Magnesium and Brain Health; Evidence – Based Health Benefits
Most of us know that we need to have a balanced diet rich with various nutrients in order to be healthy. And we also know that the food we eat helps us with our brains as well as our bodies – you feel more awake and concentrated when you eat well, you don’t feel cranky and you’re generally in a better state of mind. But what you probably don’t know is that a lot of those benefits tie into one single nutrient: magnesium. It’s one of the most important “brainy” nutrients and here is exactly how it helps your mind:
Magnesium is a mineral that is absolutely crucial for a calm state of mind. It helps our nervous system operate smoothly and helps us relax. Physical and emotional stress – both of which are more and more present in our daily lives – drain our body of magnesium. Studies show that magnesium and cortisol (the stress hormone) are always directly disproportionate, and you have to keep your magnesium levels high so that you can fight off stress when it comes your way. Furthermore, researchers found that most young adults who suffer from depression have low magnesium levels, so much so that people with low magnesium have an 81% greater chance of being depressed. On a similar note, with people diagnosed with ADHD, low magnesium can trigger destructive symptoms like restlessness, anxiety and poor focus.
HELPS YOU SLEEP
Most of the hormones that help us function throughout the day are produced at night while we are sleeping, which is why a steady sleep cycle is crucial for both mental and physical health, and why we don’t feel good if we haven’t slept – no matter how awake the coffee makes us feel. Magnesium is crucial for the regulation of the hormone melatonin, which induces sleep and keep us sleeping until our body is rested enough. It also relaxes our muscles so that we don’t wake up during the night. If you find yourself having trouble sleeping or experiencing insomnia, you might just be lacking magnesium in your diet.
Anxiety is a state that originates from the brain but actually takes over our whole body: it creates tension in our gut, gives us headaches and tenses up our muscles involuntarily. Magnesium combats these symptoms on multiple levels: it helps digestion and relaxes tense muscles, while at the same time promoting the calm state of mind we mentioned before. Our cells use magnesium as fuel, so feeling anxious might be a good sign that you are lacking this mineral in your diet. Taking a natural magnesium supplement could help you feel calmer and avoid bursts of anxiety.
HELP WITH LEARNING
Whether you’re a student studying for an exam or a senior learning a new skill, magnesium helps us all gain and retain knowledge by enabling our nerves to transmit signals more effectively. It improves both short- and long-term memory and it has even been shown to improve the state of patients with Alzheimer’s disease. After the first symptoms have shown, patients who had their magnesium levels replenished and kept at a high level did not lose any further cognitive function. Some researchers believe that magnesium is at the heart of finding a cure from Alzheimer’s and even reversing its effects.
GOOD SOURCES OF MAGNESIUM
Magnesium can easily be found in a variety of foods that are very healthy for you and should be a part of your diet no matter what. These include leafy greens such as spinach or kale, fruits, nuts and green vegetables, but also some delicious options we all love like cacao and dark chocolate. Remember that alcohol, sugar and processed foods slow the absorption of magnesium, so try to cut those out, especially if you’ve been lacking this mineral. If for any reason you can’t eat the foods that are rich in magnesium, you should speak to your doctor about getting supplements that will top you up and keep you going.
We too often fail to pay attention to our diet and end up blaming our symptoms on things that don’t actually have anything to do with them. Some mood disorders and mental illnesses can’t be fixed by magnesium alone, but it can only be helpful with the symptoms, so why not give it a try?
Author Bio – Diana Smith is a full-time mom of two beautiful girls interested in topics related to health and alternative medicine. In her free time, she enjoys exercising and preparing healthy meals for her family.