13 December 2016 / Nutrition

The minutiae of magnesium

All of a sudden, especially in fitness circles, we're hearing a lot about magnesium. People are now supplementing their bodies — but often they don't know exactly why. Here is the low-down on magnesium; what is is, and why some of us may need to add more to our diets.

 

What is magnesium?

Magnesium is largely abundant in the body, with a lot being stored in our bones. However, our bodies cannot actually produce it, hence why we must obtain this mineral through our diets, or supplements.

Magnesium plays a part in so many systems in the body. It helps to regulate muscle and nerve function, alongside helping out our immune system and cardiovascular health. It also can help out our energy levels, reduce stress and lessen muscle cramping, particularly after exercise.

How do we get more in?

First and foremost, we must aim to obtain magnesium through our diet with magnesium-rich foods. Eating whole foods is key, but oral supplements can function like the icing on the cake for that extra boost in times of need or when stores in the body may be low.

A good rule of thumb to increase your magnesium intake, is to aim to eat fibrous foods. Fibrous foods include leafy greens, green vegetables, and legumes including beans, peas, soybeans, nuts and whole-grain cereals.

The benefits of magnesium

Increasing your magnesium intake can be useful if you suffer from a restless sleep, stress, muscle cramping, migraines, and also PMT.

Magnesium helps our muscle to contract and relax, in turn reducing muscle cramps and spasms. In terms of magnesium and exercise, we can lose magnesium through excessive sweating, which can lead to cramping and spasming of muscles. Replacing what is lost will regulate our muscle function, aid recovery post-exercise and help prevent those cramps! The same goes for heavy menstruation. Through menstruation, magnesium gets lost from the body which can cause further cramps. So, if you're a woman, good levels of magnesium can be lifesaving! 

Magnesium is fantastic for relaxation and regulating the nervous system. This can decrease stress levels and can also help you achieve a deep, undisturbed sleep. If a sound sleep occurs, then energy levels the following day will be higher. 

 

If you think you may be lacking in magnesium, just remember to initially introduce more magnesium-rich foods into your diet. From this point, if you think you may benefit from a magnesium supplement, go and have a chat to your local healthcare professional.