By guest blogger, holistic nutritionist and yoga teacher, Raj Barker
We’re always hearing frequent cheers for the likes of vitamin C, iron and zinc but in my opinion, magnesium is a cut above all these other vitamin and mineral players and one of the most under-valued in the human body.
It is responsible for over 300 biochemical reactions and plays a huge role in building strong bones, sustaining a healthy immune system, maintaining heart rhythm and normal nerve and muscle function to name a few.
Being a mineral that can often be poorly absorbed and easily lost from the body, it is necessary to up our intake of magnesium-rich foods wherever possible to properly keep our levels in check. If you suffer from muscle cramps or twitching, anxiety, insomnia, migraines or frequent headaches, kidney stones, PMS, constipation, reflux, high blood pressure or diabetes, chances are you may not be getting enough of this amazing mineral. The great news though is magnesium deficiency is one of the simplest things to reverse. Here’s how…
Dodge magnesium-sapping substances like:
+ excess coffee (stick to just one regular cup each day)
+ excess alcohol
+ refined salt
+ soft drinks (phosphoric acid is to blame here)
Eat a diet of magnesium-rich foods such as:
+ Dark leafy greens like silverbeet, kale, collard greens, and English spinach. These gems a great for providing a host of essential vitamins and minerals including magnesium and are low in calories. Double points for the leafy greens!
+ Pumpkin seeds are a powerhouse of magnesium. Just half a cup includes almost 100 per cent of your recommended daily intake. Not your fave? Try cashews, sunflower seeds, pecans, flaxseeds or Brazil nuts instead – all provide a potent magnesium punch.
+ Avocados not only provide a hit of essential healthy fats and vitamins, but one avocado a day will contribute to over 15 per cent of your daily recommended magnesium intake. Add them to your salads and smoothies as often as you can.
+ Dark chocolate. Gone are the days when chocolate was considered bad for you. One square of this decadently rich bomb of antioxidants not only provides 24 per cent of the recommended daily intake of magnesium but also contributes to heart health, improved circulation and can help lower blood pressure. The higher cacao content the better so shoot for one with 60 per cent or more cacao.
+ Bananas are no longer just famous for providing a swift hit of potassium (essential for bone strength and heart health) but are also relatively high in magnesium. An average sized banana contains 32 milligrams of magnesium as well loads of fibre and vitamin C. Figs and berries are not too far behind if bananas are not your thing.
Tame the stress beast
Ongoing stress wreaks havoc in more ways that one on the body and depleting your body’s magnesium levels is surely one of them. What happens? You’re in the firing line for a plethora of nasty symptoms and potential diseases. Committing to a relaxation technique that you can refer to on a daily basis is ideal, whether that means a regular yoga class, meditation session or interpretive dance when the kitchen’s empty at work – the choice is all yours. A study that came out of Kosovo during a period of war monitored the large loss of magnesium through urine samples of those under war stress.
Consider taking a supplement
As often as I can, I try to live by the theory of ‘food as medicine’, however with depleted quality of soils and today’s frantic lifestyle in our western culture this is not always a perfect option for everyone. There is an abundance of good quality magnesium supplements available on the market. The most absorbable forms available are magnesium citrate, aspartate, taurate, glycinate and fumerate. Taking magnesium carbonate, sulfate, gluconate and oxide are poorly absorbable and can result in stomach upset and diarrhea so be sure to read the label and clarify with a health professional before you hand over your cash.
Treat yourself to an Epsom Salt bath
One of the easiest (and most pleasant) ways to absorb magnesium is through the skin via a bath in Epsom Salts, which translate to magnesium sulfate in the body. This method promotes immediate muscle relaxation, plus a bath naturally aids in stress relief. What a good excuse to light some candles and fire up some classic chill-out tunes. Tonight’s plans have suddenly changed…