Magnesium is the fourth most abundant mineral in our bodies and is found primarily in our bones. This nutrient is responsible for more than 300 biochemical reactions in the body like providing energy, regulating body temperature, helping you sleep, relaxing your muscles, and boosting your immune system yet most of us are deficient in magnesium.
A century ago Americans didn’t have a need to worry about a lack of magnesium in their system because the soil was rich with this important mineral and a proper diet was sufficient. As the levels of magnesium have depleted over the years, we are now consuming about 60% less through our diets and so taking steps to ensure our magnesium levels stay healthy is important. A lack of magnesium can contribute to dozens of health issues like high cholesterol, high blood pressure, anxiety, fatigue, muscle cramping, and inflammation, among others. Even though dietary surveys suggest that Americans do not get the recommended amounts of magnesium, symptoms of magnesium deficiency are rarely noted because a small amount of our nation’s laboratories (3%) provide the best magnesium blood tests. The signs of deficiency are often attributed to other illnesses or conditions leading to misdiagnosis or unnecessary treatments.
What can you do? Aside from taking a magnesium supplement (by following the advice of your medical doctor or naturopathic physician) you can also eat right and take a bath. Easy enough? Eating more dark greens like spinach, kale, or collard greens, as well as whole grains, nuts, pumpkin seeds, and sunflower seeds will boost your body’s magnesium levels. (you can also try a super green supplement like this one.) Soaking in a bath of Epsom salt (magnesium sulfate) will also improve magnesium levels in the body because this mineral is well absorbed through the skin. Try adding 1 to 2 cups of Epsom salts per bath and feel free to use more if you are addressing tight muscles or muscular injury as the salts can provide relief and speed healing.
Other benefits of Magnesium: Magnesium is especially helpful during cold and flu season as it helps the body deal with stress and boosts the immune system by improving digestion. Stress and mood health as well as digestive health play a big role in the function of our immune system (click the links to learn more) so during the height of germ and bacteria invasion, magnesium can help cut down your chances of getting sick.
While our bodies need magnesium to function properly, be careful to follow proper dosage. If you do have a deficiency a doctor may prescribe supplements but too much magnesium intake can be similar to magnesium deficiency and lead to nausea, diarrhea, appetite loss, difficulty breathing, low blood pressure, and irregular heartbeat. It is always best to consult your physician or naturopathic doctor if you are unsure of the dosage that is right for you.