So I have a funny story to tell you - one day I got an article sent to me in my inbox from another physician and it said, "What's the Big Deal with Magnesium?" I just started cracking up because it's actually one of the biggest deficiencies I see in my patients.
Magnesium is probably not only the number one deficiency that I see but the number one supplement where I see people taking the totally wrong form.
What is Magnesium and What Does it Do?
Magnesium is a natural element and it is found in certain foods that most people do not eat enough of or supplement well enough. Magnesium helps control and balance your entire nervous system. Your nervous system is your brain and spinal cord and controls your entire body - it controls your heart, lungs, your sleep cycle - you name it, your nervous system is involved.
There are a few things to know about your nervous system. First, there are two sides - your sympathetic and parasympathetic. Here's a little snapshot of what each system focuses on:
Your sympathetic nervous system is what is active when you are awake and needs high levels of cortisol to function. Your cortisol level should be highest when you wake up, lowest when you go to bed.
Cortisol helps with:
- Blood Sugar
- Blood Pressure
- Mental Focus
As the day goes on, your cortisol levels should go down, preparing your body for rest and allowing your parasympathetic system to takeover, BUT there are many factors throughout our days that don't allow our cortisol levels to go down, keeping us awake at night not able to fall asleep. Things that keep your cortisol levels up include:
- Inflammatory foods
- Skipping meals
- Emotional stress
- Sitting all day
Soda is probably the worst cause for magnesium deficiency. Soda makes your body acid. Your body has to neutralize that acidity, it will not keep you in an acid state. So what happens is your body has to get that magnesium somewhere. So it's going to start pulling minerals like magnesium and calcium out of bone, muscle, and nerve tissue to neutralize that acidity. So you are creating a magnesium deficiency in your body by drinking soda because your body pulls it from other places. It does not matter the quantity; 1 sip of soda makes your body acid and begins a magnesium deficiency.
Soda is not the only acid food that will cause a deficiency. Others include:
- Fried Food
- Wheat Products
- Dairy Products
Foods you should be eating instead are veggies and lemons. Many people think that lemon is acid, but it's not. It actually helps to alkalize and detox your system. Foods that are rich in magnesium itself are cocoa powder and pumpkin seeds, but you would need to eat A LOT of it. In fact, ladies, do you ever notice that around that time you find yourself craving chocolate? That's because your uterus is contracting on your period and your muscles, which is what your uterus is, needs magnesium. So when the uterus starts cramping and contracting, you're going to crave chocolate to get that burst of magnesium. BUT don't use that as an excuse to eat all the chocolate you want, it's still not healthy for you.
Here is a list of symptoms associated with magnesium deficiency:
If you notice that you have any of these symptoms above, you have a magnesium deficiency. But don't worry, it's an easy fix. When you begin supplementing magnesium, you need to take it at night - either with dinner or before bed because we want it to activate your parasympathetic nervous system. This part of your nervous system tells your body that it's time to relax, fall asleep, stay asleep, and get a restful amount of sleep. Doesn't that sound nice?
How Magnesium Helps:
Taking magnesium at night helps you absorb the water that has leaked out of your cells throughout the day. That's why you weigh less when you wake up, it's not because you're not eating it's because the water is absorbing back into your cells. So if you have issues with water retention, bloating, and weight fluctuation, taking that magnesium at night is gonna be particularly beneficial to you.
So what form of magnesium should you be supplementing with?
That's it. This particularly helps activate your parasympathetic nervous system, which shuts down that stress system, that has you anxious in fight or flight mode, and also affects your sleep, as well as belly fat. So if you want to lose belly fat, keep reading. You need to take anywhere between 200-400mg before bed. It's essential.
But don't stop reading yet: NOT ALL MAGNESIUM SUPPLEMENTS WERE CREATED EQUAL. There are some you need to AVOID:
There are a lot of magnesium supplements out there and 90% of them are laxatives. Let me give you a little clue here, if it's going through you, it is not getting absorbed in your muscles, your bones, or your nerves.
Here are laxative forms of magnesium that you need to avoid if you are wanting your body to absorb it and help your nervous system:
- Magnesium citrate
- Magnesium sulfate
- This is "Epsom salt" which I do recommend for detoxing, but don't drink it. Take an Epsom salt bath instead.
- Magnesium oxide
The biggest takeaway you need to remember from this article is that magnesium helps your nervous system which controls everything. So, magnesium helps control everything in your body. Eat enough vegetables, drink water with lemon, and supplement MAGNESIUM GLYCINATE before bed and you'll be feeling better in no time.