It’s not fair to have favourites but if I had to pick my most appreciated mineral, Magnesium is first across the line every time. Magnesium is a critical co-factor in more than 300 enzymatic reactions in the human body!
As a dancer we use up so many minerals through the huge amount of physical exercise – imagine how many muscle contractions are happening throughout your dancing day?! A three act ballet?! Millions and millions! Minerals such as magnesium are what keeps our muscles strong and loose, which is exactly what we want as dancers.
But it’s not just dancers or athletes that benefit from Magnesium. Everyone needs Magnesium and never more than now in today’s highly stressed society.
Magnesium is an essential mineral required by every organ in the body for a range of activities including bone, protein and fatty acid formation. It is also essential in activating vitamins B and D, relaxing muscles, regulating calcium levels and helping blood to clot and is required for the secretion of insulin. Many of us do not get enough magnesium through our diet alone and can really benefit from supplementation.
What a lot of people don’t realise though, is that magnesium is also hugely used up through any type of stress on the body, including mental and emotional stress on the body. Now, it’s no surprise that in today’s 24/7 world, where being highly stressed is almost seen as a prized possession, magnesium is being depleted in everyday life too. Our soils are also now lacking this critical mineral along with other trace minerals which is traditionally where we get these essential minerals from.
As a dancer, I find Magnesium to be the one absolutely critical nutrient to ensure adequate supplementation. It helps create energy in your body by activating ATP, basically the energy currency of life. It supports your adrenal system, your fight or flight response, it helps keep you away from anxiety and depression.
If I’m low in Magnesium, I know it very quickly. My muscles feel tighter, I cramp more, I can’t feel the fluidity when my muscles are working, everything moves a bit slower and I mean everything (!) I can’t focus as well, concentrate and I have troubles sleeping. Yes, magnesium helps you sleep!
It’s also a precursor to neurotransmitters such as serotonin, a chemical that has huge amounts to do with mood balance – it makes you feel good and have restful sleep. It seems counter-intuitive that you can have energy and sleep well, but when our body is in good balance it can achieve both these energy states with ease. Balance is the key.
As with other electrolytes, magnesium and calcium dance in a delicate pas de deux. They both need each other to perform their best – to put it simply, calcium causes muscles to contract and magnesium ensures they don’t spasm.
Magnesium can be found in just some of the following foods –
- dark green leafy vegetables
- nuts and seeds
- some whole grains like brown rice and quinoa
There is a reason women crave chocolate before their period, it’s a magnesium craving as your body needs more magnesium between the middle of your cycle and menstruation. Newsflash girls – Magnesium will help those other unfriendly PMS symptoms of anxiety, fluid retention, constipation, sore breasts and insomnia – make conscious effort to eat more of those foods listed above and look at starting a good magnesium supplement.
In my experience, it works best for me to ensure adequate calcium through my diet but to always supplement with high quality Magnesium. I take more magnesium when I am dancing but even when I’m on holidays, I monitor how my body is feeling in terms of how much Magnesium I need.
I have tried several magnesium supplements both tablets and powders, and the powders are definitely a winner for optimal absorption. That said, I often use a magnesium powder at night before bed and use the tablets in the morning so I’m not guzzling too much liquid before an early morning Pilates class or ballet class. Both work well though when they are high therapeutic grade supplements from a Practitioner brand – see your Naturopath or head to a Health Food Store to see a Naturopath for free there to sort you out.
Bioceuticals Ultramuscleze is my absolute favourite and the Forest Berries flavour tastes good too (I’ve never been a fan of orange flavoured things!). This formula also includes a range of B vitamins, co-factors and other trace minerals for optimal absorption. I have tried other brands but this seems to be the most effective for my body, I can feel the difference and your body’s wisdom is the highest kind.
Unfortunately the cheapest form of magnesium, magnesium oxide, is also the least easily absorbed version, just 4% goes into your cells which is where you want it to be to create cellular awesomeness. I advise high quality practitioner range products, it is definitely worth the extra investment. You will feel the difference.
Other ways to get the benefits of Magnesium –
- Epsom Salt Baths or Magnesium Bath Salts
- Ancient Minerals Magnesium Oil
- Ancient Minerals Magnesium Lotion
- Natural Hot Springs which are full of natural minerals like Magnesium
- Electrolyte drinks like Ultima Replenisher – I write about this here
To healthy muscles, healthy nerves, a balanced body and restorative sleep!