Why Stiffness Can Be A Sign Of Magnesium Deficiency + What To Do, From A Functional MD
There are a host of problems that can present themselves when we're deficient in essential nutrients. In the case of magnesium, functional medicine doctor Mark Hyman, M.D., recently took to the 'gram to explain just what can happen if we're missing out on this mineral. Here's what he had to say, plus what you can do about it.
Why tightness & stiffness can indicate a magnesium deficiency.
Magnesium is an essential mineral that helps us with everything from regulating blood pressure to easing up tense muscles and nerves. As Hyman writes on his Instagram page, "Think of magnesium as the relaxation mineral. You must have magnesium for your cells to make energy, for many different chemical pumps to work, to stabilize membranes, and to help muscles relax."
And when you don't have enough? Hyman notes "whether it's a body part, or even a mood," feeling tight, stiff, irritable, or crampy may be a sign. As research has shown, magnesium deficiencies are linked to greater inflammation1 and even mood disorders2; it's clear we need to get enough.
So, if any of those symptoms sound familiar, you might need to up your mag intake. "Many of us eat a diet that contains practically no magnesium," Hyman writes. But luckily, there are plenty of foods out there that can assist in this department, as well as quality supplements to get your magnesium ball rolling.
What to do about it.
Your primary care doctor can give you blood work to determine if you're deficient, but even without a test, it definitely never hurts to incorporate more magnesium-rich foods into your diet. Hyman recommends nuts like almonds, cashews, pecans, filberts, and Brazil nuts; grains such as wheat bran, wheat germ, millet, buckwheat, rye, and brown rice; proteins like tofu, soybeans, and shrimp; and sea veggies such as kelp and dulse. Other great options include collard greens, dandelion greens, figs, dates, avocado, parsley, and garlic.
"I also highly recommend a daily magnesium supplement," he notes in his post, adding that you want to make sure you're getting a quality supplement without magnesium carbonate, sulfate, gluconate, and oxide. "The most absorbable forms are magnesium citrate, glycinate, taurate, or aspartate," he writes.
Hyman also adds, "To properly absorb magnesium we need a lot of it in our diet, plus enough vitamin B6, vitamin D, and selenium to get the job done."
The bottom line.
Without sufficient magnesium levels, you're bound to notice an effect, whether it's mood disturbances, joint pain or stiffness, and even trouble sleeping. By ensuring you're eating a diet rich in magnesium and incorporating a quality magnesium supplement into your routine, you can help mitigate some of those undesirable symptoms.
Sarah Regan is a Spirituality & Relationships Editor, a registered yoga instructor, and an avid astrologer and tarot reader. She received her bachelor's in broadcasting and mass communication from State University of New York at Oswego, and lives in Buffalo, New York.