Magnesium is an essential electrolyte required by the body for correct muscle, nerve, and enzyme function. The magnesium ions regulate over 300 biochemical reactions in the body. Some of the important physiological processes that require magnesium include:

  • Depression
  • Psychoses
  • Stress
  • Headache
  • Cognition
  • Pain management

Magnesium deficiency

Almost 50% of the population in developed countriesare deficient in magnesium. The situation is exacerbated when you consider that magnesium is required to metabolise sugar, therefore, the magnesium reservoir is used up quickly if your diet contains a lot of refined sugar. In addition, acid rain reduces the magnesium content of crops, and along with increased consumption of processed foods, this further contributes to low magnesium content in ourdiet. As magnesium modulates various neurobiological mechanisms e.g. neurotransmitter systems and the HPA axis, therefore, if the magnesium reservoir is depleted this can induce stress and anxiety.

Magnesium and Stress

We know biochemically that magnesium modulates the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis so a magnesium deficiency can induce anxiety, stress and possibly adrenal fatigue.

Foods high in magnesium are:

  • Green leafy vegetables (cooked)
  • Green peas
  • Beets
  • Broccoli
  • Coconut
  • Spinach (cooked)
  • Avocado
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Dandelion greens
  • Raisins
  • Blackberries
  • Orange juice (fresh-squeezed)
  • Whole wheat

It is also important that you cook your food correctly. For example, research has shown that French beans, broad beans, and peas boiled for eight to twelve minutes can lead to around 20-30% magnesium loss.

Chocolate Craving

As chocolate is high in magnesium, it explains why some people who crave chocolate may have low magnesium. It is not just a coincidence that some people crave chocolate when stressed or have PMS or when pregnant.This is because magnesium levels fluctuate during the menstrual; cycle; the higher the oestrogen or progesterone the lower the magnesium. Therefore, Complementary and Alternative medicine practitioner, functional medicine doctors, and integrative medicine doctors prescribe magnesium supplements to help avoid such cravings.

What You Need to Know About Magnesium Supplements

It is important to use a good magnesium nutritional supplement. There are many cheap brands found in supermarkets and many of these will have extremely low bio-availability, i.e. poorly absorbed by the body. A case in point is magnesium Oxide, these supplements have the highest elemental magnesium of 60% but whether it be in an effervescent tablet form or capsule, magnesium oxide supplements have very poor bio-availability of only 4%. So, while Magnesium oxide supplements are the cheapest they are limited in their action.

As there over a dozen forms of Magnesium supplements available on the market, it is highly recommended that you consult your Complementary and Alternative medicine practitioner or integrative medicine doctor for advice or purchase a ‘magnesium complex’ that uses premium quality ingredients providing good absorption. However, it is recommended that magnesium aspartate and magnesium glutamate supplements are avoided if you suffer from depression.