The magnificent mineral you don’t get enough of

In mid-winter, following the holiday season, concerns set in about staying fit, getting enough sleep, and keeping up your mood. It turns out, a single, simple mineral micronutrient covers all these bases and many more: magnesium.

Indeed, magnesium is involved with so many aspects of human health. But let’s start with your muscles…

Magnesium for muscles

Magnesium is very similar to calcium in its energetic and molecular properties. Indeed, your body needs both to build strong muscles and strong bones.

In particular, your muscles need magnesium for flexibility. It actually helps prevent injury by loosening tight muscles.

Plus, low magnesium means muscles can’t relax, contributing to tension and cramping. Low magnesium can also result in a build-up of lactic acid in the muscles, causing pain and tightness following physical activity.

Long-term, your body needs magnesium to produce the insulin-like growth hormone, which is essential for muscle growth and strength.

Keep energy up with magnesium

Every cell in your body depends on magnesium for energy. It all starts in the mitochondria, the cells’ basic energy factories.

Mitochondria “burn” glucose to produce energy — which the chemical “battery” ATP then stores. And ATP production depends on magnesium.

(As a “byproduct” of this process, cells actually produce water for cellular hydration. In fact, most of the water in the cells comes from this essential source inside the cells. Most hydration “experts” who hawk sports drinks and other performance products on the circuit miss — or omit — this important point.)

You also need electrolytes, such as magnesium and potassium, for hydration.

Feel better and sleep better with more magnesium

Magnesium also helps balance and regulate the body’s hormones and neurochemicals associated with mood, sleep and stress. Specifically, the mineral helps the production of serotonin. Of course, serotonin, in turn, helps the brain and nervous system relax and improve mood.

Magnesium also helps regulate the hormone melatonin, which you need, along with serotonin, for good sleep.

The list goes on …

Magnesium helps maintain heart health and prevent strokes. It helps regulate blood sugar (to prevent diabetes), boosts immunity, prevents chronic inflammation, promotes healthy GI function, prevents constipation, and helps maintain a proper pH or acid-base balance in the body. Magnesium can also help prevent and treat migraine headache as well as pre-menstrual syndrome.

Doctors even use magnesium as an emergency treatment for asthma, heart conditions, and pre-eclampsia of pregnancy, as well as other life-threatening conditions.

But several factors may contribute to magnesium depletion in the body, including antibiotic drugs and other medications, excessive salt intake, extreme and prolonged stress, sweating (from overexertion), and sodas containing phosphoric acid. Caffeine and excess alcohol can also deplete magnesium stores.

Moderation remains key

To keep your magnesium levels up, avoid excessive exercise and excessive salt intake. You should also balance the benefits of coffee (three to four cups per day) and moderate alcohol (one or two drinks per evening) intake against their depletion of magnesium.

No matter what, make sure you get enough magnesium every day. Great food sources include: avocado, beans, brown rice, cacao, green leafy vegetables, seaweed, pumpkin seeds, and nuts such as almonds, cashews, pecans, and walnuts — not to mention fish and meats.

Besides dietary intake, magnesium is a prominent electrolyte in seawater. So —when you swim or soak in salt water, you can actually absorb magnesium.

Taking a bath with Epsom salts or magnesium salts also helps get more magnesium into your body. And it works wonders for relaxation and stress reduction.

As a final recommendation, make sure your dietary supplements contain magnesium. Your bone and joint supplement should include a healthy dose of magnesium for bone and cartilage health and strength. And make sure you take a least 400 mg per day in a dietary supplement.