Vitamins and Minerals – should you take them? How do you know which ones? It can be confusing and overwhelming not to mention expensive. I am going to take a look at the supplements I most regularly prescribe. Some are no brainers like Magnesium which I talk about here, check my blog for more.

Having a balanced diet is where good health begins, it should contain all of the nutrients we need for optimal health and wellbeing. However, most of us are vulnerable to nutritional deficiencies due to diminishing food quality, toxins and stress. So, supplements are essential health-boosters that fill in nutritional gaps and whilst they won’t make up for a bad diet, they can go a long way in helping to support good health and improve wellbeing. 

It is thought that around 60% of the Western world is deficient in Magnesium. Which in part is due to eating too many refined foods from which Magnesium – and other minerals, vitamins and fibre have been removed.

Magnesium is crucial for almost everything that goes on in the body, hundreds of chemical reactions depend on it. It helps convert food into energy, muscles need this to contract and relax, it regulates the central nervous system, it keeps the heart beating steadily, your immune system strong and plays a critical role in brain function and mood.

Signs that you maybe low in this essential mineral are depression, low energy levels and fatigue, constipation, elevated blood pressure, muscle cramps, migraines, anxiety and difficulty sleeping. Magnesium regulates the hormone melatonin, which signals the sleep-wake cycle in your body. It also binds to the neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric (GABA), which is responsible for soothing nerve activity, quieting the nervous system and helping to prepare your body and mind for relaxation and sleep.

Chronic long term Magnesium deficiency can result in more serious medical conditions and has been linked to inflammation which can lead to cardiovascular disease, diabetes, anxiety disorders, some cancers as well as osteoporosis. There is evidence that taking a magnesium supplement can reduce inflammation, support healthy blood glucose levels and improve insulin sensitivity, a pre cursor to Type 2 Diabetes.

Magnesium can have a positive effect on the hormone Oestrogen. It can be used for the treatment of PMS, PCOS and Menopause, by calming the central nervous system and reducing symptoms such as mood swings, bloating, fluid retention, period pain and hot flushes. Research shows it also supports the liver in promoting the healthy excretion of Oestrogen which may reduce the risk of conditions such as fibroids, breast and uterine cancer, all associated with excess Oestrogen.

Eating foods high in Magnesium should be your first approach, so including the following into your daily diet: nuts, seeds, dark leafy greens, mushrooms, tofu, egg yolk, avocado, bananas, whole grains and whole dairy foods.

Even with an adequate diet you may still be at risk of a deficiency especially if you have digestive disorders or are taking certain medications such as blood pressure tablets, anti-biotics and diuretics. Keeping an eye on symptoms or having a blood test can indicate whether a supplement could be useful.

So, in essence supplementing with Magnesium could reduce inflammation in its tracks and good things will follow, like reduction in pain and fatigue and improvements to mood and cognitive functions. It can boost sports and exercise performance, improve energy levels and can have a dramatic effect on improving anxiety and depression, improve blood glucose levels, promote healthy sleep, lower blood pressure and balance your hormones. A total winner in my book!

Ways to take Magnesium.

Magnesium citrate – this is one of the most common formulations, taken orally, it is bound with citric acid (found in citrus fruits) and is easily absorbed.

Magnesium oxide – not easily absorbed by the digestive tract, it is the main ingredient of milk of magnesia, so is commonly used as a treatment for occasional constipation and digestive problems.

Magnesium chloride or sulphate – a good topical treatment to relieve muscle soreness and improve skin conditions. Best used in the bath (Magnesium flakes or Epsom Salts) or as a cream or lotion

Always consult a healthcare professional before taking supplements.

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