When it comes to stress, there are multiple factors that can play a role but one area that is sometimes overlooked is nutritional deficiencies. When working with patients who are experiencing symptoms that can be caused by stress, I’ll run a series of labs to rule out various physical causes. If their labs come back normal, I’ll take a closer look at a patient’s life including their eating and nutritional habits.
In some cases, a deficiency in Magnesium can result in individuals’ increased stress and anxiety. Let me explain.
Magnesium is a mineral found in the earth, sea, plants, animals and humans. Magnesium is important for many processes in the body, including regulating muscle and nerve function, blood sugar levels, and blood pressure and making protein, bone, and DNA. (Source: National Institutes of Health).
In addition, Magnesium plays a role in activating our body’s parasympathetic nervous system, which tells your body that ‘everything is okay’ and promotes relaxation. You can feel the effects of the parasympathetic nervous system when you take deep breaths – that too will help put your body into a calm state. Magnesium also influences the activity of GABA, the main inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain that is intricately involved in anxiety.
Other benefits of magnesium:
- Neutralizes stomach acid
- Helps with brain health
- Good for bone health and can help prevent osteoporosis
- Helps the body break down sugars and might help reduce the risk of insulin resistance (a condition that leads to diabetes)
A deficiency in magnesium can cause:
- Loss of appetite
- Nausea or vomiting
- Fatigue and weakness
- Muscle contractions and cramps
- Personality changes
- Abnormal heart rhythms
While more studies are needed, magnesium has been shown to help reduce headaches, including migraines. A lack of magnesium has also been linked to a greater risk of depression.
How much magnesium do you need per day?
According to the National Institute of Health, women need 310-320 mg per day while men need 400-420 mg.
Source of magnesium include:
- Legumes, nuts, seeds, whole grains
- Green leafy vegetables (such as spinach)
- Fortified breakfast cereals and other fortified foods
- Milk and yogurt
While it’s best to obtain your minerals and vitamins from food sources, you can take a supplement if you feel you are deficient.
If you have facing chronic stress, I encourage you to incorporate strategies that promote stress reduction to help you achieve a healthier life. Your nutritional intake should also be a consideration including a possible deficiency in magnesium. Relax Well!
Please note: This information is for educational purposes – before taking any supplement including magnesium talk with your doctor.