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Mind & Body

Everything you need to know about magnesium

What if one little pill could give you more energy, clearer skin and reduce your stress? That’s the promise of magnesium. Here’s what you need to know. By DANIELLE FOX

Beauty

You may have dabbled with magnesium, whether taking a pill, adding Epsom salts to your bath or applying it on your body, but it’s the one mineral we’re all most deficient in – the World Health Organization reports that 80% of us simply don’t consume enough. Here’s how – and why – to get your fix.

What does magnesium do?

Involved in over 300 chemical reactions in your body, magnesium provides energy, keeps cells healthy, regulates blood pressure and improves muscle and bone strength. Stress, caffeine, sugar and alcohol all lead to lower levels of magnesium, as do contraceptive pills and certain antibiotics.

What should we be looking for?

Mined all over the world from extinct lakes and seas from the Jurassic period, there are differing grades (or qualities) of magnesium, and experts advise looking for those of a medical, food or pharmacy grade.

What is the best way to take it?

Absorption is best through the skin, which is just as beneficial, if not more, than a supplement. You can get magnesium oils and sprays, or use Epsom salts (magnesium sulfate) in your bath – body brush beforehand to stimulate skin and open pores, then add two scoops to the water and soak for 20 minutes. If you’re short on time and in need of some muscle relief, spritz a magnesium oil directly onto where you’re aching and on the soles of your feet (the best place for quick absorption). If you want to up your magnesium intake through your diet, add brown rice, almonds (a handful is enough) and swiss chard to your meals. Opting for a supplement? Stick to 300mg per day.

Take it post-workout…

Magnesium relaxes the muscles and is very good at drawing out toxins, which you produce plenty of when you exercise. However, it is key for helping convert energy in the body, so you use up a lot when working out – it’s therefore vital to replace it straight after the gym.

…and before you sleep

It’s estimated that more than a third of us suffer from insomnia. Called the ‘anti-stress’ mineral, magnesium is well known for its ability to relieve sleeplessness and relax muscles and nerves. One study found that it helped to decrease levels of cortisol, the ‘stress hormone’ that can keep you up at night, while another study has also shown magnesium to have a positive effect on depression and mood.

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