As a nutritionist I spend my time helping people to make better food choices, suggesting supplements to target stubborn issues and generally strategizing to improve and enhance health. However – sometimes I forget to take my own advice.
This time of year I always experience a little bit of added anxiety. When I get this way I have a hard time falling asleep which escalates the problem (I have to get up early tomorrow!!!) and the cycle starts – increased stress and anxiety leading to difficulty sleeping leading to poor food choices leading to poor digestion (hello constipation and bloating) leading to increased stress, anxiety and me just feeling not great in general.
So when I attended a lecture on how nutrition impacts our mental health the portion on Magnesium deficiency floored me – one of the clinical symptoms of Magnesium deficiency is increased anxiety – the other clinical symptoms? Insomnia, constipation and irritability. Immediately following the talk I ordered some Magnesium citrate and within 24 hours I was experiencing improvement – a week later I feel like a whole new person. My positive outlook is back, my anxiety is significantly reduced, my gut function has improved (including total resolution of my constipation and bloating), my stomach discomfort related to anxiety and stress is gone and I am sleeping again.
Magnesium deficiency is extremely common as this mineral is poorly absorbed and many of our common habits contribute to its loss from our system including coffee, cola, sugar and alcohol intake. Magnesium also becomes depleted due to elevated stress, poor sleep and use of antacids or other medications.
Some food sources of Magnesium include: kelp, wheat bran, wheat germ, almonds, cashews, brazil nuts, millet, pecans, beans, barley, figs, dates, collard greens, avocado, parsley, garlic and dandelion greens. Unfortunately, even if you eat these foods regularly you still might not be getting enough. If you are experiencing any of those clinical symptoms – irritability, constipation, insomnia or anxiety I would consider taking a supplement. Other symptoms of Magnesium deficiency include fatigue, migraines, menstrual cramps, muscle weakness, and headaches.
There are many different types of Magnesium supplements out there to choose from. I would recommend Magnesium citrate, glycinate or threonate. Magnesium citrate is well absorbed, readily available and inexpensive. This form of Magnesium will provide laxative effects so if you do not have constipation this one is not for you. Magnesium glycinate is extremely well absorbed and does not cause loose stools. Magnesium threonate is harder to find but is the most easily absorbed. Avoid any magnesium supplements containing magnesium stearate, oxide, sulfonate, gluconate or carbonate. The recommended daily intake is 300mg but people may benefit from doses between 400 – 1000mg.