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Magnesium is involved in hundreds of Biochemical reactions in your body and there are many benefits to having a healthy intake of magnesium ranging from reducing stress, better sleep, less headaches and improved calcium absorption.
Studies have shown that a large percentage of people from all age ranges are magnesium deficient. It should be no surprise as modern advances in food harvesting technologies have reduced the amount of magnesium that is found from natural food sources and our water.
There are many habits that occur in our day to day lives that drain our magnesium. Listed below are just a few of the things that constantly deplete our magnesium levels and what we need to be aware of so that we can maintain better magnesium levels in our bodies.
Have you ever wondered what happens in your body when you feel stressed? We’re all aware of how it makes us feel; tired, unmotivated and sluggish. You may feel as if you need some kind of stimulant such as medication, energy drinks or most commonly coffee just to get through the day.
One of the reasons we feel this way is because our bodies use magnesium to release adrenaline and cortisol to help us manage the stress. Magnesium is a finite resource which is depleted when used this way.
Whilst it is practically impossible to avoid all stressful situations in our lives, we can actively pursue calming exercises such as meditation and mindfulness to reduce the length of time that we feel stressed and to remove our focus on stressful thoughts.
The main source of magnesium in our bodies is from our diet such as green leafy vegetables, nuts, seeds and legumes. However in recent times it has been found that the average adult only receives 66% of their daily recommended magnesium in their normal diet. The main contributor of this deficiency has been a cultural shift towards more processed foods. It is easy to reach for the ready meals and fast food when we are already feeling tired and sluggish, not knowing that our continued consumption of these types of foods are actually contributing to the low feelings in the first place.
Packaged foods are altered during processing to make them more convenient, flavourful and to increase their shelf life. However, during this process a lot of the important nutrients such as magnesium are stripped. You will find that many foods on the shelves have had to be artificially fortified with vitamins and minerals because of this.
To maintain a magnesium rich diet it is important to be aware of processed foods and make sure you try to go for the more natural variety. One example of this is switching to whole grains instead of refined flour, since refined flour has had more than half of the magnesium stripped out of it. Processed foods also contain a high amount of refined sugar. We as a society have become quite aware of the amount of sugars in foods but companies have adapted and become much more sneaky regarding how sugar is labelled in their food. If you turn the food box over and have a look at the ingredients you will rarely see ‘sugar’ listed, but rather could be listed as ‘sucrose’, ‘dextrose’, ‘cane juice’, or ‘corn sweetener’ to name a few.
Before you go shopping it would be beneficial to familiarise yourself with the alternative aliases for sugar, and if it is listed as one of the first five ingredients of a product, then it may be worth reconsidering the purchase of that product.
Monitoring your sugar intake is hugely important because a high blood sugar and elevated insulin levels are associated with decreased magnesium absorption and will cause your kidneys to excrete magnesium faster (meaning it comes out in your urine). This means that you are getting much less value out of the magnesium in your body.
It may be easy to put down the high sugar content food but it is definitely not easy for a lot of us to avoid caffeine. Unfortunately it is an indirect contributor to magnesium deficiency. There have been a few studies which have shown that drinking coffee causes your intestinal lining to drop in its ability to absorb magnesium, and some researchers have seen an association between people who drink lots of coffee and magnesium deficiency. If you maintain a well balanced diet this should balance out. A bad habit that many people have developed is to reach for a cup of coffee, tea or a glass of soda when we are feeling tired - doing so only perpetuates the cycle. If we add on top of this the fact that many people also put sugar in their coffee, it means that we are adding to the inhibitory effect of magnesium absorption. If you are already struggling to maintain the proper levels of magnesium in your body then a healthier alternative would be to drink a glass of water instead.
Drinking alcohol has the same effect of consuming refined sugar in that it speeds up the excretion of magnesium through your kidneys. This increases the amount of magnesium waste in your urine. In high amounts, studies have shown that people who consume more than the recommended amount of alcohol have a wide spectrum of nutritional deficiencies including magnesium depletion. If you are struggling with low levels of magnesium, moderating your alcohol intake can go a long way in ensuring that you are achieving the most value out of the magnesium in your body.
An increase in reliance of both recreational and prescription drugs has also had a profound impact on the levels of magnesium in our bodies as many of them can affect the absorption of magnesium in the gut. For example, certain antibiotics and beta-blockers have been shown to decrease magnesium reserves as they use the same metabolic pathways for intestinal absorption. This works the other way as well in that magnesium can impact on the effectiveness of prescription drugs. It is imperative that you consult with your doctor when taking prescription drugs that they do not interfere with one another, especially when introducing supplements to your daily routine.
It is considered a universal truth that exercise is good for you, and I am not here to say anything different, only that it is important for you to be aware of the effects of exercise on your stores of magnesium. Magnesium is a resource that is used up as it produces adrenaline during a workout. After a session of exercise, just as you would drink and eat to replenish your energy you should be aware that magnesium has also been lost and you should consider reaching for some magnesium rich foods such as almonds, cashews and peanuts to restore your reserves.
This is not an exhaustive list, just 6 of the main culprits which can cause our magnesium levels to drop below the recommended amount. As long as we are aware of these habits we can take steps to address these magnesium draining habits and improve our well-being. Magnesium is critically important for more than 300 functions within the body and has a real impact on our energy levels and how we feel. As we do not produce it naturally, we are reliant on acquiring magnesium through our diet where it is becoming more naturally scarce. It is in all of our best interests to retain our levels as much as possible. Another way to help our magnesium intake is by supplementing it, explore magnesium supplements at Oceans Alive!
Oral magnesium supplements are known to have poor absorption rates and may cause diarrhoea and other gastrointestinal problems in larger doses. One of the big benefits of a magnesium spray is how effectively it is absorbed when it’s sprayed onto the skin. By bypassing the digestive system it goes straight into the bloodstream and is delivered to the cells that need it.
In making a few changes to our diet and lifestyles we will quickly see an improvement in our overall health.
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