Perhaps you’re like me and you’re interested and intrigued with holistic ways to treat common health conditions. If you are, welcome to The Sensitive Soul blog!
I am insanely curious about the natural healing properties of herbs, minerals, alternative medicine, nutrition, exercise, Earth’s energy, and so much more. Ahhh, it lights me up so much just thinking about it!
While I do believe in an integrative model towards wellness (that is, combining modern Western medicine modalities with natural, more Eastern medicine traditions), I always lean towards the gentler, most natural way to treat symptoms if possible.
I have a very sensitive nervous system, so the gentler the approach to healing, the better!
In my course work and training as a professional counselor, I have been exploring holistic ways to treat mental health symptoms. What I have learned is that almost everyone is magnesium deficient. Why is that?
First, let’s talk about what magnesium is.
What is Magnesium?
Magnesium is an important nutrient that plays a vital role in our body’s biochemical reactions. Did you know that magnesium is the body’s second most prevalent electrolyte? Without sufficient magnesium levels, our cells may struggle to make energy and transport what they need to throughout our bodies.
So why are we often deficient in this nutrient?
Well, in modern times, our agriculture and soil are depleted of magnesium. Additionally, our water supply removes magnesium during routine municipal treatments. The average intake for US folks is about 250mg when we really should be averaging about 100mg higher.
Magnesium’s Effect on Our Bodies
Studies are finding that magnesium can have powerful effects on our brains. If you suffer from depression, memory difficulties, anxiety, insomnia, or muscle cramping, listen up!
Studies have indicated that magnesium supplementation/treatment can have incredible, beneficial gains for those who suffer from depression.
Three years ago, the National Institute of Mental Health announced that 16.2 million adult Americans experienced at least one episode of major depression (See? You’re not alone!).
You might have heard the word serotonin thrown around when people talk about depression. Well, it’s an important chemical in our bodies that helps deliver messages between our nerve cells. Research shows that supplementing with magnesium may naturally increase the serotonin levels in our bodies which helps combat depression. Serotonin needs magnesium.
So, if you’re suffering from depression, you might want to consider your magnesium levels to determine if a deficiency might be playing a role.
Are you under a lot of stress? Does your body feel rundown or chronically wired? This could be an indication that your stress response is in overdrive.
Magnesium’s effect on the GABA neurotransmitter is a positive one! It helps us feel more relaxed and more stable. This mineral is critical for regulating our stress response.
Magnesium can help regulate our fight or flight response making stressful events easier to handle. It has been shown to be effective in the treatment of those with depression and anxiety because it helps stabilize our mood.
Many people have learned that magnesium is helpful in different types of pain management: headaches, premenstrual syndrome, fibromyalgia, and various other back, muscle, and joint pains. So if you suffer from pain related or unrelated to depression, consider getting more magnesium into your system. I prefer taking epsom salt baths.
INCREASED MEMORY FUNCTION
Studies have shown that magnesium plays a critical role in our memory function. If you struggle with staying focused or with your memory, consider taking magnesium. Studies are indicating that magnesium increases synaptic plasticity, meaning, the brain is able to rewire its connections allowing it to continue to develop through life or recover from injury.
So how do you know if you’re deficient? It’s actually somewhat tricky to measure the overall magnesium levels in your body because it’s stored in our bones and cells. Very little floats freely in our blood. You could ask your doctor to test your levels, but perhaps the best way to know is to see how you feel once you supplement at a low dose. Notice if you feel any improvement. *Before starting a new supplement, always check with your physician.
If you’re a migraine sufferer, I feel ya! They’re the absolute WORST! Good news though, studies have shown that magnesium help prevent and treat migraines. In fact, many researchers believe people who suffer from migraines are more likely to be magnesium deficient.
Ugh, the dreaded PMS that so many of us women experience can be treated with magnesium! Supplementing with it can improve mood, reduce water retention, lessen cramping, etc.
Magnesium has been shown to calm down our body’s nervous system response, as mentioned above. So if you suffer from anxiety chronically or from time to time, you might want to increase your intake of magnesium-rich foods in your diet or use an approved supplement that your doctor can recommend.
FINDING MAGNESIUM IN YOUR DIET
It’s important, more than anything, to make sure you’re eating whole, magnesium-rich foods. Some sources include:
Pumpkin Seeds, Almonds, Salmon, Spinach (boiled), Swiss Chard (boiled), Dark Chocolate (80-85% cacao), Black Beans, Quinoa (cooked), Halibut, Cashews, and Avocado.
YUM! Those all sound like amazing choices to me!
HOW TO SUPPLEMENT
If you have a medical condition, consult with your doctor before starting any supplement. Even if you’re in perfect health otherwise, always consult a physician before introducing a new supplement to your body.
Supplement forms that are highly tolerated include: magnesium citrate (I prefer Natural Calm), glycinate, and carbonate. You can also soak in an epsom salt bath for 20 minutes using about 1-2 cups of epsom salt per full bath. Be sure to purchase salts without synthetic fragrances. (I just took a bath today and it was glorious!)
So there you have it. Getting enough magnesium is essential. Many foods contain it and there are a variety of high-quality supplements that offer it as well. So if you feel like your body isn’t functioning optimally or that your mental health isn’t where you want it, absolutely consider your magnesium levels!
Here’s to a happy, healthy you!
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