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Magnesium: Expert discusses effects of mineral supplements

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Taking magnesium has become a “very popular” alternative for tackling anxiety – as well as related issues such as stress, insomnia and restless leg syndrome. And in recent years studies have shown the mineral has “calming” effects on people. Expert Dom Haines, the founder of Oxford Organics, spoke exclusively with Express.co.uk about how it works.

“It’s an essential mineral which means the body doesn’t produce it so we need to get it from external sources such as diet or supplements,” he said.

“It regulates neurotransmitters such as GABA, which helps to calm us.

“The exact mechanisms are yet to be fully confirmed by science but there are some good studies – the evidence is looking good but there still needs to be a bit more to go on.”

It is also effective for people who suffer with restless leg syndrome, a common condition of the nervous system that causes your legs to move and has been known to trigger mental illnesses like anxiety.

Dom explained: “Early research suggests there’s actually a magnesium deficiency that can cause restless leg syndrome.

“Researchers believe magnesium can make it easier to relax due to the regulation of neurotransmitters in the brain.

“Another reason they think it helps to block calcium and regulate nerves and muscles so if you have a magnesium deficiency it may allow excess calcium to trigger muscle contractions, moxifloxacin sinus infection getting them firing when you don’t really want them too. This can affect your sleep.”

When it comes to choosing a magnesium supplement there are multiple types to be found in health stores and online.

However, Dom warned that the cheapest and most widely found type – magnesium oxide – could have an unpleasant side effect.

He said: “It has quite a low bioavailability so the body doesn’t absorb it very well – studies suggest it’s as low as five percent.

“Really what it’s used for is a laxative. It helps to draw in water into the bowels so if you’re trying to get anti-anxiety or relief from restless legs, using magnesium oxide probably isn’t your first choice, but it’s so widely available you might pick it up without realising.

“The excess can draw in water and cause osmotic diarrhoea or lose the rest through urine – so it’s not really the best magnesium source to use.”

He recommended the use of magnesium glycinate as a more effective remedy for anxiety and other issues.

“If you’re looking for anxiety reduction with more of a calming effect, we prefer a magnesium glycinate compound – it’s the same magnesium but bound with an amino acid called glycine,” Dom commented.

“Glycine works well as a neurotransmitter to promote feelings of calm in the body and that can work in synergy with the magnesium.

“Additionally the magnesium becomes more bioavailable when paired with glycine because it makes the molecule more stable, more soluble and absorbable by the body.

“Studies also show the glycine form can lower the pH of intestines, which allows slightly greater absorbability.”

However, he advised initially trying to up your magnesium intake through food including:

  • Leafy greens, such as spinach
  • Avocado
  • Seeds and grains
  • Cashew nuts and almonds.

He added: “Always talk to your GP or a health advisor first if you do think you need supplements.”

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