Guest article from porcheberryauthor.com
When it comes to self care we have all been told or heard or read somewhere about meditating, exercising, and other generic advice. If you’re like me then you’ve felt irritated by the lack of practical information that can be applied in our overly busy lives.
I, however, am always pragmatic in my approach and have a strong desire for concrete information. This does not negate the value of other advice in any way. Today I wanted to go over magnesium – we all know that we need it, but most think it’s only for your bones. Keep reading and you’ll quickly realise why it’s essential to our physical and mental health.
- Bones. Let’s get the usual stuff out of the way first. Magnesium is an essential part of our bones and teeth. Without it they become weak and prone to breakage. One of the greatest strengths in how our bones function is in the combination of materials that make them. Collagen provides the flexible and stretching properties that reduce fractures while minerals provide the rigidity required to hold us upright. If you read the link just above you probably noticed that it didn’t mention magnesium. To quote Dr. Carolyn Dean: “…it’s not well known that magnesium is necessary to convert vitamin D into its active form so that it can turn on calcium absorption.” Everything in the body is interconnected.
- Neurological function. Every single time a nerve fires there is a rapid exchange of minerals that occurs, and magnesium is one that is used. Every thought, physical sensation, heartbeat – it all uses magnesium in addition to other minerals. An article published in JAMA internal medicine from the early 1990’s found that there is a critical level of magnesium deficiency that will create problems. According to the article, it was observed that “…prolonged and the skeletal depletion of Mg extreme, serious neurologic symptoms, including seizures, coma, and death, may occur.” Obviously that is on the more extreme end, but they did speculate on the similarity between the symptoms and demyelinating diseases, so it may be worth noting for some people.
- Digestion. A lack of magnesium can show up as constipation. Current research makes a connection between mental state and digestive function, also known as the “gut brain axis”. The writing on this axis focuses on the microbiota, aka the germs in your gut, and how they affect your mental state. When bowel movements change, like in cases of constipation, the composition of the bacteria also changes.
- Reducing inflammation. Chronic inflammation is linked to a multitude of physical and mental health complications, both long term and short term. I was trying to avoid using too many highly technical studies to make this an easy read. However, on this particular point I have found that I need to reference a study published in 2018 on the relationship between magnesium deficiency and inflammation. Right at the beginning of the article they state, “Animal studies have shown that magnesium deficiency induces an inflammatory response that results in leukocyte and macrophage activation, release of inflammatory cytokines and acute-phase proteins, and excessive production of free radicals.” Translation: lack of magnesium activates the inflammatory response in a negative way.
- Better sleep. We all know that not getting enough sleep is the worst. However, most of us really don’t know just how bad it is for our long and short term health. Current research shows that over time it increases risk of neurodegenerative diseases like dementia in old age, increased risk of developing some types of cancer, heart disease, and you’re more likely to get that seasonal flu going around. Business Insider did a lengthy article just on sleep deprivation. To quote Dr. Michael Breus: “Better sleep. Insomnia is a common symptom of magnesium deficiency. People with low magnesium often experience restless sleep, waking frequently during the night. Maintaining healthy magnesium levels often leads to deeper, more sound sleep. Magnesium plays a role in supporting deep, restorative sleep by maintaining healthy levels of GABA, a neurotransmitter that promotes sleep. Research indicates supplemental magnesium can improve sleep quality, especially in people with poor sleep. Magnesium can also help insomnia that’s linked to the sleep disorder restless-leg syndrome.”
Getting enough magnesium in our diets is challenging, partly because most of us don’t eat enough leafy greens. Fun fact: magnesium is at the center of the chlorophyll molecule.
Modern farming techniques make this worse by leaving our soils depleted of essential nutrients. Research confirms that our food is less nutritious than it was 50 or 60 years ago. In addition, the amount of carbohydrates and refined sugar in our diets depletes us further. It takes six magnesium molecules to process one sugar molecule. When your body is lacking what it needs, your mind follows. Coping with daily stresses can become impossible simply because your body can’t even keep up. Getting a reputable supplement can have a wonderful effect in one simple step every day.
**To get full access to any studies, simply input the URL to sci-hub or use the “unpaywall” extension for Chrome browsers.
Photo via Pixabay