7 signs of magnesium deficiency that could be ruining your body goals MAIN (1)

7 signs of magnesium deficiency that could be ruining your body goals

Magnesium deficiency affects large numbers of Brits and the signs are symptoms most of us complain about everyday, from aching muscles to disturbed sleep

Whoever thought of New Year’s resolutions anyway? The idea of changing your life during the most depressing time of year, when the weather is at its coldest and you’re exhausted, not to mention broke post-Christmas, is a tall order.

In fact, new research has found that while 70 per cent of people have started a New Year’s resolution, over half of those have given theirs up by the end of January.

One of the reasons I used to have problems working out as regularly as I would like was the terrible muscle aches and pains – especially in my legs – I would get after strenuous exercise. Occasionally these would cramp at night and even wake me up.

70 per cent of people have started a new year’s resolution, over half of those have given theirs up by the end of January.

I loved to lift weights, run and do circuits, but one lifting session often had me so sore I couldn’t workout at all again for the next five days. While muscle soreness after heavy exercise is normal, it should subside within 72 hours at most.

‘You’re deficient in magnesium,’ said my colleague Rick Hay, who happens to be the Nutritional Director of Healthista, after hearing me complain about my aches and night cramps for the twelfth time that day.

He knew without me telling him, that I was also always exhausted and never could sleep through the night, so he didn’t have to ask me about those tell-tale symptoms of a deficiency (see below).

7-signs-of-magnesium-deficiency-that-could-be-ruining-your-body-goals-Insufficient-sleep

Studies have also shown that when magnesium levels are too low, it’s harder to stay asleep.

‘Do you get bad PMT?’ he asked. ‘Some, mainly swollen boobs and occasional cramping.’ He assured me then, that could also be down to a deficiency.

I tried supplementing with magnesium and within a fortnight, all my night cramps had disappeared as had the muscle soreness. Now I can manage four to five times a week at the gym and I rarely get sore, and I regularly change up my routine.

The best effect? Using magnesium oil cream transdermally (through the skin – see below) before bed knocked me out and now helps me to sleep through the night. That has increased my energy no end. I always know if I have forgotten it because like clockwork, I’m awake at 4am.

But I’m not alone in having discovered the benefits of this rarely discussed nutrient.

In October 2017, TV doctor Michael Moseley appeared on BBC Radio Two’s Breakfast Show with Chris Evans discussing increasing research showing how a humble mineral could be used to treat a range of common ailments including insomniadepressionmigraines, PMT and constipation. That mineral? Magnesium.

This essential mineral plays a crucial role in more than 300 different enzymatic reactions in the body each day.

But most of us are deficient in magnesium. In fact, according to one study on 8000 participants between August 2014 and January 2016 by the testing company Mineral Check, around 70 per cent of Brits had low magnesium levels.

According to the British Nutrition Foundation, one in five women aged 19-34 and more than half of all teenage girls – and 53 per cent of all women – have intakes below the Lower Reference Nutrient Intake (LRNI) for magnesium.

‘Although teenage and adult males typically require more magnesium than women, it seems that women are more prone to low magnesium levels’, says nutritionist Keeley Berry.

This essential mineral plays a crucial role in more than 300 different enzymatic reactions in the body each day, with research finding it can help achieve a restful night’s sleep, reduce the symptoms of restless leg syndrome, chronic pain, tiredness, mood swings and migraines.

Common signs of deficiency

In fact, when quizzed about some of the reasons they failed to stick to their best laid January fitness plans, people blamed themselves, as we so often do.  ‘Lack of motivation,’ said one. ‘Too tired,’ quipped another. ‘Too stressed, too unorganised, poor health…’ the list goes on.

But while we’re not saying magnesium is a cure-all, it could be a simple solution that’s worth trying.

‘People might have given up on exercise and other resolutions in the New Year out of tiredness or sore muscles and they may well be blaming themselves for that, but magnesium deficiency is a real problem and could be behind it,’ says Berry.

Here are some of the signs of magnesium deficiency that could be ruining your body goals.

1. Your muscles hurt like hell after exercise

‘Magnesium plays a key role in muscle contraction by acting as a calcium blocker,’ says Berry. ‘When calcium binds to proteins in the muscle it causes a contraction.  With too much circulating calcium, and/or too little magnesium it can cause involuntary contractions of the muscles which causes aching and cramps.’

7-signs-of-magnesium-deficiency-that-could-be-ruining-your-body-goals-Aching-Muscles.

During exercise we use our calcium stores to facilitate these muscular contractions, and as we sweat, we start to lose potassium, sodium and magnesium resulting in an imbalance which can also give rise to painful cramps after exercise, Berry explains.

Magnesium sprays can be used before, during and after exercise for a quick top up (see below). Magnesium Oil Original Spray £12.20 from Healthista Shop, health food stores and BetterYou.

2. You’re exhausted

Low energy levels and fatigue have been linked to low magnesium levels within the body because magnesium is needed for the body to produce adenosine tri-phosphate (ATP) which is essential to creating energy, Hay explains.

‘Magnesium is required to bind with ATP (the body’s source of energy) to form the Mg-ATP complex which makes it biologically active,’ says Berry.

‘This is a key process, so the body can use it for over 300 reactions that regulate blood pressure, muscle contraction and energy production – to name just a few’.

3. You struggle to sleep – or stay asleep

Magnesium is essential for restful sleep and so our bodies can replenish whilst we rest. ‘Magnesium is required to bind with ATP (the body’s source of energy) to form the Mg-ATP complex which makes it biologically active,’ says Berry.

‘This is a key process so the body can use it for over 300 reactions that regulate blood pressure, muscle contraction and energy production to name a few’.

Magnesium also has a muscle relaxing effect, working alongside calcium to help regulate muscle movement.  This is why it’s often used before bed to help with feelings of being ‘wired and tired’ but not being able to sleep.

Magnesium also has a muscle relaxing effect, working alongside calcium to help regulate muscle movement.

Studies have also shown that when magnesium levels are too low, it’s harder to stay asleep.  ‘Magnesium contributes to the normal function of the nervous system thereby offering nervous system support which may then assist with sleep disturbance,’ says Hay.

Magnesium increases a chemical neurotransmitter in the brain called GABA, which encourages relaxation as well as sleep.

Low GABA levels in the body can make it difficult to relax. Magnesium promotes good sleep by helping us unwind, Hay explains, and it’s an important factor in how our body manages its sleep cycle.

Indeed, a 2012 study found that 500mg magnesium taken for eight weeks before bed had a positive improvement on insomnia levels.

4. You feel depressed

‘Magnesium has a role in hormonal regulation and may also help blood sugar balance which can help with mood issues such as depression and anxiety,’ says Hay.

‘Positive neurotransmitters in the brain such as serotonin are regulated by magnesium, and such neurotransmitters are essential to a stable mood.’

7-signs-of-magnesium-deficiency-that-could-be-ruining-your-body-goals-Depression

Excitingly, researchers in 2017 published a study in the journal PLoS One that found adults who received 248 mg magnesium a day for six weeks saw a significant improvement in their levels of depression and anxiety.

‘With current treatment options for depression limited by cost, side effects and acceptability to patients, the study showed magnesium supplements may be a fast, safe and easily accessible alternative,’ says Berry.

5. PMS ruined your best intentions

Magnesium can help to reduce the symptoms of PMS, such as mood swings, irritability and depression as well as anxiety, headaches and poor sleep.

Recent studies show that using magnesium with vitamin B6 can significantly decrease PMT symptoms.  As magnesium is a natural muscle relaxant it can help with muscle cramps associated with PMT.

In one of these studies, participants with PMS were randomly assigned to one of the three groups of the study, one group took magnesium, one took magnesium and vitamin B6 and one took a placebo.

Recent studies show that using magnesium with vitamin B6 can significantly decrease PMT symptoms.

After four months the mean score of PMS significantly decreased in all the three groups but the decrease was greatest in the group who took magnesium and vitamin B6, and was the least in the placebo group. This is because in addition to the benefits of magnesium, vitamin B6 is good for hormonal regulation. Try Biocare’s vitamin B6, £9.95 from health food stores and biocare.co.uk and Healthista Shop.

6. You crave chocolate

Cravings for specific foods can indicate nutrient deficiency and if it’s chocolate you’re craving most often, a lack of magnesium could be the reason.

Chocolate is high in magnesium and because our levels go down during and before our period, some experts suggest what we’re really craving when we reach for chocolate pre-menstrually is magnesium. The highest levels are found in dark chocolate that is over 60 per cent cocoa.

7. You caught yet another cold and couldn’t go to the gym

With younger children and the elderly being more susceptible to infection due to their immature immune systems and [in older people] poor absorption of nutrients in the gut as we age, there are vitamins and minerals that can help keep defences strong including magnesium, Berry asserts.

‘Depletion in magnesium can often manifest in many conditions including a sub-optimal immune system, as magnesium is an important co-factor for the formation of antibodies which target invading pathogens to keep us healthy,’ she explains.

7-signs-of-magnesium-deficiency-that-could-be-ruining-your-body-goals-Cold-and-flu

Which foods contain the most magnesium?

Good sources of magnesium include almonds, cashews and peanuts, spinach, brown rice and black beans along with edamame. If you’re a trendy avocado on toast fan, your magnesium stores will love you as both avocados and whole wheat are rich in magnesium.

In order to have a diet rich in magnesium it’s recommended to have a varied diet with a selection of food groups as this will also provide other essential nutrients the body needs to absorb magnesium.

‘This is great news for those that follow a vegan diet as magnesium isn’t particularly abundant in animal products,’ says Berry.

‘For those that do eat meat, pork is a much better source of magnesium in comparison to chicken.

Can I test my magnesium levels?

‘You can take a hair tissue mineral analysis test, such as mineral check, which will help identify levels of magnesium amongst other nutrients in your body,’ says Berry.

‘In a healthy individual, any excess magnesium the body doesn’t require, will be eliminated  as magnesium is a water-soluble mineral,’ Berry asserts.

Can you overdose on magnesium?

There are recommended daily intakes of magnesium (these are 375mg), says Berry.  ‘Research has shown that much higher levels than those recommended are safe to use, however oral supplementation can cause severe and cramping.’

Transdermal magnesium (see below) on the other hand, such as that found in BetterYou’s range avoids this as it doesn’t travel through the digestive tract.

‘In a healthy individual, any excess magnesium the body doesn’t require, will be eliminated  as magnesium is a water-soluble mineral,’ Berry asserts.

Magnesium supplements – what you need to know

Oral magnesium. Taking an oral magnesium supplement can sometime cause stomach upsets and if you suffer from problems such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) you might also have problems with absorbing enough magnesium from an oral supplement, says Hay.

Transdermal magnesium. Taking magnesium through the skin has been shown to lead to better absorption, he explains, because it gives you a sustained release and bypasses the digestive system, reaching the bloodstream more directly.  ‘For fast-acting use, magnesium chloride has an impressive rate of absorption,’ says Hay.

Indeed, one study on transdermal magnesium found that using magnesium on the skin instead of taking it orally elevated cellular magnesium levels up to five times faster than traditional tablets or capsules.

BetterYou Magnesium Oil spray

The £12 oil that will help you reach your body goals

BetterYou offers a MagnesiumOil Spray which is scientifically formulated to deliver 200mg of magnesium direct to the skin in just ten sprays.

The oil contains magnesium chloride which is known to effectively elevate cellular magnesium levels within the body when exposed to the skin.

MagnesiumOil Original Spray is dermatologically tested and can be used during pregnancy. Berry advises gently massaging ten sprays of the oil into clean, dry skin daily (ideally after showering or before sleep) to get 200mg magnesium.

‘The speed of absorption means that the product is an effective treatment for any muscle tension that may disturb your workout regime’, she says.

BetterYou is currently offering 25% off the magnesium range (at betteryou.com) which means you can pick up the oil for just £9.15 until the end of February.

Not bad for less than a tenner.

For maximum absorption, BetterYou’s range of transdermal magnesium products has something for everyone and includes: Magnesium Flakes, from £3.49, MagnesiumOil Spray, £12.20, Magnesium Gel, £9.95, Magnesium Skin Body Lotion, £9.95 and Magnesium Skin Body Butter, £9.95.

The range is available from the Healthista Shop and Holland and Barrett stores nationwide. Find out more at BetterYou.com.

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