Few things from our diet have more influence over the body than magnesium. It supports a massive amount of things that keep us healthy from metabolism, blood sugar regulation, bone health, nerve and muscle function, emotional health right through to our wonderful restorative sleep.
Magnesium has the power to support your sleep through five main routes;
1. Turn off- It is responsible for "turning off" wakefulness through its role in maintaining levels of GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid), a neurotransmitter which are the bodies chemical messengers for the brain and the nervous system overall
2. Less stress - It also helps calm the nervous system down, helping it work more efficiently by limiting the effects of the stress hormone cortisol. Research also indicates that magnesium through its effect on GABA has the potential to reduce feelings of anxiety*
3. Happy tummy - Recent research indicates that magnesium deficiency can negatively affect gut health and with it lead to feelings of anxiety
4. Relax - It also plays a role in muscle relaxation helping us ‘feel’ relaxed
5. Rewards pleasure - Magnesium helps the body's dopamine levels rise. Dopamine is our reward and pleasure hormone which aids our mood, helping us relax and unwind
Twenty years ago your diet alone was enough. Lots of dark green veggies, avocados, bananas, eggs, milk, yogurt, seeds (pumpkin & sunflower seeds are the best) & nuts (almonds & cashews are the best) would have alone been all great sources to keep you supplied with your recommended daily allowances
Now, not so much. Soil degradation due in a large part to over farming worldwide** means even with a balanced good diet you still will not be getting as much magnesium (not to mention all other essential vitamins & minerals) as you would have even twenty years ago.
Add to this the typical western diet with lots of processed food is a perfect storm. That’s because processed fats, refined sugars, salt, synthetic sweetener’s or too much caffeine hinders your body’s ability to absorb magnesium. However, even a so called healthy diet such as vegan can be damaging if it’s not a balanced one (a wide variety of healthy foods). And research supports this, with as many as 56% of people thought to be deficient***. Not only hampering sleep, lack of magnesium can lead to symptoms including muscle twitches, cramping, depression, fatigue, and even high blood pressure.
Supplementing your diet is no longer a luxury. This is especially true for magnesium given its many roles in our physical, emotional & cognitive health. Take it about an hour before you head to bed for the best effect on sleep. And don’t worry it won't knock you out or make you overly drowsy but will naturally support your body and brain’s innate desire to wind down at the end of the day on your way to dream land
* Boyle, Neil Bernard et al. “The Effects of Magnesium Supplementation on Subjective Anxiety and Stress-A Systematic Review.” Nutrients vol. 9,5 429. 26 Apr. 2017, doi:10.3390/nu9050429
**Borrelli, P., Robinson, D.A., Fleischer, L.R. et al. An assessment of the global impact of 21st century land use change on soil erosion. Nat Commun 8, 2013 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-017-02142-7
***Schwalfenberg, Gerry K, and Stephen J Genuis. “The Importance of Magnesium in Clinical Healthcare.” Scientifica vol. 2017 (2017): 4179326. doi:10.1155/2017/4179326
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