Nutrition Expert’s Tip of the Month – March

The Tension-Relieving Benefits of Magnesium

Magnesium is a mineral that few people know about, many overlook it, and actually may be the most undervalued mineral. As we have mentioned before, stress increases our need for many nutrients because it robs our cells of our nutrient stores. In other words, it is as if we keep making bank withdrawals from our nutrient bank account, but make very few deposits. This is especially true with the mineral magnesium (Mg).

Magnesium is required for enzyme activation as well as for direct muscle and nerve relaxation. So when we are chronically stressed, our magnesium is constantly depleted, increasing our chances for muscle tension and low enzyme activity. When our enzyme function is low, we have a harder time making energy, digesting the foods we eat, fighting the effects of stress, and repairing cell damage. In other words, you want your enzyme function to be high so that your body can function optimally and you can feel and do your best in school.

Something you should know about magnesium, is that a high fat diet decreases its absorption. So in times of stress, tension and anxiety, you don’t want to be eating foods like fried chicken, French fries and ice cream. These high fat foods will exasperate your magnesium deficiency. Also, anyone with digestive disorders or chronic digestive symptoms are at high risk for magnesium deficiency.

Now to decrease your muscle tension and help your body and nerves relax, add these high magnesium foods to your diet (in order from greatest Mg amount to least): buckwheat flour, oat bran, whole wheat flour, barley, spinach (raw), almonds, cashews, pumpkin seeds, beans, and artichokes. Cooking does deplete some of the magnesium, so it is best to get these foods in raw form, like a trail mix. A mixture of raw pumpkin seeds, almonds, cashews, dried fruit and whole-grain cereal is an excellent snack for anyone studying for a test, working on a project, or in a stressful situation.

~Natalie Butler
Nutrition Expert, Campus Calm

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