Did you know that half of Americans don't get enough magnesium in their diets? We've teamed up with Linda Lin, a holistic nutritionist, herbalist, and positive mindset coach to give you the lowdown on what magnesium is, why it's so important to your body, and how you can get more of it!
What is magnesium and why does it matter?
Magnesium is one of the 7 macrominerals we need to keep our bones, brain, heart, muscles and nerves functioning properly. It is responsible for over 300 biochemical functions in our body including the production of enzymes and hormones.
What are the benefits of magnesium?
Magnesium's is most known for helping with sleep and stress.
Magnesium helps with stress because it suppresses the release of stress hormones from the hippocampus (the part of the brain involved in emotions, memory and learning) which then reduces the release of cortisol and adrenaline from the adrenals. It is also involved in serotonin production which is the hormone that stabilizes your mood, promotes well being and relaxation.
Magnesium also regulates the hormone melatonin which guides our sleep-wake cycle and helps you fall asleep and stay asleep. It promotes physical relaxation of your muscles by countering the effects of calcium which can tighten and contract muscles.
Stress and sleepless nights depletes our magnesium levels at a faster rate, so it becomes even more important to replenish because deficiency will keep us in the cycle of stress by impacting our sleep and cause anxiety. Alcohol and caffeine accelerates the loss of magnesium further.
What are some foods that contain magnesium?
You can find magnesium in seeds, nuts, dark leafy greens, dark chocolate, beans, mackerel, and bananas. This is why Nufs Black Sesame Superfood Bites are a great way of getting magnesium in your diet through whole food.
Would you say most people get enough magnesium via their diet, or is it often beneficial to supplement?
Magnesium is actually one of the common nutrient deficiencies and I recommend supplementation even for those with a healthy diet. The magnesium content in our food has been gradually declining since the 1940’s due to pesticides and fertilizers that have been depleting the nutrients in our soil.
That said, eating whole foods should always be the main way you try to satisfy your nutritional needs instead of relying on a magnesium vitamin alone.
Who needs magnesium most? Who is it most useful for?
Everyone needs magnesium, it is the 4th most abundant mineral in our body. Deficiency can cause migraines, depression, high blood pressure, anxiety, low energy, disturbed sleep, PMS, asthma, hormone imbalance, constipation, hearing loss, diabetes, irregular heartbeat, bone loss, muscle spasms and cramps.
For supplements, magnesium glycinate is much more gentle on the stomach than other forms of magnesium and is good for gut health, magnesium l-threonate is a bit pricier but has superior absorption with its ability to cross the blood-brain barrier and is great for more cognitive related issues.
Soaks and sprays work well as our body absorbs about 60% of what we put on it. It’s a great option for individuals that have a tough time swallowing pills including children or for ailments that would benefit from direct contact with the mineral like muscle aches and skin conditions. Taking a hot bath or massaging oil into your body is also really relaxing and a great way to unwind. On the other hand, it is more time consuming and less precise for dosing.
For baths, I would opt for magnesium chloride flakes over epsom salt (magnesium sulfate) for purity and better absorption. Magnesium oil is simply magnesium chloride suspended in water, some people swear by it for muscle aches and cramps. I have my clients rub it into the bottom of their babies feets.
What is the recommended dosage? How much magnesium do you need each day?
350 - 420mg is the daily RDA, up to 500mg is safe especially if you are already deficient.
Is it possible to overdo it?
Getting too much magnesium from food is uncommon and our kidneys have the ability to filter out excess magnesium. Too much magnesium through supplementation or magnesium is possible. People with kidney disease should always consult their doctor prior to supplementation
Are there any side effects of magnesium?
High dose of magnesium from supplementation or medications can cause diarrhea, nausea, cramps and vomiting. Fatality from overdose of magnesium is rare in healthy individuals.
Linda LinLearn more about Linda
Holistic Nutritionist, Herbalist and Positive Mindset Coach
Linda studied holistic nutrition at Bauman College in Berkeley, California, herbalism at The Ohlone Herbal Center in Berkeley, California and green medicine at The New York Open Center in New York City. In her spare time, she loves to cook, dance like nobody’s watching, travel, spend time in nature and nerd out on all things nutrition, plant medicine, epigenetics and biohacking.