The Super Mineral
Personal experience y’all!!! I recall just not feeling right…sluggish, depressed, dragging, just overall blah about everything!! And, I felt like I was leading such a healthy lifestyle. I worked out almost every day, I ate a very clean diet (had been vegan for over a couple years) and for God’s sake I meditated daily…. how could I not be feeling PERFECT?!?! But something was definitely off. To not feel enthusiasm for life, to feel funky about things that should make you happy and content…nope, not happening for me at the time. Certainly, I needed to get to the bottom of my issue and this quick bit isn’t meant to give you all the answers, but this is one part of the puzzle: MAGNESIUM!
Never, I repeat, never underestimate the power of your nutrition. We are what we eat. And what we eat determines our physical and mental well-being. Logically, there can be no other way. One may Band-Aid a poor diet with other lifestyle choices, but eventually health will not be maintained without acknowledging the quality of your intake. Magnesium is a critical mineral that is responsible for over 300 enzyme reactions and metabolic functions in our body. Running yourself low can and will create an unnecessary fog with quite possibly other dramatic side effects.
Where’s the Magnesium (MG)?
According to the FDA, 75% of Americans are significantly below (20%) or below (55%) the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of 420 milligrams. Our food supply and overall system of nutrient delivery to our kitchen table has suffered. Our soil is depleted of needed minerals due to poor farming practices and our general diet has so much processed foods that the minerals that are there get diluted at best. Seriously, how much minerals are in frozen chicken nuggets and microwaved white rice? But even when we do a good job of meal planning and appropriate grocery shopping, some behaviors can hurt our ability to get our required minerals.
No Magnesium (Mg); No Mental Health
So, what happens, you ask? Let’s look at the following:
a) Magnesium plays a major role in calming the nervous system due to it’s ability to block brain N-methyl D-aspartate receptors (NMDA), thereby inhibiting excitatory neurotransmission. In other words, it calms you. A lack of magnesium inhibits your ability to chill.
b) Treatment with magnesium supplements has been shown to induce rapid recovery from depression, improve symptoms of premenstrual syndrome, and reduce hyperactivity in children with ADHD.
Here’s why, magnesium aids in the conversion of tryptophan, an amino acid, to the neurotransmitter serotonin. And serotonin is responsible for what, you ask? The feeling of well being and happiness. Follow these sequences:
Low Magnesium = Low Serotonin = Lower Energy & Mood = Increased Depression!
Also (be sure to check out the prior blog on cortisol and stress),
Low Magnesium = Increased Insomnia = Lower Growth Hormone = Increased Cortisol = Increased Anxiety
And guess what? Up to 80% of your serotonin is produce in your digestive system, NOT your brain. Nutrition and mental health are extremely connected!!! Let’s consider a few behaviors that specifically hurt Magnesium absorption. This is not an exhaustive list, but it’s be a great start to reduce these immediately:
- Fatty and processed foods – reduces Mg absorption.
- Alcohol – drains Mg though urine.
- Medicines (including calcium supplements) – promotes Mg excretion.
- Stress – produces cortisol (see prior blog post).
No one said this would be easy, but this is your mental health. So how do we get magnesium into our system?
Know Magnesium; Know Mental Health
Let’s make this direct and easy. Your nutrition can easily manage your magnesium intake. Here are the top eight whole foods to obtain your daily target of 420mg (this is for men over the age of 30; for women, go with 320mg; for under age 30, go with just slightly less):
Serving Amount RDA
- Greens (Spinach/Kale) 1 cup 157mg 37%
- Seeds (Pumpkin/Chia) 1 oz 150mg 36%
- Legumes (Black Beans/Lentils) 1 cup 120mg 29%
- Nuts (Cashews/Almonds/Brazil) 1 oz 82mg 20%
- Whole Grains (Quinoa/Oats) 1 oz 65mg 15%
- Dark Chocolate (70%+) 1 oz 64mg 14%
- Avocado Med 58mg 14%
- Banana Large 37mg 9%
So how do we do it, in delicious manner?!?
Idea #1 – Fill your favorite container with 1 oz each of pumpkin seeds, cashews and dark chocolate chips. On a daily basis, take this to work as your “anti-anxiety” snack. This will fulfill 70% of your RDA.
Idea #2 – For dinner or lunch, have a large spinach salad with quinoa, black beans and avocado. 95% of your RDA!!!
Idea #3 – For breakfast, have a bowl of oatmeal (3 oz) with your favorite toppings and a banana. Fulfills 54% of your RDA.
This can be so simple, but requires intention and planning. But honestly, as easy as it is to do; it’s equally easy NOT to do. Which is why up to 75% of our population is magnesium deficient. And as I’ve, mentioned in my talks and other articles…how awesome is it to be running around your life surrounded by stressed out un-magnesium-nourished anxious people? No wonder people aren’t so nice to people these days!
Take your MEDS!
Our consistent mantra…Take Your MEDS (Meditation, Exercise, Diet, Sleep) daily. Magnesium falls into that “D” compartment and I trust you’ve found this information valuable and easy to begin practicing. More simple ideas to follow for managing your stress, anxiety and other life-limiting behaviors.