Magnesium—the MVP of the Periodic Table You Probably Aren’t Getting Enough Of

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Since that month in chemistry class devoted to memorizing the entire periodic table, you probably haven't revisited what the elements—specifically magnesium—can do for your health, right?

Don't worry, there won't be a pop quiz at the end of this article, but we did tap Amy Shapiro, RD and founder of Real Nutrition, to give us a quick lesson on the benefits of magnesium and how it can be a real wellness game-changer.

"I find through my research that if we eat a balanced diet full of foods that provide great sources of magnesium, we should feel quite balanced, and many of our daily ailments will be alleviated," she says. Most Americans are deficient in magnesium, which is why getting enough of it makes a noticeable impact on how you feel. (So yes, this is one case where eating your problems away is totally a thing.)

"If we eat a balanced diet full of foods that provide great sources of magnesium...many of our daily ailments will be alleviated."

This OG element is found in chocolate (yas), fish, almonds, avocados (double yas), green leafy veggies, and pumpkin seeds—which are having a moment in the superfood space right now. With more brands tapping into the magic of magnesium via pumpkin seeds, Health Warrior Superfoods is leading the charge with its Organic Pumpkin Seed Protein Bars that deliver 35 percent of your daily recommended value of magnesium, plus eight grams of plant-based protein and major flavor (oh hey, dark chocolate and honey sea salt).

"Pumpkin seeds are small but mighty," Shapiro adds. "They are high in magnesium as well as zinc, which helps to boost your immune system. They are also a great source of omega-3 fatty acids and fiber, they balance blood sugar levels, have anti-inflammatory properties, and contain tryptophan, an amino acid that assists in sleep." Note to self: Eat all the pumpkin seeds.

Keep scrolling to learn about the benefits of magnesium and the best ways to incorporate it into your diet.

benefits of magnesium

Benefit 1: Score a mood boost

Magnesium plays a huge role in your brain function and mood, Shapiro explains, so upping your intake can have positive effects on everything from anxiety to insomnia and PMS symptoms.

"Low levels [of magnesium] are linked to depression and supplementing may help improve symptoms," Shapiro says. The same goes for anxiety—when you're deficient in magnesium, you might start feeling more anxious, so that's a telling sign that you could benefit from adding more avocados or leafy greens into your meal prep.

There's a reason you crave dark chocolate when you're on your period.

If your anxious thoughts are keeping you up at night, magnesium can help with that too. "When you do not have adequate amounts you may suffer from insomnia, so fixing that deficiency will improve sleep patterns," Shapiro says.

Finally, there's a reason you crave dark chocolate when you're on your period. Shapiro says magnesium can help reduce bloating and cramps, so next time PMS strikes, opt for some high-magnesium foods to get you through—plus a rom-com for good measure.

Benefit 2: Fight off common diseases

ICYMI, heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the U.S., so making sure your heart is up and running the way it should is priority number one. And—you guessed it—magnesium can help. "[Magnesium] reduces arrhythmias (when your heart beats irregularly), and decreases heart attack and calcification of the arteries as it assists with muscle function," Shapiro says.

Magnesium has also been linked to the prevention of type 2 diabetes, which affects more than 28 million Americans. Though more research is needed to solidify the connection, there is evidence that supplementing with magnesium can help people avoid developing the disease.

"Low magnesium levels are linked to low insulin sensitivity," Shapiro explains. "[Magnesium] lowers the risk of diabetes, as it helps with the metabolism of carbohydrates and glucose." Needless to say, magnesium is a pretty major player when it comes to your health.

benefits of magnesium

How to get it

Now that we're clued into magnesium's impressive resume, it's time to tap into all those benefits. Shapiro always recommends starting with food first, before incorporating supplements, because it's easier on the digestive system. But if you're looking for a food-based source of magnesium with the ease of popping a supplement, Health Warrior's Organic Pumpkin Seed Protein Bars get the green light from the RD.

"I love the flavors [because they're] not overly sweet," she says. "They're also an easy way to eat a nourishing seed that most people don’t think to snack on often." Okay, chem lesson over. Do you feel smarter already?

In partnership with Health Warrior Superfoods

Photos: Health Warrior

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