Magnesium is an essential mineral that serves many important functions such as keeping the heart, bones, nerves and bones healthy. Despite its importance, the Canadian Community Health Survey found that there is a high incidence of inadequate magnesium intake.
Some top food sources include:
- Nuts and seeds: Hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, almonds, cashews
- Greens: Swiss chard, spinach, beet greens, kale
- Legumes: Black beans, edamame, navy beans
- Whole grains: Teff, amaranth, quinoa, spelt, brown rice
Looking at these top food sources of magnesium, I’m not too surprised that many people are probably not getting enough of this essential mineral. While this is certainly not an exhaustive list of good food sources of magnesium, a lot of these foods are certainly not everyday food staples for most people.
An interesting role of magnesium is its involvement in sleep regulation. Magnesium deficiencies may affect circadian rhythm. In fact, a symptom of magnesium deficiency can be frequent night wakening. This was very intriguing to me due to my own struggle with poor sleep quality, which I attributed to restless leg syndrome caused by low ferritin levels (click here for more info).
A research article popped up in my newsfeed that look at the effect of magnesium supplementations on sleep quality. This study found an improvement in reported sleep quality between the magnesium-supplemented group compared to the placebo group. This appears to be due to the sedative like action of magnesium. Unfortunately, there aren’t many studies looking at magnesium supplementation and sleep. Most of them also look at those over 60 years and who have magnesium deficiency.
Despite the lack of research to support taking a magnesium supplement to improve sleep, I thought I’d give it a try. I’ve started taking 250 mg of elemental magnesium pre-bed and have noticed improved sleep. However, this is completely antidotal, and could be entirely because of the “placebo” effect. I also believe that I get enough magnesium in my diet through food alone.
Even though I have had positive effects with taking a magnesium supplement, I certainly don’t think that I would go around recommending that everyone with sleep issues does this. There just isn’t strong enough research to support this habit. If you decide to give magnesium supplementation a try, no more than 350 mg of elemental magnesium should be taken per day. Also full disclosure, high doses of magnesium can also cause diarrhoea.
Before you start popping a magnesium supplement, first focus on including good food sources of magnesium in your diet. Food is always the preferred source over supplements as food also supplies other important vitamins, minerals and nutrients (plus, they taste better).