Magnesium is known to relieve headaches, ease anxiety, and even curb sugar cravings, but studies show that 68% of us don’t get enough of it. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has even placed magnesium on its short list of nutrients of concern for inadequate intake levels.
Nutritionist Ariane Hundt, M.S. says magnesium is one of the unsung heroes of nutrition. Along with calcium it is an essential nutrient for all cellular activity, but our bodies can’t make it by themselves. We need to consume it daily through food and beverages or find other ways to supplement the required daily 310-320 milligrams for women or 400-420 milligrams for men.
“Magnesium is often overlooked even though the majority of Americans don’t get enough of it,” Hundt says. “Stress can deplete magnesium levels and that can result in increased blood pressure and a rise in the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol.” She says adequate magnesium is also important for regular digestion, muscle activation, and energy production. It even plays a role in serotonin production, the neurotransmitter responsible for a balanced mood.
SWITCH UP YOUR SNACKING
Keri Glassman, RD, MS, CDN, and founder of Nutritious Life says her favorite way to get magnesium is the old-fashioned way: adding dark leafy greens like spinach, kale, and Swiss chard to her diet whenever possible. You can also nosh on broccoli, squash, nuts (particularly almonds), beans, as well as cacao powder. Here’s a magnesium-rich food chart for easy reference. It’s best if you can work these magnesium-rich foods into your regular diet routine.
“Almonds just happen to be my favorite go-to afternoon snack,” Glassman says. “But when in doubt, I also supplement my diet with magnesium as insurance. I often take a supplement right before bed as part of my bedtime routine.”
UPGRADE YOUR MINERAL WATER
If you love sparking water (and you’re willing to be parted from LaCroix), there’s an easy fix to taking in increased amounts of magnesium. Check your favorite mineral water to see if magnesium is one of the ingredients. For example, Gerolsteiner Sparkling Mineral Water is a natural source of magnesium. One liter of this mineral water provides about a third of the daily requirement of both calcium and magnesium for women, and a quarter for men, at 100 mg of magnesium per liter.
OPT FOR MAGNESIUM SUPPLEMENTS
Jeremy Wolf N.D., a lead wellness advisor for LuckyVitamin.com, explains that elemental magnesium can’t be in a pill by itself—it must be bound to another substance to help stabilize it. “The biggest difference in magnesium supplements isn’t the magnesium; it is the complexes that it is bound to,” he says. “Absorption of magnesium from different forms of supplements varies, and some of the molecules that magnesium is bound to may have their own function in the body.”
Popularly recommended options are magnesium citrate, magnesium gluconate, and magnesium lactate. Wolf suggests magnesium glycinate as one of the most absorbable forms—and one that is also easy on the stomach. Be sure to check with your doctor before you start. In addition, researchers from the University of Maryland Medical Center also recommend adding a B-vitamin complex, or a multivitamin containing B vitamins, with a magnesium supplement or dietary increase, since the level of vitamin B6 in the body determines how much magnesium will be absorbed into the cells.
HOP IN A HOT BATH
Magnesium has been popping up in beauty products like deodorant lately, but can you actually absorb it through your skin? Science says yes—but you shouldn’t rely on this method alone, as the absorption is minimal and unreliable.
Magnesium sulfate, or Epsom salts, can be added to a bath and absorbed, at least in some degree, through the skin, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. In addition to upping your magnesium intake, this method can be a big help with any swelling, inflammation, or muscle aches and pains—plus it just feels nice.
The jury is out on whether other types of magnesium, like the magnesium hydroxide natural deodorant company PiperWai uses in its formula, can also be absorbed by your body, but it’s certainly not doing you any harm, and it can help your BO. Founder Jess Edelstein explains that because of its alkaline pH, magnesium is super-effective as an odor and sweat reducing deodorant.