Supplements - some people love them, other people see them as a waste of money. Well this post is for both groups, and hopefully I can convince the 'supplement haters' that magnesium, with so many health benefits, is one mineral you may want to consider supplementing with.
Magnesium - a mineral with the symbol Mg, is the 4th most common element in the earth. Highly reactive in its natural state, it has many uses in manufacturing and for use by the human body. The list of magnesiums health benefits include:
The ratio between calcium and magnesium is very important. A lot of people supplement with calcium (or ensure they consume foods that are high in calcium), but do not think about their magnesium intake. Too much calcium and not enough magnesium can lead to all sorts of problems, including regular muscle spasms or twitches. Also, it needs to be reminded that the heart is a muscle, and there is actually a lot of magnesium within the heart. An unbalanced magnesium/calcium balance can lead to improper heart beats and even heart attacks.
Magnesium deficiency is the second most common deficiency behind Vitamin D in the developed world. Deficiency is very common and can be dangerous. Symptoms of magnesium deficiency include:
Magnesium is found in foods such as beans, avocados, nuts & seeds (almonds, sunflower and pumpkin seeds). Seaweed, coffee and chocolate are also great sources of magnesium.
The problem is that we are not consuming enough magnesium from our diet. About half of americans consume less than 250mg per day from food, whereas 100 years ago we would be consuming about 500mg a day from a typical diet. Magnesium intake of 400mg per day or more is generally recommended to address magnesium deficiency (there are little risks of magnesium toxicity - the main problem with high dose magnesium supplementation is diarrhoea - hence why magnesium is often used as a natural laxative!)
Why are we consuming less in our diet today? The main reason is due to modern farming techniques that have depleted the minerals in our soil, leading to less mineral dense produce. If you are consuming a lot of vegetables from organic vegetables grown in soils treated with natural mineral fertilisers, you may be achieving enough magnesium in your diet.
For more on the how our nutrient levels have changed over the years take a read of this article.
There are two common ways to supplement with magnesium - orally or topically. Oral supplementation has its downsides in that too much magnesium can lead to diarrhea, and cheaper magnesium supplements may not be absorbed well.
Topically is generally a better way to increase your magnesium intake. The skin acts like the bodies second mouth - it will absorb minerals (and chemicals for that matter) direct into the body - bypassing the stomach. You can use Magnesium Oil for this (from magnesium chloride), or even take regular (1-2x a week) epsom salt baths.
I recommend supplementing with 200mg of magnesium per day, again this can be orally, or topically.
If you decide to supplement orally, I personally use & recommend magnesium citrate (I use Thorne Magnesium Citrate), however glycinate or threonate forms are also effective. 200mg per day taken before bed is best.
If you decide to bypass the stomach, find a good quality magnesium oil such as Ancient Minerals or White Egret. You want about 10-15 sprays to apply 200mg to your body. Rub this on your torso or legs, or on any areas that may be sore from training. Note - there is often a slight tingly/itching sensation, this is perfectly normal and usually stops after a few applications. Also I find this works great as a deodorant.
So there you have it, if you suffer from any of those magnesium deficiency symptoms, or seek optimal health & performance, try supplementing to experience first hand the benefits of magnesium. I'd love to hear your feedback, did you notice a difference after supplementing with magnesium? If you have any questions or comments feel free to post below. If you'd like more info on this topic, I recommend the following book - The Magnesium Miracle.
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