Diet and exercise are about much more than fetching six pack abs. When we pay attention to the needs of our bodies, supplying everything they need for optimal performance, the difference in the way we feel is immense. When we are healthy and fit, we feel better about ourselves, have improved mood and cognition, and have richer, more meaningful lives.
The importance of an active lifestyle can’t be stressed enough, along with a diet heavy on vegetables and light on fried foods and sugars. But this is just common knowledge, yes?
What a lot of people (even health nuts) don’t take into account, is the stunning percentage of people in the Western world who have gaping deficiencies in particular vitamins and minerals. A simple multivitamin may help, but if you are deficient in a specific mineral, targeted supplementation is superior.
Among these widespread deficiencies, magnesium is among the most common. Researchers estimated that nearly 70% of adults in the US are deficient in Magnesium. Despite the relative comfort and luxury western countries have achieved, shifts in the types of foods we eat, depletion in our farmland’s soil, and a more stressful lifestyle have all contributed to this staggering statistic.
Simply put, if you are one of the many people not getting enough magnesium, fixing this nutritional problem will improve your quality of life. Let’s look at five surprising ways your overall well-being might be improved by magnesium supplementation.
Magnesium helps you get deeper, more restful sleep
Sleep is right up there with food and water as an essential factor for your survival, and yet our fast paced modern lives have downplayed the importance of sleep in favor of productivity. Solid, deep slumber (or as Shakespeare called it, “Nature’s soft nurse”) is the foundation for a good quality of life. Magnesium is anecdotally said to cause feelings of relaxation, and scientifically proven to help some people get better quality sleep.1
Many of the drugs prescribed for insomnia have harmful side effects, leaving the patient groggy and addicted. Gentle magnesium, however, is a natural element that our bodies need to regulate hundreds of natural processes.
Next time you find yourself watching infomercials at 3am, see if a little dose of magnesium won’t help.
Magnesium may decrease your stress and anxiety
Robust studies have shown magnesium’s ability to lower blood pressure in patients suffering from a deficienty.2 Anecdotally, this is because it is said to have strong anxiolytic properties, and has a soothing effect on people undergoing panic attacks and spells of severe anxiety.
We all face situations that are stressful, and most simply can’t be avoided. This is another situation where some doctors would prescribe drugs that may seriously sap the color right out of life, dulling your emotions and creating a nasty habit that lasts after the problem has gone away. Before trying drugs, dose a bit of magnesium and spend a few minutes in mediation to deal with stress.
Magnesium can help you focus
There is a new fad on the internet of people who study and experiment with supplements known as “nootropics”. A “noot” (from neural, or brain related) is a substance that is said to increase cognition, focus, and motivation in a patient. Magnesium has long been a favorite of the nootropic community who say that it can help to enter a Zen like state of focus and attention. There is science to back them up as well: early studies have shown magnesium supplementation shows promise in relieving symptoms of ADHD in children.3
Magnesium may improve your cardio workouts
It is thought that athletes burn through more magnesium than your average sedentary citizen. Therefore, it follows that active types are even more likely to have a deficiency if they aren’t already supplementing. Research has shown that healthy people performed better at a triathlon after magnesium supplementation.4 This all indicates that magnesium is used by the body when dealing with physical stress, and may help you to run further and faster than you would with a deficiency.
Magnesium may brighten your mood
Despite common belief to the contrary, our brains are organs just like our livers, kidneys or hearts, and likewise our minds operate on the same basic principles. When these organs are fully furnished with the amino-acids and nutrition they need, they function much better. While a sad song or a lover’s spat may give you the blues, long term depression is usually caused by an imbalance in brain chemicals. Early studies have shown a marked improvement in depressed elderly patience when given magnesium supplementation.5 Further indication that good old Mg might be just the thing you need to break out of a funk.
- Held K,et al Oral Mg(2+) supplementation reverses age-related neuroendocrine and sleep EEG changes in humans. Pharmacopsychiatry. (2002)
- Hatzistavri LS, et al Oral magnesium supplementation reduces ambulatory blood pressure in patients with mild hypertension. Am J Hypertens. (2009)Fd
- Kozielec T, Starobrat-Hermelin B Assessment of magnesium levels in children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Magnes Res. (1997)
- Golf SW, Bender S, Grüttner J On the significance of magnesium in extreme physical stress. Cardiovasc Drugs Ther. (1998)
- Barragán-Rodríguez L, Rodríguez-Morán M, Guerrero-Romero F Efficacy and safety of oral magnesium supplementation in the treatment of depression in the elderly with type 2 diabetes: a randomized, equivalent trial.Magnes Res. (2008)