We’re Calling It: Magnesium Is Officially the New Melatonin

Photo: Getty Images/Chaloemphon Wanitcharoentham
Sorry, melatonin, but there’s an old-but-new mineral people now swear by for better sleep and relaxation: magnesium.

"Magnesium is a mineral that is part of many metabolic processes in the body," says neuroscientist Tara Swart, MD. "We need it just as much as we need all the essential vitamins and minerals." Some of its benefits include supporting higher brain function and helping produce melatonin for a better night's rest.

It's also great for muscle recovery, too. "One of its primary roles is to regulate muscle function," says Nick Bitz, ND, a licensed, board-certified naturopathic doctor and the chief scientific officer at Youtheory. "Whereas calcium is needed for muscles to contract, magnesium is needed for muscles to relax. So if your body is low in magnesium, your muscles will stay contracted, resulting in muscle tightness and cramps."

While certainly a person could take a magnesium supplement if they so chose (with their practitioner's blessing, of course), a lot of brands are taking the mineral to new heights by combining it with other relaxation- and recovery-promoting ingredients. Here's a preview of some of the most innovative magnesium products Well+Good editors saw at ExpoWest—the world's largest natural products convention—all of which are coming to shelves this year. Melatonin, who?

Magnesium + CBD

One, named the Calm Superfood Shot and is coming out later this year, is by organic superfoods company Navitas Organics and combines magnesium with acai and...wait for it...CBD.

"Relaxation and recovery are linked, as the body needs rest and relaxation to repair and recover from stress, exercise and regular daily activity," says Brooke Golden, the brand's vice president of product innovation and marketing. Golden says the brand really honed in on stress as something they wanted to address with their new product line.

Magnesium and CBD are a powerful pairing (beyond being trendy) because they both target the body's stress response, says Golden. "Our endocannabinoid system, which CBD supports, helps regulate stress. CBD holistically supports balance throughout the body, which can include anti-inflammation and calming the stress response, among other benefits." Meanwhile, Dr. Swart says magnesium is directly related to lowering cortisol levels, helping the body relax. "When we have lower cortisol levels we have less stress symptoms and feel more relaxed," she says. "Combining magnesium products with non psycho-active CBD or alternating them can boost the feeling of rejuvenation and wellbeing."

Magnesium + l-theanine

Youtheory is also launching a powdered magnesium product later this year. The brand combines it with two other nutrients linked to helping the body relax: the neurotransmitter GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) and l-theanine. Magnesium binds GABA receptors in the brain to aid in calming activity and quieting the nervous system, prepping your body for sleep. And l-theanine is so well-known to help the body combat stress that it's sometimes referred to as "nature's Xanax." The result: "a profound sense of physical relaxation," says Dr. Bitz.

Beverage brand WellWell also incorporated magnesium and l-theanine into one of their latest products: Dream, a pre-bedtime elixir also made with valerian root, turmeric, and ashwagandha. Functional medicine doctor Sagan Schultz, MD, the brand's CEO and co-founder, says they also decided to include vitamin B6 in the drink because it is helps convert the amino acid tryptophan to melatonin (another sleep-promoting compound!) so they wanted to support that pathway as well.

Magnesium + potassium + tart cherry

If your muscles are in need of some TLC, your Rx might come in the form of Nuun's new Rest products. Made with magnesium, potassium, and tart cherry, they're formulated to help overworked muscles recover. "The combination of magnesium and potassium may help alleviate some nighttime muscle cramps that are associated with exercise," explains Vishal Patel, the senior research and development manager at Nuun. "Due to magnesium begin found primarily in bone and muscle, and it being lost via urine and sweat, athletes will lose more of it—hence why it's important to replenish with magnesium."

Tart cherry plays a role in helping the body relax, too."Tart cherry helps the body produce natural melatonin when the body is at a more restful state, which magnesium will help facilitate," Patel says. It sounds like this product could just become your new fave pre-bedtime ritual.

Clearly, there's no shortage of ways to get your magnesium fix, if you and your doctor agree that you could benefit on upping your intake. Figure out what method works for you, and both your mind and your body could feel the effects.

Here's what vitamins you might need more of, based on your age and some tips on how to buy the right ones.

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