Amongst other things, magnesium can:
- Relieve anxiety
- Treat restless leg syndrome
- Help with treatment-resistant depression
- Prevent diseases of the heart and blood vessels
- Reduce symptoms of ADHD
- Relieve constipation and act as an antacid
- Prevent diabetes by increasing insulin sensitivity
- Keep your bones healthy–especially if you don’t eat dairy
Some of the best food sources of magnesium are things we don’t eat enough of–but in case you were looking for another reason to eat dark chocolate, you just found one! Stick to raw cacao or unsweetened cocoa to avoid the sugar rush though.
If you’re thinking of supplementing magnesium, there are a few considerations. First, you want a product that is bioavailable. Typically, magnesium chloride, lactate, citrate and glycinate have good absorption in the body. Second, you want one that will work with your “digestive tendencies.” Magnesium citrate gets the bowels moving and is therefore good for relieving constipation and will likely worsen diarrhea. Magnesium glycinate is extra gentle on digestion if you tend to have loose stools already.
If you’d like to find out whether or not you’re deficient in magnesium (or any other nutrient!), try out a Spectracell test. Although it’s not usually covered by insurance, it goes a step further than typical blood tests by seeing how much of a given nutrient actually got into your cells for usage. The test costs $373 and is available with most integrative medicine practitioners. For those of you in Chicago, check out WholeHealth Chicago or the Raby Institute. If you have significant difficulty with nutrient absorption due to digestive issues, you may want to talk to you doctor about transdermal magnesium supplementation.
Heather Shannon is a counselor and health coach working in private practice in Chicago. She works primarily with "Type A" clients and takes a holistic approach to counseling, incorporating nutrition and lifestyle education into her work with teens and adults.