In the lead-up to Christmas, even the most placid of us can pick up on the festive stress-fest and get overly anxious and run-down.
Anxiety and stress eat into our body’s reserves of magnesium like there is no tomorrow, and conversely, when we are deficient in this crucial mineral, we are more susceptible to anxiety and stress. Thus, we can easily get into a vicious cycle.
Magnesium is Nature’s gift to help us relax at all levels, from relaxing muscles to soothing raw nerves. It boasts a long list of vital functions in the body. It helps to build bones, acts as a cofactor in over 300 enzyme reactions, helps to create energy (something we need especially in December), relaxes blood vessels (to offset the high blood pressure caused by Christmas stress) as well as relaxing the muscles in our digestion (which can be a mix of sluggish and over-active during this season).
So how can you boost your intake of magnesium and help to keep as much stress at bay as possible?
(1) Eat your greens
Now for the geeky bit. Chlorophyll, the green pigment in plants, has magnesium as its central atom. It should therefore come as no surprise to learn that green vegetables, especially dark leafy greens, are all rich in magnesium. What a good reason to eat up your Brussel sprouts this Christmas!!
A lot of people have a lifelong dislike of greens, probably due to childhood memories of soggy cabbage! There is, however, such a wide range of different greens available nowadays, plus so many ways to eat (or disguise) them, that there really is no excuse not to include some each day.
- Green juices and green smoothies are a fantastic way to include a lot more greens. OK, it’s a little difficult to ignore the colour, but if combined with fruit, the bitterness of the greens is not noticeable. See Natural Health Star’s post on juicing.
- Salads of lettuce, rocket, watercress, lamb’s lettuce etc can be dressed with olive oil and lemon juice and make a nice side dish.
- It’s easy to include greens in your homemade soups, or to throw in a handful of rocket before you whiz it around in your processor.
- If you are cooking, don’t boil them to death. It’s best to steam lightly so that as many nutrients as possible are retained.
I always recommend organic produce where possible. Pesticide-free, organic contains higher levels of nutrients, and producers are more likely to grow in soils rich in magnesium (intensive farming methods have left our soils woefully low in many minerals, including magnesium).
Other magnesium-rich foods include: dried fruit (e.g. apricots, raisins, dates); brown rice; millet; quinoa; nuts (e.g. cashews, almonds, walnuts, pistachios); seeds (e.g. sunflower, sesame, chia); pulses (lentils, peas and beans); seaweed (kelp etc); bananas; avocados.
(2) Relax with an Epsom salts bath
Epsom salts are simply magnesium sulphate, which when taken in a bath is easily absorbed by the skin and helps to soothe aching muscles and joints as well as encourage some serious relaxation. An Epsom salts bath is especially good just before bedtime to help you sleep. Just dissolve 1 cupful of the salts in comfortably warm water. Perhaps add a couple of drops of Lavender Essential Oil for extra effect. Lie back and enjoy!! Don’t add any bubbly or soaps as these detract from the effects of the salts. Use only food-grade salts (this isn’t an invite to eat them, but instead an indication of their quality). Essential Oils should be therapeutic grade.
Epsom salts baths are contraindicated for: high blood pressure; heart or kidney conditions; diabetes; during pregnancy; during menstruation; where there is risk of haemorrhage.
Book yourself in for some serious bath time in the run-up to Christmas.
(3) Supplement with magnesium oil
A relatively new supplement on the market is magnesium oil, which isn’t actually an oil, but water super-saturated with magnesium chloride. The beauty of this is that it can be sprayed directly on the area needed. For instance, if you get leg cramps, apply a few sprays on your legs and massage in. For general use, I suggest 10 – 30 sprays daily, spraying on the torso, legs and arms, a few sprays per area. Some people experience a little tingling when first applying. This is simply a sign that the body needs more magnesium. The tingling should subside after 10 – 20 minutes, but if not, wash off. Subsequent applications can be diluted, but more often than not, you won’t experience tingling once you get used to the oil. Don’t use on broken skin.
Get magnesium-savvy, and boost your stress-busting with some regular greens, Epsom salts baths and magnesium oil this winter.
Judith Reid is a naturopathic nutritionist and passionate about all things natural, elephants, travel and dance. Judith’s philosophy in life is very much in taking personal responsibility for one’s own health and believes that living more naturally is common sense. To read more about Judith click here
We’re big fans of magnesium at natural health star and so are our customers! If you need to boost your magnesium intake, this important mineral can be easily sprayed onto skin or added to a bath. However you take it, magnesium can help to improve joints, skin and aid relaxation. Raw cacao is also a delicious and effective way of adding magnesium into your diet! Take a look at our range of magnesium products in our natural health shop
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