Magnesium is a natural mineral that serves many important functions in the body. Two critical ones include regulation of muscle contraction and movement of electric impulses along nerves. The importance of this becomes clearer when considering the variety of muscles that we rely on every day to help us move and breathe, and even for the heart to pump blood throughout the body and keep a regular rhythm. It also impacts nerves in the brain which influence mood and mental health.
Unfortunately, many of us are deficient in magnesium and don’t realize it. Since our body is unable to produce magnesium on its own, an important way to prevent a magnesium deficiency is by eating magnesium-rich foods. Good sources include bananas, leafy greens especially kale, spinach, and Swiss chard, potato with the skin, avocado, quinoa, nuts and seeds such as almonds, cashews, flaxseed and pumpkin seeds, and legumes including lentils, beans and peas.
In addition to eating magnesium-rich foods, there are benefits in getting higher levels of magnesium from a supplement. Supplementation can prevent or relieve many sources of pain, including headaches, migraines, muscle aches, and cramps including during menstruation. If taken before or after physical activity, a magnesium supplement can prevent or reduce muscle soreness. It is a natural way to treat or prevent constipation and can promote restful sleep by helping to calm the mind and relieve irritated nerves responsible for restless leg syndrome. Significant mental health benefits from supplementing with magnesium include reduction in feelings of stress, anger, irritability, anxiety, and depression.
There are various forms of magnesium supplements, but the one I have found most helpful is magnesium glycinate. It is available over-the-counter in capsule-form. I keep a big bottle of it on the kitchen counter and my family uses it whenever they need it.
Eating magnesium-rich foods and adding a magnesium supplement to address specific needs is a powerful health and wellness combination.
Knowledge is power, my friends. Here’s to your health.
Karen M. Gutierrez, PhD, RN, Advanced Holistic Nurse-Board Certified