21st February 2022. Written by Emily Birch for VitalOrganico
Read time: 5 minutes
If you find relaxing a challenge and/or you often struggle to sleep well, there’s an easily obtainable mineral that might just prove to be your new best friend.
Cast your mind back to chemistry lessons at school; do you remember the periodic table? The alkali earth metal that goes by the symbol ‘Mg’ on that periodic table is magnesium and it’s one of the most abundant mineral in the human body by weight.
So, what does magnesium do?
Mighty magnesium is needed for more than 300 biochemical reactions in the body and it’s a vital co-factor for other vitamins and minerals too, working synergistically and helping them do their job. For example, magnesium helps the body absorb and use vitamin D, whilst vitamin D aids with the absorption of magnesium in the intestines.
Magnesium is essential for healthy nerve and muscle function, a strong immune system and strong bones. It helps to regulate your heartbeat and is involved in the production of energy in your cells. It even helps to regulate your blood sugar levels.
A healthy adult body contains around 25g of magnesium, over half of which is stored in the bones whilst the rest is situated in various body tissues. Very little magnesium is found in the blood, which is why assessing magnesium levels via blood testing is difficult. Magnesium deficiency is usually diagnosed via signs and symptoms.
Signs of magnesium deficiency
Modern living, poor dietary and lifestyle choices, food processing techniques, soil mineral depletion and chronic stress all pose a risk to our magnesium levels and to our overall health.
Lifestyle factors such as excess alcohol, coffee, fizzy drink and salt consumption, and health factors such as diarrhoea and inflammatory bowel diseases, heavy periods, excessive sweating and even some medications such as antibiotics, antacids, antihistamines and blood pressure drugs can result in depletion of our magnesium stores. Not only do we consume less magnesium from the foods we eat than our ancestors probably did, but many of us are also having a hard time actually absorbing it once we’ve consumed it.
Signs and symptoms of a magnesium deficiency range from cramps, tingling, twitches, low mood, anxiety, trouble falling asleep, chocolate cravings and headaches, to osteoporosis, migraines, gut issues, hypertension, abnormal heart rhythms, and even stroke and cardiovascular disease.
Magnesium balance in the body is very closely controlled by the kidneys, which are the organs responsible for filtering excess magnesium into the urine for excretion, or filtering it back into the blood and tissues when levels are low.
The NHS recommended daily allowance (RDA) for magnesium is 270mg for women and 300mg for men.
Where do we get magnesium from?
We always recommend you try to meet your nutritional needs via your diet wherever possible. This means limiting processed and refined foods, alcohol, caffeine and salt, and incorporating plenty of natural food sources of magnesium, such as:
- Nuts, like cashews, almonds, brazil nuts, walnuts and pecans
- Whole grains, like rye, brown rice, millet, barley and buckwheat, wheat bran and wheat germ
- Green leafy vegetables, such as spinach, collard greens and parsley
- Sea vegetables, such as kelp and dulse
- Legumes, like tofu, soy beans, kidney beans and peanuts
- Avocado, figs, dates, garlic, pumpkin seeds and chia seeds
- Cacao beans – yes, that means dark chocolate and raw cacao powder!
Unfortunately, despite our best efforts the standard western diet leads many of us to fall short of our daily RDA of magnesium, which is where magnesium supplementation can be very useful.
It’s important to note all magnesium supplements are not created equal in terms of quality, price, application or bioavailability. In fact, magnesium supplementation can be a bit of a minefield. That’s
where we come in, with help and guidance whenever you need it.
Magnesium for relaxation and deep sleep
Magnesium is a nature’s muscle relaxant. It counteracts calcium, which is the main mineral involved in muscle contraction and causes your muscles to relax.
As well as providing this physical relaxation, magnesium also aids in mental relaxation; easing anxiety and depression and supporting a healthy stress response. A 2015 study published in the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine revealed a link between magnesium supplementation and reduced depression, the effect of which was even higher in younger adults. Magnesium was also found to ease postpartum depression and mood disorders associated with chronic fatigue.
As we know, when we relax better, we sleep better. According to recent research, magnesium may play a role in our circadian rhythm; the internal clock that causes us to feel more awake in the mornings and sleepy when the sun goes down, setting us up for deep, restorative sleep. This is because magnesium is involved in the production of the ‘happy hormone’ serotonin; a neurotransmitter which is converted to the sleep hormone melatonin when light levels fall. Magnesium also regulates Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid (GABA), which is another important neurotransmitter, responsible for slowing the communication between your brain and nervous system and allowing you to power down for the night.
There are several different options when it comes to supplementing magnesium for sleep and relaxation:
VitalOrganico liposomal magnesium
contains a highly absorbable form of magnesium citrate, known to play a crucial role in mood and sleep regulation, as well as mental and muscle relaxation.
Magnesium citrate can also be used to increase bowel regularity - a useful bonus for many people, although there is a chance that it may cause diarrhoea in high doses. This side effect can be avoided by taking a smaller dose, or by choosing one of the alternative options below.
VitalOrganico magnesium glycinate
powder contains glycine, another sleep-inducing amino acid, which makes it perfectly placed for achieving better relaxation and deeper sleep. It can be easily mixed in with a glass of water or juice, taken with your evening meal or 1-2 hours before going to bed.
is a spray supplement that can be used every day, either on its own for those with digestive issues or sensitivities or alongside an oral magnesium supplement if desired.
Made with purified water and using ancient magnesium seabeds, it is absorbed through the skin and can be sprayed all over the body. It is great for avoiding muscle cramps after a workout when used locally.
baths can ease sore muscles and relax your mind. Simply add 1-2 mugs of Epsom salt to a warm bath, add a few drops of your favourite essential oil and soak your stresses away for at least
20 minutes. - Epsom salt in minor doses can also be ingested ( please check the product descriptions before assuming you can ingest it )
Some drugs interact poorly with magnesium, so please check with your doctor before beginning a supplemental regime, especially if you are taking medications or having any kidney disease.