In fact, our body uses it in over 300 reactions. Most of our bodies magnesium is stored in our bones, but it can also be found in our muscles where it supports muscle relaxation, and other metabolically active organs such as your brain, heart, liver and kidneys.
A body under stress uses more magnesium. Increasing magnesium levels has a positive influence on our stress hormones, supports sleep and enables us to deal with stressors better so that our magnesium stores stay high.
Magnesium supports nitric oxide synthesis, which dilates blood vessels and influences muscular tension and weaknesses. It aids relaxation and supports blood flow.
Irritability, unstable moods, and worry can be signs of magnesium deficiency. Not only is magnesium needed for energy production, it has a calming effect on our nervous system. Caffeine and alcohol are often reached for in times of irritability. Although it may seem like a good idea at the time, both caffeine and alcohol can inhibit magnesium absorption and cause increased magnesium excretion, leading to further mood fluctuations.
There are many different types of magnesium and some are absorbed better than others. If you are taking a magnesium supplement, it is important to know the form you are consuming. Magnesium chelate, aspartate and citrate have excellent absorption, however magnesium oxide does not.
Our body can’t make magnesium, it relies on our diet to provide it with the amount it needs to function optimally. Dark leafy greens like spinach, kale and silverbeet, and nuts and seeds are all great sources of magnesium.
Be careful though. Almonds, cashews, pumpkin seeds and brazil nuts are all high in magnesium, however they are also high in phytic acid, which reduces magnesium absorption. Soaking nuts and seeds before eating them helps to break down phytic acids, unlocking magnesium and many other nutrients for optimal digestion.
Recommended dietary intakes of magnesium changes through different stages of life and rates of growth. Regardless of age, many New Zealanders don’t get enough magnesium. Although it is common to have low levels, it is important to know that you can have too much of a good thing. Make sure you know how much magnesium your body needs, how much magnesium you eat, and how much you’re getting from supplements.