Do you feel overwhelmed by supplements? If the answer is yes, you’re definitely not alone in the struggle. There are so many options—how do you know which ones to take? Walking down the supplement aisle or scrolling through pages (and pages!) of supplements on Amazon can make even the health savviest person’s head spin. The good news? There are a few supplements almost everyone can benefit from. One of them is a magnesium supplement, a mineral supplement that’s shown promise to help with anything from constipation and insomnia to headaches and anxiety.
Why do most of us need more magnesium? Certain lifestyle and environmental factors—like the nine you’ll find below—put the body’s magnesium levels at risk. Here’s why you almost definitely need to be supplementing with this important mineral…
9 Reasons To Consider A Magnesium Supplement
You’re stressed (and stressed often) | Magnesium plays an important role in the stress response. In fact, in the 2011 paper titled “Magnesium in the central nervous system,” the author wrote, ”Magnesium status is highly associated with stress levels, with both stress and hypomagnesemia [AKA, low levels of magnesium] potentiating each other’s negative effects.” In a classic snowball effect, being stressed can leave you at risk for magnesium deficiency, and magnesium deficiency can negatively affect the nervous system, making you more stressed.
You can’t live without your morning coffee | There’s nothing better than warm cup of coffee—or better yet, a Turkish latte with fresh mint and cardamom—first thing in the morning. But according to science, this daily ritual could put you at risk for magnesium deficiency. In an article published in Open Heart last year, caffeine is listed as one of the primary causes of magnesium deficiency. This connection is no reason to cut caffeine out of your life completely, but if you’re hitting the espresso shots pretty hard, you might want to consider adding some of these caffeine-free superfood lattes to your routine.
You aren’t eating enough high-magnesium foods | Magnesium is an essential mineral, which means we have to get it from our food because our body’s don’t make it on its own. Lucky for us, some of the best foods on earth—we’re talking dark chocolate, salmon, leafy greens, avocado and cashews—also happen to be rich in magnesium. Adult women should aim for about 315 milligrams of magnesium per day through diet.
Even If You are eating high-magnesium foods | While you’re diligent in piling your plate high with leafy greens, it’s still possible you aren’t getting enough magnesium. This is partly because of soil mineral depletion, which means the soil we grow our food in isn’t as rich in minerals as it used to be. Sadly, the leafy greens we eat today don’t have as much magnesium as they did 50 years ago.
You find yourself eating on-the-go | As a general rule, processed and packaged foods have less magnesium than fresh foods. In fact, according to a 2018 review paper on subclinical magnesium deficiency it was noted, “Processed foods, fat, refined flour and sugars are all devoid of magnesium, and thus our Western diet predisposes us to magnesium deficiency.” If you find yourself eating on-the-go on the reg, try packing snacks that are high in magnesium such as nut and seed butters or kale chips. Or, if you’re really feeling ambitious, combine the two and whip up this Kale Chips + Cashew Butter recipe.
You take a daily medication | Did you know that certain drugs can deplete the body of magnesium or prevent it from being absorbed in the first place? It’s true. According to the article “Subclinical magnesium deficiency: a principal driver of cardiovascular disease and a public health crisis,” just a few of these include antacids, proton pump inhibitors, diuretics and oestrogen therapy.
You enjoy happy hour on the reg | While the occasional glass of wine or cocktail is no big deal, more significant alcohol has been connected to lower levels of magnesium in the body. Alcohol acts acutely as a diuretic, “causing a prompt, vigorous increase in the urinary excretion of [magnesium],” according to a study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition. If you’re concerned about magnesium, becoming more aware of alcohol intake or experimenting with cutting back could make the difference.
You have digestive issues | GI disorders such as Crohn’s and celiac disease can lead to magnesium depletion. And if something is awry with your gut health, you might not be absorbing magnesium properly even if you are taking a supplement. If your GI issues are severe, an IV supplement—which are ever-growing in popularity—might be an option to discuss with your doctor.
You love carbs | This is a trick question because of course, we all love carbs. But according to a paper published in 2011, increased intake of carbohydrates is associated with reduced levels of magnesium. Focusing on carbohydrates that are also good sources of magnesium—like black beans or edamame—is a great way to get the best of both worlds.
With high stress levels, mineral depletion and no shortage of packaged foods, our modern lives contribute to the perfect storm for magnesium deficiency. Luckily, taking a magnesium supplement is often a quick, cheap and easy solution.