My sister is lucky and has a beautiful bathroom with a big, deep bath in it, and so this week I ordered her a bulk order of Epsom Salts for her long, deep bath soaks. She knows, like most people, that they are a great way to relieve tired and aching muscles and bring on a great sleep. But what she doesn’t know is that Epsom salts are rich in magnesium, a mineral that can be poorly absorbed internally.
Magnesium is often deficient in our diets but soaking in a bath containing Epsom salts can be a way to boost your magnesium levels, because it is absorbed very easily through the skin.
Most of the population does not get enough magnesium. In 2000 the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (in USA) found that the figure of deficiency was as high as 80% of adults, a figure most likely mirrored here in Australia. This figure is significant because the mineral magnesium plays a part in thousands of functions in your body, and it is also one that is easily depleted. Also, deficiency is often not detected because it manifests differently in each individual.
The mineral magnesium, plays a vital role in building and maintaining good health, working in conjunction with many other nutrients, particularly calcium and Vitamin D.
Most people know that they need calcium. And there is also growing awareness of the importance of Vitamin D. But the third side of this triangle is perhaps not so widely known about. Magnesium also plays a part in this picture, and while magnesium deficiency is quite widespread due to deficient intake, it is frequently not addressed with diet or supplementation in the way that calcium is.
Magnesium, calcium and vitamin D work in unison in the body. All three require the others to actually do their job, and it does not matter if you are getting adequate amounts of one of them, without all three it will not be able to do its job. Which means taking calcium supplements without adequate magnesium is not much use. Your body needs about twice as much calcium as magnesium, but many people actually have much, much more calcium and many times less magnesium.
Magnesium is the fourth most abundant element in your body. It helps to regulate over three hundred enzymes, it plays a vital role in muscle control, in sending electrical impulses along the nerves, in energy production and also it assists in the elimination of toxins.
Many common diseases of our modern life can be rooted in a magnesium deficiency, and it can lead to heart disease, stroke, osteoporosis, arthritis and joint pain, digestive disorders, chronic fatigue, or illnesses resulting from stress. Magnesium deficiency has also been shown to contribute to SIDS. Long term chronic magnesium deficiency damage can even be fatal.
When we talk of muscles everyone usually thinks of those in the legs or back, and most people have experienced muscle cramps at some time, often in the legs or feet. But how many think of their heart as also being a muscle? Low magnesium levels can affect the efficient working of your heart, in the same way that they can lead to cramping of your leg muscles.
Here are some early symptoms of a magnesium deficiency:
- Muscle cramps, tremors & twitches
- Restless or fidgety legs
- Pain in the feet
Some other indicators of a possible magnesium deficiency:
- Migraines, cluster headaches
- Anxiety, stress & panic attacks
- Fatigue, sluggish
- Poor sleep & waking up tired – difficulty falling asleep or waking with muscle stiffness
- Low energy levels
- High blood pressure & cholesterol levels
- Period pain & PMS – deficiency can also lead to infertility and pregnancy problems
- Nervousness – heightened sensitivity to external stimuli like lights and noise, with exaggerated emotions
- Irritability of the nervous system – depression, restlessness, psychiatric conditions including bipolar and epilepsy.
- Kidney stones
- Poor memory & confusion
- Calcium or potassium deficiency
- Autism spectrum, ADD/ADHD, other neurological conditions
Magnesium can be obtained from a number of foods. Good sources of magnesium are
All information and opinions presented here are for information only and are not intended as a substitute for professional advice offered during a consultation. Please consult with your health care provider before trying any of the treatment suggested on this site.
The Magnesium Factor, Seelig, Mildred. 2003
- May I Have Your Attention Please? The Importance of Magnesium (bakingkookys.wordpress.com)
- 16 Signs You’re Magnesium Deficient – Symptoms of Low Magnesium Levels (naturalsociety.com)
- Managing Stress Naturally (purevitamins.com.au)