It’s cute to watch babies sleep a lot and be worry free. When we see this it’s hard for some of us to remember that we were also once babies in this mega relaxed state of mind. The fact of life is that a large proportion of adults between 30 and 60 rarely have the luxury of good quality sleep. We all enjoy good sleep as it makes us feel rejuvenated, rested and energetic in the morning. On the other hand, poor sleep causes agitation, lack of clarity of thought, anxiety and an overall feeling of low energy. Such a perpetual state leads to stress, over-eating, and for some of us smoking and drinking to calm the nerves. The main reason for this lack of sleep and consequential anxiety is the hectic, fast-paced and stressful life style of our modern society. It’s the price we pay for advancing our selves. However, another reason, and one that can be easily eliminated, is that most people do not get adequate magnesium from their diets.
This mineral is absolutely essential for life. There are over 300 enzymes in the body that use magnesium for their reactions. The most important are the ones that produce ATP (the most abundant energy molecule in the body) and the ones that synthesize DNA (our genetic code). Both ATP and DNA synthesis are very important for us to feel energetic and rejuvenated.
Most importantly, however, for the purpose of our discussion, magnesium calms the nerves. In the brain this leads to a more relaxed state and good quality sleep. Lack of magnesium causes agitated sleep with frequent awakenings. Magnesium also decreases the activity of the sympathetic nervous system. This system is responsible for the release of epinephrine (otherwise known as adrenalin) and cortisol. Epinephrine causes hypertension, agitation and anxiety. Cortisol, on the other hand, causes inflammation (something that may lead to diabetes and heart disease by clogging up arteries), fat deposition (especially in the abdominal area), anxiety and hypertension. Thus, magnesium relaxes the mind directly as well as indirectly by decreasing the levels of these two anxiety causing compounds. It also neutralizes cortisol directly by increasing its breakdown and elimination from the body.
Magnesium also increases memory and our capacity to learn. It also increases the release of serotonin. This neurotransmitter is responsible for having a good mood and for preventing depression. As a matter of fact, low serotonin level in the brain is the underlying cause of depression.
However, this is not the end of the story. Magnesium also decreases blood pressure, increases the sensitivity of organs to insulin, increases the utilization and breakdown of fats, decreases inflammation directly, and increases testosterone levels to a significant degree. Together with decreasing the two anxiety and disease causing compounds epinephrine and cortisol, magnesium is a powerful medicine in the prevention and treatment of the metabolic syndrome X.
Metabolic syndrome X is what more and more people are faced with in our modern society. From the medical point of view it’s the combination of high blood pressure, obesity, poor lipid and sugar control and overt diabetes. The consequences of such a combination are stress, anxiety, poor sleep, and eventually clogging up of arteries, heart disease, heart attacks, strokes, kidney failure and premature demise. It’s all interconnected together and adequate magnesium prevents this from happening to a very significant extent. Of course exercise and a healthy diet are also essential, but magnesium deficiency has been directly linked to the development of this devastating condition.
This is such an extensive array of beneficial qualities that I decided to write another blog on magnesium and the metabolic syndrome. I will also talk about how this miraculous mineral is great for burning fat, for building muscle, and for the maintenance of healthy bones. For now think about supplementing with good quality magnesium and get the good quality sleep we are all hoping for each and every night.