list of health problems linked to being low in this mineral – it can be hard to work out if you need to boost your intake. But doctors say more magnesium-rich meals are better than supplements.
The body has built-in mechanisms to naturally rid itself of excess minerals through naturally excreted waste.
But magnesium pills and powders are easier to overdose and their absorption can be blocked by stomach acids. Ingesting too much can cause nausea, diarrhoea and, in extreme cases, heart palpitations or heart attack.
Thankfully, there are many safe ways it can be added to your daily beauty and recipe routines so you can reap all the benefits of magnesium.
Lips and skin literally lap it up via mineral-packed makeup such as Lip Nourish, whose cold pressed avocado oils assist skin barrier repair. Many magnesium oils, sprays and roll-ons on the market promise to relieve migraines, muscle spasms and sleeplessness.
While simply taking a bath with magnesium flakes (magnesium chloride), which are more potent than traditional Epsom salts (magnesium sulphate), can relax muscles, calm the nervous system and soothe dry, flaky skin caused by psoriasis and eczema.
Scientists have proved its potency as a skin protector by applying magnesium salts directly onto damaged skin which sped up healing. But be cautious of products claiming to remove skin tags, sun spots, moles and blemishes. These need to be assessed by a doctor.
By far the best way to extract your optimum magnesium levels is through nutrient-filled foods that work with your body to restore natural equilibrium.
The mix of food is important as fibre tends to reduce magnesium absorption rates while probiotics (yoghurt) doubles them.
Here’s a list of 17 top magnesium rich foods to consume for radiant skin and a stress-free life:
Fruits & Vegetables:
Prickly pear – 88mg in one piece of fruit
Spinach – 83mg in 1/2 cup of cooked spinach
Chard – 80mg in 1/2 cup of cooked chard
Potato – 44-55mg in a medium cooked potato with skin!
Soy cheese – 114mg in 50g of soy cheese
Soy yoghurt – 70mg in 3/4 cup of soy yoghurt
Milk – 24-27mg in 1 cup
Nuts & seeds:
Pumpkin seed – 317mg in 1/4 cup
Brazil nuts – 133mg in 1/4 cup
Sunflower seeds – 115mg in 1/4 cup
Almonds – 88-109mg in 1/4 cup
Cashews – 90mg in 1/4 cup
Quinoa – 63mg in 125ml of cooked quinoa
Banana – 32mg in 1 medium banana
Avocado – 44mg in 1 cup
Figs – 20mg in 100grams of fresh figs
Dark chocolate –the ultimate indulgence – need I say more!
292mg in 100 grams of bitter / dark chocolate
You can find more foods with their magnesium content on the Dietitians of Canada website