Magnesium is a mineral that contributes to more than 300 bodily processes, including regulation of the cardiovascular system, muscle building, neurological function, and bone growth.
While it’s found naturally in foods like leafy greens, dark chocolate, avocados, cashews, and tofu, the average American diet doesn’t contain an optimum amount of magnesium. In fact, conservative studies estimate that 15 percent of the general population has a significant magnesium deficiency, which can manifest as anxiety, muscle spasms, fatigue, and insomnia.
There are several types of magnesium, some of which are more readily absorbed by the body than others. You can even get the benefits of magnesium by using it topically, like soaking in a tub with Epsom salts or applying magnesium oil to the skin. Keep in mind that you also need enough vitamin B6, vitamin D, and selenium in your diet in order to optimize absorption of magnesium.
Because magnesium is essential to so many bodily processes, it makes sense that a magnesium deficiency could contribute to trouble sleeping.
Magnesium needs to be a regular part of the diet in order to help with sleep. You can’t just pop the occasional vitamin before bed and expect to fall fast asleep.
Certain diseases, disorders, and medications make magnesium deficiency more likely. The recommended daily intake is 310 to 320 milligrams for women and 400 to 420 milligrams for men, but the full amount should not come from supplements. Naturally occurring dietary magnesium is more readily absorbed, and a healthy, balanced diet includes other vitamins and minerals that contribute to absorption.
While large amounts of food-based magnesium are safe, too much of a magnesium supplement can cause diarrhea and could even be toxic. If you have kidney disease or heart disease, check with your doctor before taking magnesium supplements.
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