Getting the right amount of nutrients into our body is important for healthy functioning. One of the most essential of these nutrients is magnesium because it goes towards many different functions within the body. Therefore without enough magnesium, we can quickly start to feel ill both physically and mentally. Around 80 percent of us have a magnesium deficiency without even realising it – and the problem is that the majority of magnesium is stored in the bones not in the blood, so a deficiency can’t be detected on a normal blood test. The Importance of Magnesium in Our Diet Magnesium isn’t something we think about in terms of our health but scientific research 1 has found that there are almost 3751 magnesium ‘binding sites’ within the body meaning our bodies rely on optimal magnesium levels more than previously thought. Because of this, magnesium is essential for many functions within the body including: blood sugar control, nerve function, the regulation of blood pressure, metabolism, protein synthesis and neurotransmitter release which helps keep strong signals between neurons and other cells in the body. Therefore maintaining an optimal level of magnesium, especially through our diet, is extremely important if we want to stay healthy. Magnesium deficiencies can be caused by a number of factors and lifestyle choices. These include consumption of antibiotics, excess alcohol, excess sugar in the diet, consuming less than the recommended amount of daily fruit and vegetable servings and any digestion problems where nutrients from foods aren’t absorbed properly. But if you feel none of these apply to you, then your diet could just be lacking in enough magnesium. There are many foods you can include that will help up your magnesium levels and make a noticeable difference to your health. 1. Avocados Avocados are easy to incorporate into your diet and packed full of magnesium. Although high in fat, they contain monounsaturated fats which help lower bad cholesterol. 1 average avocado: 58 mg of magnesium 2. Bananas As well as potassium, bananas are another great source of magnesium. Getting a banana in to your daily breakfast, snack or post-exercise fuel will add to your magnesium levels. 1 medium banana (118g): 32mg magnesium 3. Mackerel Mackerel is an oily fish containing essential omega-3 fatty acids along with protein and B vitamins. It’s also pretty high in magnesium so buying well-sourced, fresh fillets will help your health in a number of ways. 1 (85g) fillet: 82mg magnesium 4. Dark Leafy Greens Dark leafy greens such as swiss chard and kale give a good daily dose of magnesium. However, spinach is especially good because it contains a plethora of vitamins and minerals including vitamin K, folate, vitamin E, C, B6, iron, protein and calcium. 180g cooked spinach: 157mg magnesium 5. Nuts and Seeds Snacking on nuts and seeds is probably the best way to get your full magnesium intake but be aware that more than a handful a day is not recommended due to their high fat content. Pumpkin seeds are one of the best sources of magnesium but nuts such as almonds, brazil nuts, cashews and pine nuts all contain high levels of magnesium. Pumpkin seeds (28g): 150mg magnesium 6. Whole Grains Whole grains are best known for their fibre content but they also contain essential minerals including iron, selenium and, of course, magnesium. Brown rice, wild rice, quinoa, millet and buckwheat are all good sources of whole grains and contain a good amount of magnesium. 195g cooked brown rice: 86mg magnesium 7. Dark Chocolate This will make any chocolate lover happy – dark chocolate is a pretty good source of magnesium but remember to eat it in moderation! 1 square of dark chocolate (29g): 95mg magnesium 8. Yoghurt Plain non-fat yoghurt (i.e. not the flavoured yoghurts that are high in sugar) can be an addition to your daily diet in order to get a bit more magnesium. Adding slices of banana and grated dark chocolate can make a great breakfast or dessert. 245g yoghurt: 47mg magnesium 9. Dried Fruit Dried fruit, especially figs, can contain good amounts of magnesium. Like nuts or seeds you can snack on these during the day. Dried prunes, apricots, dates and raisins are also good. 75g of dried figs: 51mg magnesium 10. Beans and Lentils Beans and lentils are a good all-round source of vitamins and minerals. On average they contain high amounts of dietary fibre, iron, protein, vitamin B1, zinc and potassium. Soy beans (or edamame beans) are particularly high in magnesium and a great addition to your daily veg intake or a snack. 172g (cooked) soy beans: 148mg magnesium
Muscle cramps can cause a lot of issues for sufferers. They can be very debilitating and in some cases can even pose a hazard. For example, you may be driving when these cramps strike, and if they affect your leg muscles your driving will naturally be affected. They can strike at night, which can cause issues with sleeping. They could even strike at work, which could pose another hazard depending on the type of work you do. Muscle Cramps = Uncontrolled Contraction of Muscles We need to learn how to tackle issues such as muscle cramps ourselves. To do this, it is important to have a better understanding of why muscle cramps occur and what might be causing them. In a nutshell, muscle cramps are caused by the involuntary contraction of muscles. They usually affect the calf muscles but they can strike elsewhere too. You may have heard these cramps referred to as ‘charley horses’. You will know when you experience a muscle cramp, as the muscles in the affected area become very tight, hard, and painful. You will actually be able to feel the spasms and the speed with which these cramps can strike can come as quite a shock. If you are a keen exerciser, you should bear in mind that cramps can occur many hours after exercising. Muscle Cramps Are Caused by Multiple Reasons There are a number of possible causes of muscle cramps, and it is important to familiarize yourself with these if you want to know how to prevent cramps. So, let’s take a look at some of the reasons why you may be experiencing cramps: Lack of circulation in the legs Exercising calf muscles too hard Failing to stretch and warm up before exercising Being too active when temperatures are high Being dehydrated Muscle fatigue A deficiency of magnesium, potassium, or both An underlying cause such as a spinal issue or nerve problem A side effect of taking certain medications Interestingly, muscle cramps are very common but they are most common at night when you are sleeping. According to reports, 75 percent of muscle cramps are experienced at night. By familiarizing yourself with the possible causes, you can take certain steps to prevent muscle cramps. This could include drinking more water, warming up before exercises, and putting less strain on the muscles. When Muscle Cramps Strike, These Easy Exercises Help One of the things you will be keen to learn if you suffer from muscle cramps is how to treat them. Of course, prevention is the best medicine, and this is something we will look at. However, if you are suffering from muscle cramps the first thing you need to know is what action you can take to treat them and alleviate the pain. Below are some of the key solutions for treating muscle cramps: Do some stretching When you get muscle cramps, your muscle goes into involuntary spasms. This causes a lot of tightening, discomfort, and strain. When these cramps strike, you can try stretching the area. Simply drop and stretch the affected area to try and alleviate the cramps. Better still, if there is someone there with you it is worth getting the area massaged. This can help to quickly alleviate the spasms and discomfort. Try to relax It is natural when muscle spasms strike to try and push through the pain. However, this can often make the problem worse. Instead, try to relax and let the pain ease away. Simply take a break and wait for the spasm to pass rather than to risk making it worse by battling with it. Speak to your pharmacy You may find that anti-inflammatory treatments can help to tackle muscle spasms 2 . It is therefore worth taking a quick trip to the pharmacy to see if they can recommend anything. Some of the treatments available over the counter at pharmacies can help to ease the soreness that stems from muscle cramps. These are some of the simple but effective ways in which you can quickly treat muscle cramps and alleviate some of the symptoms.