By Dr. Meghan Bauer, ND

Magnesium is readily available in food yet most people still have a deficiency and don’t even realize it.  You know those twisting foot or calf cramps in the middle of the night? They’re trying to tell you something.  Actually, they’re trying to tell us something – I get them all the time!  I’ve been getting the toe scrunching, tightening, overlapping type as long as I can remember.  I used to swim competitively and my coach didn’t believe me when I had to stop every workout (x3) and stretch out my toes.  All I needed was a little magnesium, or likely a lot of magnesium!

Magnesium is necessary for over 300 functions in the body; it is involved in protein synthesis, muscle and nerve function, bone formation, energy production, sugar balance and maintenance of a healthy heart among many other functions. (nih.gov, 2014)  With intense workouts I was likely monopolizing my circulating magnesium for energy production at the expense of muscle relaxation.  Hence the cramping muscles.

Magnesium makes us feel relaxed on all levels; mind, body and soul.  It relaxes our muscles, it relaxes our bowels, and it relaxes our mind.  A perfect combination for a good night’s sleep.  Although, do watch out for that second one as there is such a thing as taking too much magnesium and reaching what is called “bowel tolerance.” With that said optimizing magnesium with diet or a supplement is an easy, safe and effective way to calm before bed and make for a deep, relaxing and restorative sleep.

With relaxation, energy, muscles, nerves, sugar balance, heart function and bone growth as magnesium’s top priorities the symptoms of a deficiency can be unclear and easily undiagnosed.  Here’s a list of the top symptoms associated with a mild to moderate magnesium deficiency:

¥ Hyper-excitability
¥ Muscle symptoms; cramps, tremors, twitches, spasms, weakness, (eye twitches!)
¥ Fatigue
¥ Loss of appetite
¥ Confusion
¥ Apathy
¥ DIFFICULTY SLEEPING
¥ Irritability
¥ Poor memory

As well as specific symptoms that speak to a magnesium deficiency there are a host of conditions that have been associated with a magnesium deficiency:

¥ Anxiety & Depression
¥ INSOMNIA
¥ Hormone imbalance and PMS
¥ Chronic fatigue syndrome
¥ Constipation
¥ Tension and/or migraine headaches
¥ Osteoporosis
¥ Type II diabetes
¥ Heart attack

Often times a magnesium supplement is needed to optimize healthy levels if a deficiency state with symptoms has been reached.  Ideally though, we get all the magnesium we need from our diet!  Enter, leafy green vegetables and chocolate.

Here’s a list to support the last two lists.  These magnesium rich foods will do the trick if eaten regularly; 2-3 servings/day.

(Men RDA 400 milligrams and Women RDA 310 milligrams a day)

1 Spinach — 1 cup: 157 milligrams (40% DV)
2 Chard — 1 cup: 154 milligrams (38% DV)
3 Pumpkin seeds — 1/8 cup: 92 milligrams (23% DV)
4 Yogurt or Kefir — 1 cup: 50 milligrams (13% DV)
5 Almonds — 1 ounce: 80 milligrams (20% DV)
6 Black Beans — ½ cup: 60 milligrams (15% DV)
7 Avocado — 1 medium: 58 milligrams  (15% DV)
8 Figs — ½ cup: 50 milligrams (13% DV)
9 Dark Chocolate — 1 square: 95 milligrams (24% DV)
10 Banana — 1 medium: 32 milligrams (8% DV)

Luckily for us this list is full of some delicious foods!  Do you need to optimize your magnesium and how are you going to do it?  Please feel free to share any magnesium rich recipes!  Does chocolate, avocado ice cream exist?