A while back I shared the top 5 supplements for women here on the blog. One of them was magnesium and while I put it on the top 5 list, I didn’t explain a lot about it. But after regularly taking it myself for about 6 months now, I had to share all the reasons why you need to take magnesium too!
I used to be a runner. I would run anywhere from 20-25 miles per week and participate in 5K’s, 10K’s, and shorter fun runs like the Mud Run. Somewhere in my running days, I injured my hamstring which lead to a weird gait, which led to shin and ankle problems. Everything hurt when I tried to run even short distances so I eventually quit and that’s when I found CrossFit. The hamstring issue got better, but a psoas injury took its place for a loooonnnnngggg time. I went to physical therapy, Muscle Activation Therapy (MAT), and finally Active Release Therapy (ART) trying to get my leg better. It was in ART that the guy mentioned magnesium and its benefits to muscle and body wellness and to being supple and more limber.
I had heard this before but had dismissed it, but this time I went home and did some research.
Magnesium is one of six major minerals that our bodies need and use everyday. It’s involved in heart health, brain health, bone health and teeth health, insulin sensitivity, and more than 300 microscopic, molelcular functions in the body. However, it’s estimated that 75% of us don’t have enough magnesium in our bodies and don’t get enough of it in our diets. Here’s a list of symptoms you might have with a magnesium deficiency from Dr. Mark Hyman:
Muscle cramps or twitches
Sensitivity to loud noises
High blood pressure
Irritable bowel syndrome
This seems like almost everything we experience is linked to Magnesium in some way! The lack of magnesium in our body can cause really mild symptoms such as leg cramps, all the way to heart palpitations and more. Dr. Hyman refers to Magnesium as the relaxation mineral and says that “anything that is tight, irritable, crampy, and stiff — whether it is a body part or an even a mood — is a sign of magnesium deficiency.”
If you workout at any level, having adequate magnesium levels can prevent injury because your muscles and tendons will stay more supple and your bones will benefit from magnesium’s relationship to calcium. Without a science lesson here, suffice it to say that magnesium and calcium hang out together and actually NEED each other to work. If one is deficient, the other one can’t work. Calcium NEEDS magnesium to be absorbed and build bone density. Taking calcium without magnesium also, is a waste of pills.
When the ART guy suggested I start taking magnesium to help with my psoas muscle and general body health, I decided to take it just to see if he was right. At first I didn’t notice anything, but one day I realized that my shoulder hurt less, I was able to run a little further without pain, and I was actually more flexible. An added benefit, which is probably TMI, is that I became very “regular”, if you know what I mean. These are all real, documented benefits of adequate magnesium levels.
So how do you know if you need it? Well, considering that 75% of us are deficient in it, assume that you are in that group. You also may have symptoms on the list above and there are more that are listed, so do a little digging to find out. The best sources of magnesium are eating whole foods such as spinach, kale, collard greens, swiss chard, nuts, fish, avocado, bananas, and dark chocolate. Soybeans and yogurt are also great sources, but not Paleo approved.
If you are going to take a pill supplement, the National Institute of Health (NIH) suggests 270-400 mg for adult males and 280-300 mg for adult females per day. I take a once-a-day dose of 400 mg at night, just above the recommended dose. You can easily find 250 mg and 400 mg tablets or capsules at any drug store or pharmacy. While you may not notice huge changes in how you feel, you will definitely begin to notice small ones. In my research, I read so many stories of people having almost miraculous changes after taking magnesium for only a short time. For me, I know that I physically feel better and am certain that it has helped almost rid me of psoas muscle pain and tightness.
And just in case you needed more proof, just yesterday my son broke his fibula in lacrosse practice. Today, the orthopedic doctor recommend that he begin taking not only calcium and Vitamin D, but magnesium for bone strength! So, run out and get some magnesium! Us CaveMamas would love to hear how it’s working for you and any changes you notice!
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