Targeted, weekly challenges that help bolster you onward into health changes that hold the most power for you.
Not happy with your weight? Give me seven days. Not happy with your finances? Give me seven days. Not happy with your relationship? Give me seven days
Once people find out that I am a registered dietitian (aka nutritionist to most of the world!) they often ask a health question or speak of a problem they have been having as it relates to food.
Sometimes, I've discovered my career choice somehow makes them feel guilty or 'called-to-the-carpet.' My mere presence serves as a reminder that they need to "lose a few pounds". I try to combat this by describing that I'm normal, and I certainly do not follow any certain diet too strictly. I choose to eat a lot less dairy because I feel better off of it. I choose to eat fewer sweets because they make me feel tired and cause breakouts on my face. I love how I feel AFTER I workout, not necessarily before or during! But I digress.
Your weekly change series challenge: Take an Epsom Salt Bath every day for 1 week. Put about 2-3 cups of epsom salts in your bath. Soak for at least 15 minutes. Use the time to clear your mind, meditate, and ponder what you are grateful for in your life.
One of the topics that came up this week in my day-to-day life was about the mineral magnesium. A mineral which, in my opinion, can be quite overlooked unless you have a diagnosed heart condition. It is sometimes missed even WITH a diagnosed heart condition. And that's ok - because if everyone already knew about it - what would I write about today?!
Magnesium serves as a mineral cofactor in around 300 different enzymatic processes within the body. That simply means that for your body to build or use certain proteins or hormones, you need to have magnesium 'on hand' inside cells.
Magnesium and Muscle
Muscles require magnesium to lengthen and relax. This mineral serves as a natural calcium blocker, and aids in muscle (cardiac, skeletal, or smooth muscles within the gut) relaxation and prevention of unwanted contraction or vasoconstriction.
Magnesium does this by blocking calcium. Calcium serves to start a muscle contraction after signaling. Muscles require magnesium to release and relax following a contraction. This means magnesium serves as a natural calcium blocker in many situations within the body.
There is a whole class of medications called calcium channel blockers, and while these are certainly useful, in my clinical opinion, magnesium deficiency should be ruled out prior to initiation of these medications. One example would be amlodipine (Norvasc), among others.
Some of the most famous marathon runners and athletes across the world swear by their magnesium salt (epsom salt) baths as part of their recovery. You can absorb magnesium transdermally, through your skin, so taking a nice relaxing, epsom salt bath is a great way to help relax your muscles and replete any magnesium losses.
Oral magnesium glycinate is another option for maintaining appropriate magnesium status within the body.
Assessing Magnesium Deficiency
Most health professionals evaluate the "serum" magnesium level to assess deficiency. While this is certainly helpful in acute, emergency cases, if your serum magnesium level is too low, you're going to need clinical care and quick!
A better indicator of true magnesium status in the body is the amount of magnesium within your red blood cells. This test is called Magnesium, RBC. Just like a Hemoglobin A1c gives an approximately 90 day average of blood sugar levels, the Magnesium, RBC gives a picture of your overall magnesium status.
So if you'd like to know your true magnesium status, ask your physician, physician assistant (PA), or nurse practitioner (NP) to assess your magnesium, RBC.
Conditions which can be helped by Magnesium
Heart Arrythmias, Heart Failure, multiple cardiac conditions (1)
Diabetes Prevalence (3)
Migraine headaches (5)
Alzheimer's disease (6)
Cerebrovascular accident (stroke) (7)
Supraventricular tachycardia (SVT) (9)
There are certainly more conditions in which magnesium plays a role, however these listed above have strong evidence to support them. Of note, many of those studies evaluated serum magnesium levels, and as we know, magnesium, RBC likely a more informative marker of true intracellular magnesium status.
Click on any of the titles below to view the recent (within the past 10 years) published research on these topics.