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  • Laren Rusin

Magnesium-the body's workhorse!

Magnesium is an essential mineral in over 300 processes in the body, and is involved in every system! If there was a “wonder mineral”, this might be one of them… and while it’s the fourth-most plentiful mineral in the body, most of us are deficient.

Magnesium is a mineral that helps with energy production, blood sugar regulation, muscle strength and flexibility, sleep and stress management, and bone strength. regulates inflammation, an underlying process that drives many chronic diseases, as well as acute injury or workout inflammation. It’s also helpful in boosting immune function, and cardiac heath through its ability to relax (it acts as a natural calcium channel blocker to help muscles, including cardiac muscle, relax). Magnesium deficiency is highly correlated with migraines as well!

Magnesium is an electrolyte that you need to replenish when dehydrated, especially in this summer weather. Deficiency in magnesium can cause cramping (also look to potassium here), again through that calcium channel blocking mechanism.

Much of the body’s energy production comes from ATP (think the citric acid cycle, for my biology friends out there), and magnesium is needed for an essential step in that cycle.

It is also necessary for the production of insulin-like growth factor, which is important for muscle growth, and muscle strength.

It helps regulate blood sugar by moving sugar out of the blood and into the cells for storage.

Magnesium also helps balance and control stress hormones and is needed for the production of serotonin (a neurotransmitter that helps with relaxation, elevating mood, and sleep). Regarding sleep, magnesium is also used in regulating melatonin, a hormone that helps with sleep and our sleep/wake cycle.

What food contain magnesium? Dark leafy greens (that should be a part of every daily diet), pumpkin seeds, flax seeds, nuts such as almonds, cashews, walnuts, pecans. Also brown rice, avocado, beans, edamame, cacao (yay chocolate-but stick with the 72% or darker), and seaweed!

Diets higher in magnesium have been correlated with less stress, depression, and anxiety and fewer chronic conditions such as heart disease and diabetes.

That being said, it’s hard for most people to get enough magnesium through diet. If you were to supplement, avoid magnesium oxide unless you’re looking purely for a stool softener-that laxative effect is due to the fact that very little of that form of magnesium is absorbed. Depending on your sleep needs, I’d stick with magnesium glycinate or citrate. Magnesium can also be absorbed topically (with less potential GI distress) either through Epsom salt baths, or topical gels.

Questions? Feel free to reach out!

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