Do you have excess tension, trouble sleeping, muscle pain, or fatigue? The culprit could be magnesium deficiency.
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Magnesium deficiency is one of the most common deficiencies in the world, but it is difficult to determine from a standard blood test because only 1% of the magnesium in your body is in your blood. Because of soil depletion, stress, junk food, and malabsorption of nutrients, many people in today’s world are low in this vital mineral. According to this source, approximately 68-80% of people in the U.S. are deficient.
Personally, I have experienced benefit from taking extra magnesium during stressful times and illness. Now, I use it most days to keep my levels up.
According to Dr. Josh Axe, “Not only does magnesium help regulate calcium, potassium and sodium, but it’s essential for cellular health and a critical component of over 300 biochemical functions in the body.” Carolyn Dean, M.D, actually says that it even protects against threats such as heart disease, stroke, osteoporosis, diabetes, depression, arthritis, and asthma!
Typical symptoms of deficiency include:
- Muscle pain
- Restless legs
- Hormone imbalance
- High blood pressure
You are especially at risk if you are experiencing high stress levels or poor diet.
In addition, magnesium helps regulate the absorption of other nutrients in the body. According to Carolyn Dean, M.D., author of The Magnesium Miracle:
Magnesium is intimately involved in potassium transport. Magnesium and potassium depletion cause similar damaging effects on the heart. Furthermore, it’s impossible to overcome potassium deficiency without replacing magnesium. That’s why hospitals seem to have such a difficult time finding the right electrolyte balance of sodium, potassium, calcium, and chloride, because they ignore magnesium.
Truly, this “miracle mineral” is critical for the entire body. It helps with blood pressure, heart function, bone and muscle health, and energy transport (source). Most people today can benefit from taking a magnesium supplement of some sort. It is recommended that men consume 400-420mg of magnesium and women consume 310-320mg daily (source). It’s one of the best things to add into your self-care regime.
That’s why I’ve compiled the ultimate guide to magnesium to help you find the best ways to incorporate this amazing mineral into your life. I’ve tried and tested most of these foods and products, and gone through trial and error to find the best foods and products for you.
Food Sources of Magnesium
The first and best way to increase your magnesium levels is through eating healthy foods. It’s impossible to out-supplement a poor diet. Here’s a list of foods with the highest amounts:
- Leafy greens
- Nuts and seeds
- Beans and Legumes
- Whole grains
- Dark chocolate
Here are a few delicious, magnesium-rich recipes to try:
- This Energizing Green Smoothie will ensure you get plenty of leafy greens.
- These Toasted Pumpkin Seeds have touch of cinnamon, sugar, lemon and other spices.
- Who knew that Chocolate Hummus could be so delicious and incorporate both chocolate and beans?
- Overnight Oats with Peanut Butter, Chocolate Chips, and Coconut include three different magnesium sources for the win.
- This Avocado Cream is a lighter, smoother version of the classic guacamole.
- Freezer friendly Roasted Vegetable Burritos with Black Beans and Rice are the perfect weeknight meal.
- The Best Easy Homemade Greek (or regular) Yogurt is perfect for breakfast or a snack.
- Homemade Healthy Banana Bread is the most delicious way to get rid of those overripe bananas.
Incorporating several of these foods into your daily diet will vastly improve your magnesium levels and help you relax. Try one of these recipes this week.
If you have any digestive or malabsorption issues, or you want to increase your levels faster, transdermal magnesium (absorbed through the skin and into the bloodstream) is a great addition to a magnesium-rich diet. It may even be a better option and better absorbed than supplements. There are several options for this.
Doesn’t a trip to the beach deeply relax you? One of the reasons for this is the high magnesium content of salt water. It is the third largest element in the ocean. No wonder we all feel so good when we go to the beach! But if you don’t live near the coast, epsom salt baths are the next best thing.
This is my personal favorite way of adding more magnesium into my system, plus it’s very inexpensive. Epsom salts also provide sulfur, which many people are deficient in as well (source). So simple and relaxing; epsom salt baths are something everyone can add to their nightly routine and are also great for detoxifying.
Dr. Teal’s Epsom Salt is one of my favorite kinds to use, especially the essential oil infused blends. But any epsom salt from the drugstore will work just as well. I love adding lavender essential oil to the bath as well. Add about 1/2 cup of salt for every 50 pounds of body weight. Or, try this amazing epsom salt bath bombs recipe – too cool! Soak for approximately 20 minutes for the maximum benefit.
My boys also love taking epsom salt baths. They always ask for it and sink into the water with a contented “Ahhhh!” Another great way to incorporate this is to do an epsom salt foot soak to unwind at the end of a long day.
I haven’t personally tried magnesium flakes, but they can be added to the bath just like epsom salts (although they are a bit more pricey). The verdict is still out, but according to this article, flakes actually absorb into the system better than epsom salts. They also do double duty if you are interested in making your own magnesium products (more on that below). Flakes are used in many DIY magnesium product recipes. Wellness Mama has a really cool magnesium bath recipe with vanilla extract and lavender… doesn’t that sound just divine?
Gel or Lotion
Another great option is magnesium gel or lotion. However, these products are definitely not all created equal. Unfortunately, I find the gel to makes my skin very itchy and uncomfortable, which is why I HIGHLY recommend the following product:
Life-Flo Magnesium lotion. This stuff is seriously amazing! The first time I tried it, I expected to have the same itchy skin sensation as I did with the gel. Instead, my skin felt super soft with no itchiness whatsoever. Also, it smells like a vanilla cupcake. What could be better than that? I like rubbing it on my abdomen and legs to relax me before bedtime. This bottle lasts me a pretty long time and is quite affordable as well.
DIY Magnesium Products
Another option is to create your own magnesium products (lotions, gels, or sprays). This is definitely a cheaper option, and if you enjoy making DIY recipes, give it a go! Here are a few awesome recipes to try:
Homemade Sleepytime Spray with magnesium + lavender by Butter Nutrition includes lavender essential oil also to help you relax and sleep deeply.
DIY Whipped Magnesium Lotion with coconut oil by Tiffany at Don’t Waste the Crumbs will nourish your skin while soothing your system.
Magnesium Oil Spray by Wellness Mama only uses two ingredients and is super easy.
Now you may be wondering, “Should I take a supplement?” The short answer (unless you’re eating a perfect diet and have low stress levels) is that yes, you should. Approximately 80 percent of people have low levels of magnesium, so the chances are that you’re probably deficient according to Dr. Josh Axe.
Note: As with any supplement, ask your doctor before use. Although they are probably safe for most adults at doses under 350 mg/day, too much magnesium can have adverse affects in some people (source).
My advice would be that if you’re having any of the symptoms listed above, asking your doctor about a supplement is a good idea. Also, your body may give you an undeniable clue if you’re getting too much magnesium. (Hint: your digestion may be off and you’ll be running to the bathroom more frequently.)
There are several types of magnesium supplements, one of the most popular being magnesium citrate. Many people rave about a product called Natural Calm, and I wanted to like it. However, after trying it several times, it affected my digestion too much and I found a better alternative. But if you have any issues with constipation, this would be a great supplement to try.
I’ve had a really great success taking the brand Doctor’s Best Chelated Magnesium every night before bed. It’s also super affordable, only $13 for 240 tablets, so it’s a win-win! It helps me relax and go to sleep, and it does not bother my stomach whatsoever.
Now that you’ve got all the best recommendations for increasing your magnesium intake, take action. Eat more magnesium-rich foods, try an epsom soak or magnesium lotion, and if necessary, a supplement also. You should feel more balanced and relaxed in no time.
Further Reading: The Magnesium Miracle by Carolyn Dean, M.D.
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Do you have any magnesium products to recommend? If you found this post helpful, I’d be super grateful if you’d share it.