What if your chocolate cravings could be quelled without a brownie? And what if constipation, headaches, or even anxiety had a surprisingly easy fix—no drugs required?
The potential solution: magnesium, an essential mineral that most of us aren’t consuming enough of.
Why Do So Many People Have Magnesium Deficiency?
Magnesium is a mineral that plays a role in over 300 enzymatic reactions in your body.
“In general, people don’t consume enough vegetables, especially green leafy ones—some of the best sources of magnesium—and consume too many processed and refined grains, which are stripped of minerals,” says nutritionist Katie Shields, R.D.
“What’s more, industrial agricultural and water purification practices deplete our soil and water of naturally occurring magnesium,” she says.
Symptoms Of Magnesium Deficiency
Because the mineral plays a role in so many reactions in your body, not getting enough magnesium can wreak havoc.
Magnesium aids in muscle relaxation and blood flow, so having a deficiency can cause everything from tension headaches to muscle fatigue to constipation, says Shields.
The mineral also plays a role in blood sugar regulation and has a calming effect on your nervous system, so a deficiency often triggers cravings for sugar and can contribute to anxiety and poor sleep.
How to Get More Magnesium
While magnesium may not be a cure-all for every one of your aches, pains, and mystery ailments, making a point to hit your daily quota with the right foods helps ensure that your body has what it needs to function optimally. Men should about get about 400 to 420 milligrams (mg) of magnesium a day.
In general, foods that are high in fibre are good sources, says Shields: Think leafy vegetables such as kale, Swiss chard, and seaweed.
Other good sources include broccoli, squash, nuts (particularly almonds), seeds, legumes (especially edamame and black beans), and even raw cacao powder. (Here’s a handy cheat sheet for getting your daily dose of magnesium from food.)
Another way to get a dose of magnesium: Soak in a tub with Epsom salts, which are high in magnesium sulfate. Run a hot bath, add a cup of Epsom salts, and soak for 20 to 30 minutes two or three times per week.
No tub? Even soaking your feet will do the trick, says Shields.
Should You Take a Magnesium Supplement?
“Obtaining nutrients from whole food sources is always preferable, but it can be difficult to get enough magnesium through food alone,” says Shields. “So I do recommend magnesium supplements.”
How much? Magnesium supplements are likely safe for most adults when taken in low doses (100 to 300 mg/day).
Shields typically recommends taking magnesium glycinate, as this form is readily absorbed in your gastrointestinal tract, and dividing your intake throughout the day by taking a 100 mg supplement up to three times a day.
If you take magnesium in excess, you might experience loose stools, nausea, or vomiting.
Talk to your doctor or a registered dietitian who can assess your diet and other medications or supplements you may be taking for potential interactions or adverse effects.
By Stephanie Eckelkamp for Prevention, this article was published by our partners at Men’s Health.