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Find out how magnesium can support your fitness goals and improve your overall health.

It’s been called the single most important nutrient for human health by doctors and nutritionists, yet it’s also one of the most understood. It’s magnesium, and although it occurs naturally in the human body and in food, many of us need more of it.

What is magnesium?

A recent story in the Washington Post cited magnesium as a magic mineral that helps with nearly all aspects of fitness, such as energy, muscle strength, flexibility, sleep and even stress management. And that’s because magnesium is everywhere.

Magnesium is an abundant mineral in human beings, which plays a part in more than 300 biochemical reactions within the body. For instance …

  • Magnesium helps the body build muscles and it loosens tight muscles.
  • Magnesium helps to balance stress hormones.
  • Magnesium contributes to healthy sleep.
  • Magnesium supports heart health.

In addition to the human body, magnesium is also present naturally in many foods and can be found in supplements and medications.

To find out more from an expert, 24Life asked Cynthia Pasquella, celebrity holistic nutritionist and author of “5 Toxic Emotions that Lead to Bad Food Choices” her thoughts on this important mineral.

24Life: Why do you think so many people are deficient in magnesium?

Cynthia Pasquella (CP): Some experts have estimated that nearly 80 percent of the population is deficient in magnesium (making it one of the most common nutritional deficiencies in the developed world). There are a lot of reasons why, including stress, eating nutrient-poor foods and high sugar intake.

The recommended dietary allowance (or RDA) of magnesium for adults is around 400-420 mg for men and 320-360 mg for women, with difference allowances for women who are pregnant or lactating.

24Life: Are magnesium supplements beneficial? What are the qualities of a good magnesium supplement?

CP: Magnesium supplementation can be very beneficial. One of my favorite things to do is take Epsom salt baths, which actually helps raise magnesium levels and relax sore muscles. Another option for supplementation is taking a magnesium glycinate or citrate, which are both typically well absorbed.

24Life: Why should people be cognizant of their magnesium intake?

CP: Because magnesium deficiency is so popular, and because magnesium is so important, everyone should be aware of whether or not they are getting enough. You also want enough magnesium, because it’s proven to reduce stress and anxiety, help with sleep and relaxation, ease headaches and restore energy levels. Magnesium is actually used up by the body in times of stress, so you may notice yourself experiencing symptoms like tense or twitching muscles if you are deficient.

24Life: How do you ensure you get enough magnesium in your daily diet?

CP: Choosing magnesium-rich foods can help to ensure you get enough of the nutrient. Some great food sources for magnesium include spinach and other leafy greens, pumpkin seeds, almonds and seaweed. As an example, one cup of dry roasted almonds has 80 mg of magnesium, which is about 20 percent of your recommended daily amount.

By the way, if you notice you are craving chocolate, your body may just need magnesium. Nibbling on a piece or two of dark chocolate can be a delicious way to give yourself a little magnesium love.

The answer is clear, this magic mineral is worth the effort. Grab a banana, hop in an Epsom salt bath and enjoy all the benefits.

Read more about Cynthia Pasquella here and here.

Photo credit: Thinkstock, iStock simonidadjordjevic.