New research into magnesium caught my eye recently: supplements helped half the women in a trial to reduce hot flashes.

It’s the latest in a long list of ways that magnesium supplements can help women feel better.

Quick facts: magnesium is the eighth most abundant element in the earth’s crust and if you did chemistry in school you’ll remember that on its own, it’s highly reactive and burns with a white flame. It also makes friends easily with other elements because it’s highly reactive.

When I was running marathons (and sweating a lot) I found magnesium supplements made me feel amazing. When I had Epsom salt baths (which is magnesium you absorb through the skin) or took a supplement, I felt amazingly refreshed. These days I take a supplement after a hard training day (when the weights have been heavier than usual) because I think it helps me avoid muscle soreness (but that’s hard to quantify).

Your body contains 25g of magnesium, kept in bones and soft tissue. It has a role in about 300 different bodily processes (which makes it as ubiquitous to body functions as estrogen!) Being low in magnesium can be a risk factor in heart disease, osteoporosis, depression, migraines and sleep problems.

Gastrointestinal problems, being older and having type 2 diabetes might make us low in magnesium; these conditions mean we can absorb less magnesium than we need. So can alcohol and possibly caffeine.

Magnesium comes in bananas, dried apricots, avocados (yay!), almonds, cashews, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, spinach legumes, soy, whole grains and milk. If you live in a hard water area and drink tap water, you’ll likely have more magnesium in your system than if you drink soft water. Good for washing your hair, not so good for combatting brain fog.

Like all supplements, you can take too much, and the symptoms are a laxative effect. Avoid them if you have kidney problems.

So do you need a magnesium supplement? I’m not a nutritionist, and I’ve told you my personal experience and why I take magnesium a couple of times a week. The recommendation for women is 310-320mg a day, if you’re counting, and supplements come in several different compounds, depending on why you’re taking them.


Elspeth Alexandra - Women's Health Coach in Edinburgh

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