Insomnia is a widespread condition in today’s busy world. There’s endless stress, deadlines, and anxiety that may be keeping you up at night. Get yourself checked for magnesium deficiency, one of the most common causes of insomnia. With the right amount of this magic mineral in your bloodstream, you can see visible change and several of your ailments vanishing with time. The mineral is of utmost importance for several of your bodily functions, let’s break it down.
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What Is Magnesium?
Magnesium is a mineral that is found in the human body and serves several important functions. It is the second-most abundant element available in the human cell. About 99% of the total magnesium in the body is found in bones, muscles, and non-muscular soft tissue. It’s what keeps your muscles from staying contracted all the time. A balanced amount of magnesium in the body, therefore, is of utmost importance to human health. It allows the body to produce energy, the muscles to expand, and healthy amounts of cholesterol to be produced and released into the blood. As a cofactor, magnesium ions are important for at least 300 biochemical reactions in the body.
In nature, magnesium is found in a variety of different forms, usually combined with other elements. Some common forms of magnesium in nature are magnesium chloride (salt that is easily soluble in water), magnesite (insoluble rock salt) and in plants as a crucial element in chlorophyll.
A macro-mineral, magnesium is needed by the body in large quantities. Mg2+ or the magnesium ion is the fourth most common positively charged ion in the body. Magnesium is taken into the body through food and supplements and then broken into separate magnesium atoms, which are further involved in different processes in the body. Yet, most people don’t meet the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of 300 and 420 mg/day (for women and men, respectively).
What Is Magnesium Used For?
As described above, magnesium is useful for a lot of bodily processes and functions. Magnesium benefits are endless, and the element plays a key role in allowing human beings to lead healthier lives. The following are some of the most common benefits of magnesium:
Magnesium is useful in helping you sleep better. Healthy levels of magnesium in the body ensure you sleep more comfortably and wake up less frequently in the middle of the night. Magnesium also maintains healthy levels of GABA, a neurotransmitter that enhances sleep. Insomnia is often a common symptom of magnesium deficiency.
When you sleep better, naturally your body feels more relaxed too. Magnesium can have a stabilizing effect on your mood. With the healthy release of GABA neurotransmitters, magnesium is able to regulate the body’s stress-response system. It has also been found that often the cause of stress and anxiety is linked to a magnesium deficiency.
The reason why your muscles can both expand and contract so rhythmically is because of magnesium. Magnesium is one of the most important elements of cardiovascular health. Its job of regulating muscle function also extends to the heart muscle. It’s important to maintain heart rhythm. It is also extremely important to regulate blood pressure and for producing and releasing cholesterol into the bloodstream.
In patients with hypertension, magnesium is known to lower blood pressure. It is also extremely helpful in treating cardiovascular issues like arrhythmia, coronary artery disease, angina, etc.
Magnesium deficiency is also said to increase inflammation and mark up the secretion of inflammatory markers like C-reactive protein. Elevated CRP is a sign of an increased risk of several inflammatory diseases. Studies have shown that those with low levels of magnesium are at greater risk of elevated CRP levels, leading to cardiovascular issues.
Supplemental magnesium has also shown to treat the symptoms of pain. Patients suffering from diseases like fibromyalgia often complain of elevated levels of pain owing to magnesium deficiency. Magnesium is also found to be useful for anesthesiologists to use in various methods of pain management. Supplemental magnesium has also been known to help with chronic lower back pain, premenstrual cramps, migraines, etc.
As mentioned before, magnesium is most commonly found in bones. It is of utmost importance to maintain bone density and formation. It enhances the body’s absorption of calcium and vitamin D, the main elements of the bone structure. As you grow older, the need for magnesium for bone health becomes clearer, and the more intake you have of magnesium, the greater your bone density. Conditions like osteoporosis in postmenopausal women are often managed, if not treated, with magnesium supplements.
Does Magnesium Make You Sleepy?
As mentioned above, magnesium ions are important elements to have in your body to get a good night’s sleep. Magnesium helps relax your body, reduce stress, and release neurotransmitters like GABA, which promote sleep. If there was a lack of magnesium in your body, you could feel a sense of anxiety, stress, and often find yourself waking up in dread at night. Magnesium deficiency has also been known to affect the gut bacteria, which in turn leads to feeling unsettled and anxious.
With all these impacts of a healthy dose of magnesium, it has a great effect on your quality of sleep. It allows for a deep, restorative sleep which means your body goes through all the stages of your sleep cycle, from light sleep to REM sleep at night. Restorative sleep allows for your brain and body to be rested and magnesium is a great contributor to that.
How Much Magnesium Should You Take?
Now, let’s talk dosage. Anything in excess is obviously not good so your intake of magnesium also needs to be balanced. The recommended daily allowance for an average adult is about 300 mg for women and 410 mg for men. The amounts may vary from person to person and it is best to have a nutritionist suggest the dosage if you wish to feel more confident. Depending on age and gender too, the amounts may fluctuate. Doctors tend to prescribe a higher intake of magnesium to patients above 50 to enhance bone density and cardiovascular health.
Best Time to Take Magnesium for Sleep
If you’re looking to consume magnesium to improve the quality of your sleep, it is best to take it an hour or two before you go to bed. This gives the element enough time to start showing its effect and makes your body feel relaxed and your mind to feel calm. Magnesium is also known to have positive effects on your metabolic health. It is used to regulate the levels of other macro-minerals like calcium and potassium in your body and helps you to digest your food. This is another argument to be made in favor of taking your magnesium in the evening.
Magnesium and Insomnia
Insomnia is often found to be a symptom of magnesium deficiency or hypomagnesemia, which either refers to a lack of intake or lack of absorption of dietary magnesium. As you grow older, insomnia becomes a very common condition and magnesium supplements for sleep are often the way to treat the symptoms.
As has been mentioned, it helps reduce anxiety, increases the release of neurotransmitters that help induce sleep and also aids with digestion. While the exact dosage of magnesium, especially for sleep is still being researched, a general, healthy supply of magnesium is recommended.
Magnesium Supplements Benefits
There are several benefits of taking magnesium supplements. These supplements are often recommended when the body is deficient of the mineral and is not getting it from everyday diets. There are several different types of supplemental magnesium, however, which vary in absorption rates. Some common examples of magnesium supplements are:
- Magnesium gluconate, which comes from the magnesium salt of gluconic acid.
- Magnesium oxide, which has the highest amount of magnesium by weight but is hard to absorb.
- Magnesium chloride, commonly found in the sea and absorbs quite easily in the body.
- Magnesium hydroxide, commonly known as milk of magnesia, which is known to be an effective laxative.
- Magnesium aspartate, a common supplement that is highly absorbable.
If supplements are not the direction you want to go in, you may want to take care of your diet in order to ensure that you have a balanced intake of magnesium. The following are some foods you can include in your diet for a balanced intake:
Nuts are a fun element to add to any meal. They introduce a crunch into every bite and are great to use as a garnish or even to saute and include in the main preparation. Almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, etc. are extremely high in magnesium and are a good way to introduce the mineral into your diet. Other than the fact that they are rich in magnesium, nuts are extremely resourceful for other nutrients and have several antioxidant properties. They also provide fiber and are known to be good sources of certain kinds of healthy fat.
Now you’ve been told to take your leafy greens ever since you were a kid, but it’s not always the most appetizing proposition. But these greens are a gold mine for magnesium. Leaves such as spinach, kale, turnip greens, etc. are extremely rich in magnesium. Other than magnesium, they are also rich in fiber, iron and several varieties of vitamins. You will be getting hitting birds with one stone if you manage to introduce a healthy dose of leafy greens into your diet.
Whole grains include a variety of foods like wheat, barley and even quinoa, which is known as a ‘pseudocereal’. Whole grains are not only excellent sources of magnesium but also have significant amounts of vitamin B, fiber, manganese, selenium, etc. Pseudocereals like quinoa are also said to be high in protein and various types of antioxidants. Pseudocereals also have the edge over traditional whole grains as they are gluten-free and can be consumed by everybody, including those with gluten sensitivity.
Several varieties of fatty fish are rich in magnesium. Fish like salmon, halibut, salmon, etc. pack significant amounts of magnesium and can make up for close to 15% of the RDA for magnesium. What’s more, fatty fish are also extremely high in protein as well as potassium, selenium, and various kinds of vitamins. The benefits of omega-3 fatty acids have also known to reduce the risk of heart disease, cholesterol, and other such cardiovascular issues in those prone to them. An out and out wonder of a food group that can be consumed in various preparations.
One of the most versatile fruits, bananas are delicious, fibrous, and full of health benefits. While bananas are known for their high potassium content, they are also rich in magnesium and several other nutrients. One banana with your breakfast cereal in the morning could account for nearly 10% of your RDA for magnesium. They are also rich in vitamin C, vitamin B6, and manganese. While ripe bananas may not be suitable for those with diabetes as they are high in sugar and carbohydrates, unripe bananas have resistant starch, the carbs in which do not get absorbed and digested. They can easily be cooked like any other vegetable and are a delicious, experimental way to eat the fruit.
Side Effects of Magnesium
Now while we have spoken about the great benefits of magnesium, there are some potential side effects to be noted if the magnesium content in your bloodstream is too high. It is best to consult a doctor before taking a magnesium supplement that has a higher content than the RDA. Some possible side effects of excess magnesium could be:
It is recommended that pregnant and nursing women keep their daily intake to 350 mg and not more. People with bleeding disorders, kidney problems, and heart blockage should also consult a doctor before taking supplements.
Magnesium is also known to interact with certain medications. If you’re already taking those medications, you may want to consult with a doctor about your recommended dosage. The following are some common medications that interact with magnesium:
- Anticoagulation medicine
- Diabetes medications
- Medications for blood pressure
- Muscle relaxants
Finally, the benefits of magnesium in inducing sleep and improving the quality of sleep have been discussed. But the macro-mineral has several other benefits too that make it one of the most crucial elements to have in the body. Magnesium deficiency is a very common condition and is especially rampant in societies that follow a Western diet rich in processed and frozen foods. So if you have been having trouble sleeping or are feeling generally unfocused, tired or anxious, perhaps your body is not absorbing enough magnesium. Now you know what to do to fix it.