Magnesium: A Vital Mineral

magnesium

This simple mineral is key to a solid night's sleep. It seems that every time I recommend it to someone, they can't believe how great it works.
It's the third most abundant mineral in sea water. With the earth's surface being covered by 71% ocean water, I'd say this mineral is pretty abundant and for good reason — it's one of the most important minerals for our bodies.

Functions

Magnesium is responsible for many biological functions. Every single cell and organ uses it, especially the heart, kidneys, and muscles. Without adequate magnesium, they cannot function. More than 300 enzymatic processes in the body depend on it. It plays an essential role in detoxification, balancing hormones, maintaining healthy nervous and cardiovascular systems, digesting macronutrients (carbs, fats, and proteins) and so much more. Magnesium also creates energy in the body in the form of ATP (activating adenosine triphosphate).

Calcium works synergistically with magnesium so should be at a ratio of 1:1 in the body. While calcium contracts muscles, magnesium relaxes them which is why it contributes beautifully to a good night's sleep. When there's an excessive amount of calcium without the counterbalance of magnesium, many risks are present — heart attack, stroke, sudden death. Muscles can also go into spasms which can contribute to painful menstrual cramping, asthma and worse. 

 

over 75% of Americans are deficient in magnesium (1).

 

Deficiency associations

  • insomnia
  • muscle cramps
  • anxiety & depression
  • much more...
  • hypertension
  • joint pain
  • headaches & migraines
  • acid reflux
 

Sources & Supplementation

salt bath

Natural dietary sources of magnesium are seaweed, leafy vegetables, certain nuts and seeds, avocados and whole grains. Unfortunately, NPK fertilizers (nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium) act as chelators and block the uptake of many minerals in our soil which is why about 80% of Americans are deficient in this vital mineral. Another reason for deficiency is that many prescription drugs, fluoride, and stress are known to deplete our body's stores. Caffeine and alcohol can also affect your magnesium levels.  

To get magnesium from nuts and seeds, purchase them raw since roasting can pull the oil out which is where most of this mineral is found. In green vegetables, be sure to either steam them or drink the water that remains after boiling since minerals are leached into it. For a more in-depth look into this very important mineral please see Katherine Czapp's article on the Weston A. Price website. She dives deep into the functions, depletion and supplementation. I highly recommend reading it. 

Epsom salt baths (magnesium sulfate) are a great way to supplement magnesium. Regular soaking allows for absorption through the skin and who doesn't enjoy a calming bath right before bed. You can also apply gels topically such as Ancient Minerals,' but this makes me itchy. I have to rinse it off about 20 minutes later. My favorite way to get it is through my diet via Natural Vitality's Calm. It comes in a powder form which I sprinkle into warm water, like a tea. I've never slept more soundly. It's pure alchemy.