Poor Sleep, Cramps and Headaches? It Could Be a Magnesium Deficiency
It’s been estimated that over half of the U.S. population of is deficient in magnesium. Many Americans don’t get enough magnesium in their diets, and unfortunately, magnesium deficiencies often go undetected. Physicians don’t typically request magnesium testing unless a more serious risk present such as arrhythmias or kidney disorders. So while many legitimate deficiencies go undocumented, they do not go unnoticed to those that are made aware of the impact increased magnesium intake can have on health. Studies have indicated that magnesium can relieve muscle cramping, reduce blood sugar and improve sleep.
I can attest to this on a person level as well. When I started taking supplemental magnesium in addition to increasing my dietary magnesium, I immediately noticed a profound improvement. I felt more relaxed, slept better and had fewer headaches overtime–something I was, and still am, extremely grateful for!
What Can Magnesium Do for You?
As the forth most abundant mineral in the body, magnesium plays an important role in over 300 enzymatic reactions in the body, including those responsible for the production of ATP, DNA and RNA. Here’s a short list of what else magnesium does for you:
- Helps maintain nerve function
- Ensures proper muscle contraction and relaxation
- Aids in the synthesis of proteins
- Assists calcium and vitamin D in keeping your bones strong (50% of your body’s magnesium is found in your bones.)
- Supports a healthy immune system
- Steadies your heart rhythm
- Helps regulate blood sugar
Should You Take a Magnesium Supplement?
Since so much of magnesium’s function occurs on a cellular level (or even smaller than that), it can be hard for an you to determine when he or she may not be meeting their body’s needs (as is the case with many nutrients). Some symptoms that might indicate a magnesium deficiency include muscle spasms, loss of appetite or weakness. But since these symptoms may not appear even when levels are too low, I like to focus on what magnesium does for you when there is plenty of it in your system.
Oftentimes, the “other” benefits of a nutrient will go undocumented if they don’t play a unique role in relieving a specific medical condition. But many people who focus on increasing their daily magnesium intake report fewer headaches, positive mood changes, better sleep and more efficient breathing. They also experience fewer cramps while exercising, which can lead to longer, more effective workouts. There is even evidence that magnesium can keep your cells young.
How Much Magnesium Do You Need?
It’s recommended that most people obtain about 400 mg of magnesium daily; however there are cases in which people need more, due to reduced mineral absorption. If you are at risk for reduced mineral absorption (or increased mineral excretion), you may want to consider increasing your daily intake of magnesium.
Groups that may need higher than 400 mg of magnesium a day include:
- People over the age of 50
- Those with chronic kidney trouble
- Those with poorly controlled diabetes (resulting in hypoglycemia)
- Gastric bypass patients
- Those with intestinal disorders such as Crohn’s disease, IBD, or regional enteritis
Food First: Good Sources of Magnesium
So, in addition to supplements, what food sources can you reach for to get a little magnesium?
- Greens, especially dark leafy ones: Dark leafy greens are the no-fail ”go to” for magnesium. All five of the different chlorophyll molecules (the molecule responsible for the green color of many veggies) cage magnesium in the center, which makes it super easy to obtain.
- Halibut: This white fish can provide up to 180 mg per 6 oz. fillet.
- Cashews (be sure to get the no salt added kind): My favorite snack nut provides 75 mg per ounce.
- Baked potatoes: My favorite complex carbohydrate contains roughly 50 mg of the good stuff. Omit the butter and sour cream if you are watching your fat intake. I like to use salsa on mine, as it adds tons of flavor and extra antioxidants.
So I guess one could say that magnesium is my favorite mineral because it appears in some of my favorite foods, but it’s so much more than that. I love the differences I notice when I really focus on how much magnesium I get daily. I sleep better. I think more clearly. I just function better! Magnesium contributes to wellness so much more than it is often given credit for.