Magnesium is a vital nutrient for our bodies and yet most of us are not getting enough. In addition to this massive deficiency, most of us are unaware of the impact proper magnesium intake can have on our weight. Here’s what you need to know:
What does Magnesium Do?
Magnesium is a bit of a powerhouse nutrient and affects almost every organ in our body! Magnesium helps with all of our basic nerve and muscle functions, it helps us create energy for the body, and it assists with digestion- specifically making sure our bodies can use the nutrients from our food. In addition, magnesium is involved in over 300 different chemical reactions in our bodies. Magnesium is basically a part of everything that’s going on in your body! But the way it influences your body weight is somewhat indirect and has to do with some of its chemical reactions.
How does Magnesium Influence My Weight?
* Insulin/Blood Glucose- Insulin is a hormone that regulates the amount of glucose (sugar) in the blood. Magnesium helps insulin move glucose into cells to be able to use that glucose for energy (instead of storing it as fat). Ultimately magnesium helps to increase our sensitivity to insulin which makes it work better to keep us burning glucose instead of holding on to it and increasing our waist line. Further, it is through this mechanism that magnesium can even prevent diabetes and reverse pre-diabetes
* Stress/Cortisol-Stress and weight gain often go hand-in-hand. It is very common that people go for food to sooth in times of high stress or anxiety. In addition, when stress is high, your body releases and abundance of the hormone, cortisol which can cause abdominal weight gain. One huge benefit of magnesium supplementation is its role as a natural anxiety-reducer. It essentially deactivates the impact of stress on the body by relaxing our muscles and turning off our fight-or-flight reaction. So it keeps cortisol levels at bay and calms us to a point where we hopefully don’t need to reach for the cookies to self-sooth. 🙂
* Sleep- I have written previously about the significant role that sleeps plays in maintaining healthy weight. A good nights sleep regulates all of the hormones involved in appetite, including leptin, ghrelin, insulin, and cortisol. And magnesium can play a key role in ensuring you get a good night’s sleep and that these hormones regulate themselves appropriately during that time. That is because it is a natural relaxant and because it is involved in so many hormonal reactions. And the added bonus of a good nights sleep should never be overlooked!
How do I get More Magnesium?
The recommended daily allowance of magnesium is about 400-420 mg/day for men and 310-320 mg/day for women.
There are many food sources rich in magnesium. Among them are the following:
Dark, Leafy Greens- Swiss Chard (150 mg/cup), Spinach (24 mg/cup)
Beans- Soybeans (108mg/cup) Lima Beans (80mg/cup)
Nuts- Almonds (75mg/1 oz), Cashews (73 mg/1 oz)
Seeds- Pumpkin (73 mg/1 oz), Sunflower (64 mg/1 oz)
Fish- Halibut (91 mg/3 oz), Mackerel (83 mg/3 oz)
Unfortunately, over the last 50 years or so, magnesium levels in our food have been continually reduced due to processing and soil conditions. So, for many of us, it will be difficult to get the necessary amount of magnesium through diet alone. If you want to supplement with magnesium, you can take pills, Epsom Salt baths, or use sprays. Epsom salt baths are a great way to increase your magnesium intake as the magnesium in Epsom salt is easily absorbed through your skin. If you are using pills or sprays, be wary as magnesium can come in many different forms- Magnesium theonate and citrate are general the best absorbed and most effective while glycinate is usually the best form for sleep support.