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Wellness One-oh-Ones: Magnesium

by Hannah Smith

Welcome to the Wellness One-oh-Ones, a digital encyclopedia for all your wellness needs. This series is geared to tackle those everyday questions you secretly ask yourself in wonderment when you hear about a new trend. Instead of pretending to know what people are talking about, come hang with us as we uncover the latest and greatest in the wellness industry. Check back every other Wednesday to pick up your refill — no doctor’s signature required.

Magnesium has suddenly popped out of nowhere as a promised remedy for so many different issues. There are magnesium capsules that promise to make your bowels regular, there are magnesium supplements that aim to improve your sleep cycle, there is topical magnesium said to help ease muscle pain and tension, and even magnesium lotions to help calm skin irritations such as eczema and acne. So how do you know which magnesium you need, or even if you need magnesium at all? We dive into the topic head on below.

What is Magnesium?

Simply put, magnesium is an essential nutrient that our bodies are not capable of making on their own, so we must get it from our food or other supplements. Magnesium plays a critical role in a number of bodily functions, such as the creation of energy from carbs and fats, activating muscles and nerves, and easing stress. Sounds like a miracle nutrient, right? Well, the problem is that the majority of people are actually low in magnesium. So why do most of us lack in this essential nutrient? Most of us aren’t eating enough magnesium rich foods (think: leafy greens, cashews, salmon, flax seeds), and to make it worse, stress depletes magnesium in our bodies as if it were its job.

How Do I Know if I’m Magnesium Deficient?

Early signs of magnesium deficiency are, unfortunately, not incredibly stand out. According to Healthline, the most common symptoms are muscle twitches, fatigue, depression, anxiety, and irregular heartbeat. So does this mean nearly everyone in the world is magnesium deficient? Well, you wouldn’t be so far off in your guess. While not everyone is severely deficient, it’s estimated that up to 80% of Americans are low in magnesium, and in turn, should be taking it in some form. According to Dr. Mercola, a licensed physician and alternative medicine proponent, a magnesium deficiency can trigger up to 22 different medical conditions in the human body, ranging from anxiety and panic attacks to diabetes. Your level of deficiency can play a role in how that deficiency manifests itself, so it is best to consult with a doctor if you feel these side effects may be a larger issue

How Much Magnesium Do I Need?

According to the National Institutes of Health, adult women require about 320mg a day and adult men require about 420mg a day (for a more in depth dosage chart, click here). The good thing is that you can fulfill this basic requirement with food. As mentioned above, there are tons of magnesium rich foods you can consume to help ensure you keep your magnesium levels up. For some, this might not be enough. If you still feel you are experiencing side effects of magnesium deficiency, you might need to take a daily supplement. But as per most supplements, there is no one-size-fits all dose, and each individual should consult with a professional before consuming.

What are the Best Uses of Magnesium?

Because magnesium deficiency can cause a plethora of issues, taking magnesium in one of its many forms can help reverse nearly all of those. We break it down, issue by issue, below.

Digestion

One of magnesium’s most widely popular benefits is how it helps to relieve constipation. If you’re looking to regulate your bowels, opt for a magnesium citrate supplement to help relax the muscles internally and give a gentle laxative effect that will have you regular in no time.

Migraines

Unfortunately, a lack of magnesium can trigger serious migraines, so taking a magnesium supplement daily is a good avenue to explore if you suffer on a regular basis. It’s been proven that taking magnesium to ease migraines can effectively reduce the frequency of your migraines over time.

Skin Flare Ups

With winter in full force, common skin afflictions, such as dryness, sensitivity, and redness are bound to get worse, but even magnesium can help with that. Magnesium can be found in a variety of topical creams and oils, so if you spot a product with magnesium chloride listed as a key ingredient, snag it to help ease symptoms of eczema, dermatitis, and acne.

Sleep

We all rely on a good night’s sleep, so when you’re not getting that full, deep, sleep, the effects are brutal. If you’re looking to catch some more Zs, look into a magnesium glycinate supplement. According to certified nutritionist, Adrienne Dowd, magnesium glycinate “can be used for relaxation, increased sleep quality, and stress relief.”

Muscle Pain

To think that muscle pains and spasms can be pushed to the wayside by one supplement is both amazing and a little mind blowing. There are two forms of magnesium that can be of great help. Firstly, magnesium chloride is not only good for external skin flare ups, but is fantastic for calming muscles when absorbed through the skin. This is most commonly found in sprays and oils, to be applied directly to the body. But if you’re looking to make a night out of it, soak in some magnesium sulfate, aka Epson bath salts. Yeah, your favorite drug store steal is loaded with magnesium to help you take the load off whenever your body is feeling run down.

[Editor’s Note: Since we’re not know-it-alls, always make sure to consult with a doctor before trying anything new. We’re here to guide and provide information that could potentially help, but each person is different so do what’s right for you!]

Feature Image via Ella Xu

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