December 9th 2014
Are you getting enough magnesium?
October 26th 2016
Magnesium deficiency affects around 70% of the population - are you part of that percentage? Here’s the experts’ guide for topping up your daily intake
Could you be magnesium deficient and if so, does it really matter? In a nutshell, yes. From fatigue to headaches, low energy to poor sleep, its absence can leave a range of unpleasant and unexpected ailments in its wake.
Is it common? Extremely so and the reasons for it are wide-ranging. “Magnesium is an essential mineral that is often lacking in our modern diets,” says nutritional therapist and GTG Expert Zoe Stirling. “A common cause of this is stress - both emotional and physical. The latter includes foods or stimulants, (e.g. sugar, coffee and alcohol), that can put our adrenal glands in ‘fight or flight’ mode. The ‘fight or flight’ response stimulates the adrenal glands to produce cortisol and adrenalin, our primary stress hormones. When levels of stress hormones are high, magnesium is depleted and over time this can cause deficiency in some individuals.”
Zoe also highlights our current eating habits as a key cause too: “A typical Western diet is often made up of a good proportion of refined and processed foods which are lacking in magnesium. Modern farming methods further deplete this mineral,” she explains. “The need for high magnesium during stressful times coupled with dietary shortfalls often lead to deficiencies.”
Insufficient supply and excessive demand could go some way to explaining our collective shortage. “I believe that the reason for this deficiency is that magnesium is involved in over 300 biochemical reactions within the body and our dietary intake simply cannot match the body’s requirements,” says Shabir Daya, natural health specialist, GTG Expert and co-founder of Victoria Health. “Magnesium deficiency is widespread in the adult population affecting some 70%.” Do you fall into this category? Here’s how to find out.
What are the symptoms of magnesium deficiency?
Both physical and mental, the signs of magnesium deficiency manifest themselves in a variety of different ways. According to Zoe, early warning signs include:
• Loss of appetite
• Muscle cramps or spasms
• Low energy or fatigue
• Blood sugar imbalance
• Sleep problems
• Inability to cope with stress
How can you treat it?
Ranging from dietary modifications to supplements and topical options, there’s a variety of choices at a selection of price points available to help top up your daily intake.
First and foremost, diet must always be addressed
Foods rich in magnesium
Supplements aside, injecting your diet with foods high in magnesium should be your first port of call. “First and foremost, diet must always be addressed,” says Zoe. “Increase your intake of magnesium-rich foods such as dark green leafy vegetables (green juices are great!), nuts and seeds, as well as wholemeal rice – these should become a mainstay in the diet.”
Take care to ensure though that your culinary skills don’t stilt their goodness. “Cooking can deplete magnesium levels in foods, so eat dark green leafy vegetables raw or just lightly steamed whenever possible,” recommends Zoe. “Magnesium is often poorly absorbed by the body so maintaining good gut health is also incredibly important!” she adds and try to stay away from fizzy drinks to help achieve optimum results. “Fizzy drinks can also interfere with the body’s absorption of magnesium, so they should be reduced or removed from the diet as much as possible,” explains Zoe.
Magnesium supplements, oils, sprays and salts explained
As far as supplements go, tailor them according to the severity of your problems. “Depending on a client’s symptoms, I may suggest magnesium in a number of forms,” says Zoe.
“For those who suffer from moderate stress levels or occasional sleeping issues, magnesium or Epsom salts in the bath are a wonderful way of supplementing magnesium as it can be absorbed through the skin. Baths are also a wonderful form of relaxation to help chill out and wind down after a busy day, therefore encouraging better lifestyle habits in dealing with stress and sleep. Make bathing into a delicious self-indulgent ritual!” she recommends.
Magnesium salts or flakes can also help soothe a number of skin ailments too. “While magnesium is crucial for energy production, for nerve relaxation, for migraines, for bone health and numerous other concerns, most people do not realise that magnesium oil flakes are excellent for inflamed skin conditions such as eczema and dermatitis,” explains Shabir Daya. His top pick? Better You Magnesium Oil Original Flakes, £9.95. We’re also huge fans of Westlab Pure Dead Sea Salt - a one-stop shop for taking you from bath to bed to beyond, and to help soothe skin ailments like eczema and psoriasis. Plus, it comes in at a very purse-friendly £4.99 - a blissful budget beauty buy of the highest order.
The benefits of magnesium go further than skin-deep and can help kick-start a sluggish digestive system too. “For those who suffer from constipation - I sometimes get clients to buy magnesium oil and rub it onto their stomachs in a clockwise direction when looking down at their stomach,” says Zoe. “The combination of massage along with the magnesium often helps to get things moving in the right direction.” BetterYou Original Magnesium Oil, £12.69, is one of our personal favourites for fast and effective absorption (and relief).
“For those suffering from chronic stress or are highly magnesium deficient - I may suggest a supplement such as Wild Nutrition’s Food-Grown® Magnesium, £16.50,” advises Zoe. “Like all the Wild Nutrition supplements, they are made from whole food ingredients rather than being synthesised in a lab, which means they’re in a form that the body understands, resulting in better absorption.” The range’s Food-Grown™ formulation is what makes it particularly stand out from the crowd and is counted as a favourite among nutrition experts.
Shabir points out also that supplements can go some way to help offset some of the nutrition sapping side-effects of modern farming: “Dietary intake of green leafy vegetables, spinach and pumpkin seeds would be normally good to supplement magnesium however, modern agricultural practices have resulted in magnesium deficiency within the foods we ingest and hence it would be prudent to use a supplement to insure against a deficiency of the vital mineral,” he explains. “I prefer the use of Neuro-Mag capsules by Life Extension, £33, or for those who cannot swallow capsules or tablets, Pure Magnesium Oil Spray by Life Flo, £16.50.”
Is there such a thing as too much magnesium?
As with most things, magnesium is best taken in moderation. “There is a case of too much magnesium and doses less than 350mg per day are generally considered as safe,” advises Shabir. “Excess magnesium can cause diarrhoea since it is a hard mineral to metabolise and other side-effects can be irregular heartbeat, slow breathing and it may affect kidney function.” If you are unsure about what your best dosage might be, do seek the help of an expert to ensure you manage your magnesium effectively.
Disclaimer: Certain supplements are used for different reasons and a one-size-fits-all approach should never be adopted. In addition, pregnant women and anyone on medication should always consult a doctor before embarking on a supplements programme.