It’s that time of day again, maybe that time of the month, or maybe that time of the year (Easter) when your craving for chocolate arises and nothing else will do. But with your Spring health routine starting – what can you do about it?
Although cocoa is touted as healthy because of its antioxidant properties, most of us experience guilt or frustration when we give in to our cravings for rich, delicious chocolate. Well, feel guilty no longer, there may be a solution for you—and it’s as simple as a magnesium supplement that has no calories at all. But – pay attention to your cravings! They are a very good sign magnesium is just what your body needs since chocolate is, in fact, one of our richest dietary sources.
Studies have found, and my clinical experience has confirmed, that chocolate cravings and PMS symptoms improve with daily magnesium supplements. But that’s not all this mineral can help you with…. keep reading to discover the many benefits of magnesium.
For a long time now it has been suggested that chronic fatigue syndrome is related to persistent magnesium deficiency, which may improve with magnesium supplements. Magnesium is a wonderful mineral that is involved in over 300 enzymatic reactions in the body. When we are magnesium deficient, our bodily functions slow down at the cellular level, causing everything to become sluggish until eventually physical or mental fatigue eventually ensues.
Eases anxiety, improves sleep and stabilizes mood
Individuals with anxiety have been found to have lower levels of magnesium. This may be linked to the fact that a magnesium deficiency causes the release of adrenalin. Also, other studies have found that magnesium supplements reduce the release and effect of stress hormones on the heart, which is an indirect measure of the mineral’s effect on the brain.
In the elderly, magnesium supplements were found to improve sleep by decreasing the release of the stress hormone cortisol, which is known to cause sleep disruption. Magnesium glycinate (400 to 600mg) at bedtime is my favourite starting place for most cases of sleep disruption, for all ages.
Reduces muscle cramping
Ever get those irritating little twitches in your eyelid? Or maybe painful muscle cramping, waking you at night or ruining your workout? These are both possible signs of magnesium deficiency since it is closely involved in proper muscle relaxation and contraction. Try taking 200 to 600mg of magnesium at bedtime and you may be surprised at how quickly these symptoms may respond to your efforts.
Athletes can be especially prone to magnesium loss from sweating. Meanwhile, an athlete prone to loose stools will have an even greater risk of deficiency. I once treated an adventure racer with this exact condition. He used to develop cramps so severe; his teammates would have to carry him during competitions. I fixed his digestive issues, supplemented minerals and he was back in action in no time. I recommend mineral supplement containing magnesium and foods high in the mineral like seeds, nuts and green leafy veggies to all of my athletes to maintain their performance.
Magnesium and blood pressure
Evidence suggests that magnesium may play an important role in regulating blood pressure, due to its natural muscle relaxant ability. When blood vessels are relaxed there is less resistance to the flow of blood and as a result, lower blood pressure.
Diets that provide high sources of potassium and magnesium—such as those that are high in fruits and vegetables—are consistently associated with lower blood pressure. The DASH study (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) suggested that high blood pressure could be significantly lowered by consuming a diet high in magnesium, potassium and calcium, and low in sodium and fat. In another study, the effect of various nutritional factors on high blood pressure was examined in over 30,000 U.S. male health professionals. After four years of follow-up, researchers found that a greater magnesium intake was significantly associated with lower risk of hypertension. The evidence is strong enough that the Joint National Committee on Prevention, Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Pressure recommends maintaining an adequate magnesium intake as a positive lifestyle modification for preventing and managing high blood pressure.
Magnesium and heart disease
Magnesium deficiency can cause metabolic changes that may contribute to heart attacks and strokes, while higher blood levels are associated with a lower risk of these conditions. There is also evidence that low body stores of magnesium increase the risk of abnormal heart rhythms, which in turn may increase the risk of complications associated with a heart attack.
Magnesium and osteoporosis
Calcium isn’t the only mineral we need for strong, healthy bones – it appears a magnesium deficiency may also be a risk factor for osteoporosis. This may be due to the effect of magnesium deficiency on calcium metabolism and the hormone that regulates calcium balance in the body. I normally recommend 600 to 800mg of magnesium along with 1000 to 1200mg of calcium daily to all adults to treat and prevent bone density loss.
Magnesium and diabetes
Magnesium is important to carbohydrate metabolism. It may influence the release and activity of insulin, the hormone that helps control blood glucose levels. Elevated blood glucose levels increase the loss of magnesium in the urine, which in turn lowers blood levels of magnesium. This explains why low blood levels of magnesium are seen in poorly controlled type 1 and type 2 diabetes. These low levels of the mineral may also contribute to hypertension commonly found with many diabetics.
Okay, if, after all of this fantastic news about magnesium, you just can’t get past your chocolate craving, then at least choose the best chocolate. Look for a minimum 70% or more cocoa solids. It’s the healthiest way to satisfy a craving for chocolate, without consuming all the sugar and saturated fat common with milk chocolate.