The magic of magnesium and how to get more!

Today I want to talk about Magnesium. A session with a long running client ended short this week as she experienced a sharp cramp in her calf. The conversation that followed triggered me to ask whether she was taking magnesium and in fact had I asked all of my clients that question so here I am.

Do you use Magnesium? Do you understand how important magnesium is for a healthy lifestyle and why as active, sleep deprived, working, exercising, life juggling mothers it is even more critical to ensure we get enough Magnesium to stay on form for all that life throws at us.

Why Magnesium?

Experts estimate that 80-95+% percent of adults are deficient in magnesium, and this can have negative consequences on our health, mood and lifestyle since the body uses magnesium in the processes that regulate heart health, mental health, blood pressure, and during pregnancy. In fact, magnesium is one of the most-needed minerals in the body and is involved in hundreds of biochemical reactions.

Low magnesium levels are often diagnosed by symptoms alone, and I fyou suffer any of the following there’s a good chance you may need to address your magnesium levels:

• Muscle soreness or spasms
• High levels of stress
• Headaches
• Heart “flutters” or palpitations
• Fatigue or unusual tiredness
• Inability to sleep or insomnia
• Irritability
• Sensitivity to noise
• Mental disturbances
• Anxiety, depression or restlessness
• Infertility or PMS
• Coldness in extremities
• Fuzzy brain or difficulty concentrating
• Allergies and sensitivities
• Lack of appetite
• Back pain
• Body odor
• Bad short term memory
• Carbohydrate cravings
• Constipation
• Frequent cavities or poor dental health
• Gut disorders
• Thyroid problems

If you have more than one of the above symptoms and more importantly over five then it is highly likely you are low in magnesium. It even got me wondering whether baby brain is really a thing or whether we are all just magnesium deficient!?

Either way it is highly likely that you could benefit from magnesium supplementation. And unlike other minerals and vitamins, ingesting Magnesium is not considered the most effective approach. Often times taking an oral supplement is not ideal as ingestion of the magnesium can be as little as 20-50% and can often make the kidneys work a lot harder than they need to in order to digest the supplement.

How To Get Enough Magnesium

Magnesium can be found in many of the foods that are readily available such as yoghurt, almonds, spinach, pepitas, avocado, dark chocolate. (In fact craving chocolate can often be a sign you are magnesium deficient).

The tricky part of the magnesium puzzle is that our lifestyle, the way food is sourced and prepared, fluoride in out water supply, high levels of caffeine, alcohol and stress, f can deplete our levels of magnesium as fast as we try to absorb it.

Added to this, magnesium is often not well absorbed by the digestive track, and is even more difficult to absorb if you are deficient or are low in vitamin D, have poor gut bacteria or suffer from a number of other conditions.

Either way, ingesting Magnesium is not considered the most effective approach. Often times ingestion of the magnesium can be as little as 20-50% and can often make the kidneys work a lot harder than they need to. The best way to add magnesium to your life is topically. Ideally a good soak in the bath is brilliant but if you are like me, baths are something you have time for on holidays or that one night you skip off into the city and dump the kids on a poor unsuspecting relative for the night.
Lucky for us magnesium comes in crystals you can add to baths, foot soaks or even drinking water. You can buy or make your own sprays, creams or roll ons. Magnesium is far more effective absorbed straight through the skin which I find very convenient. Unlike internal doses of magnesium, topical magnesium does not have to pass through the digestive system and kidneys and can more quickly enter the blood and tissues of the body.

I rub some on after workouts and on all my soft spots before I go to bed ie. soles of feet, behind my knees, underarms and behind my neck. With all the training (and sweating!) I do I am actively working against cramps and tired legs so for me life is not worth living without magnesium, and I definitely cannot lie down, let alone sleep with the restless legs and cramps I get without it.

I have experimented with a variety of magnesium supplements over the years and now drink a post sports magnesium/electrolyte powder to help with rehydration and magnesium replacement after workouts. Sometimes if I’m training twice or doing a particularly demanding session I will also have a magnesium supplement powder for muscular energy or recharge. Then at night I apply a topical roll on as mentioned above.

After races and when I can I try to soak in the tub. I will be trying a foot soak this weekend too. Figured it will make me relax for twenty minutes after a four-hour bike ride, plus give me a good dose of healthy magnesium without the stress of the bathroom door knocking every 2 minutes with another question from the kids!

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