Joint pain, insomnia, low mood and energy — if you’ve experienced any of these symptoms, ugh, we feel for you. Symptoms like these can really interfere with our quality of life, but they are often caused by nutritional deficiencies that can be easily remedied by adding nutrient-rich foods and supplements, like magnesium, to your diet.
About 50 percent of Americans are deficient in magnesium, a mineral which is crucial to over 300 essential chemical reactions in the body. Magnesium helps us convert food into energy, form new proteins for muscle tissue, create and repair our DNA, contract and relax our muscles, and regulate our nervous system, to name a few. So getting more magnesium in your diet can help you age slower, have more energy, sleep better — and even lose weight!
Among its many benefits, magnesium is also said to alleviate symptoms of depression. In a study published in the journal Magnesium Research, depressed adults given 450 mg of magnesium per day saw improvements in mood equal to those on medications for depression. Some experts even claim that the removal of magnesium from modern-day foods through extensive processing might be a major cause of depressive symptoms, considering that the mineral plays such a significant role in mood regulation in the brain. Interesting!
Another major benefit of magnesium is that it’s a potent anti-inflammatory. Inflammation is the root cause of many diseases, as well as things like joint and muscle pain. A low intake of magnesium has been linked to chronic inflammation. On top of sickness, chronic inflammation can cause things like premature aging and obesity, which means that increasing your magnesium intake is important if you’re looking to maintain a healthy body and weight over time.
Another study of 100 older adults found that supplementing with magnesium significantly lowered inflammatory markers in subjects compared to a placebo group. And because of its anti-inflammatory properties, magnesium is also used as a potent pain reliever for aching muscles and joints, migraines, and even PMS!
Magnesium really goes to work at helping the body to relax, and in that regard, it makes a great sleep aid. Magnesium regulates neurotransmitters which connect the nervous system and the brain, helping to encourage a sense of calm in the body. It also has an effect on the hormone melatonin which is responsible for the body’s sleep/wake cycles. In fact, magnesium binds to the same neurotransmitter, GABA, that is used by prescription sleep medications like Ambien. That’s all-natural sleep power without the drowzy side effects!
In addition to all these benefits, magnesium has been praised for its ability to lower blood pressure, fight the effects of Type 2 Diabetes, enhance exercise performance, and much more. So, if you’re ready to start incorporating it into your daily health routine, we can’t say we blame you. Luckily, there are a few ways to get more magnesium. Plenty of foods are loaded with the mineral, like fatty fish, almonds and cashews, avocados, spinach, pumpkin seeds, and yes — dark chocolate (that’s the 70 to 80 percent cacao version, of course).
However, if you’re looking to take a magnesium supplement to boost your intake, there are plenty of options to choose from. As always, speak to your doctor before taking any new supplements. Magnesium can affect those on heart medications, diuretics, or antibiotics. For a great, high-quality magnesium supplement, try this one from Garden of Life ($25.13, Amazon). What's more, you can even purchase your magnesium in the form of a pain-relieving oil spray!