Nutrition Expert editorial team June 07, 2016

Scientists at the University of Edinburgh are investigating whether magnesium can help maintain sleep patterns.

We know that the sleep regulating hormone melatonin is disturbed when magnesium is deficient, but it is now thought the essential mineral, found in the likes of dark chocolate, leafy green vegetables, nuts and seeds, beans and wholegrains, helps regulate our internal body clock.

Research has revealed that good levels of magnesium have had an ‘unexpected’ role in helping our bodies adapt to rhythms of night and day. They do this by controlling how cells keep their own form of time.

Dr Gerben van Ooijen of the University said: “Internal clocks are fundamental to all living things. They influence many aspects of health and disease.”

The discovery is thought to link to what are known as circadian rhythms – such as sleeping, walking, body temperature and hormone release – as well as metabolism.

While it is already well-known that magnesium has a great impact on metabolism, scientists have now been able to identify when this biological function takes place, and how efficiently.

The study, published in the journal ‘Nature’, has been well received by the Royal Society, the Medical Research Council and the Welcome Trust.

Co-author Dr John O’Neil, of Cambridge University, added: “Although the clinical relevance of magnesium is beginning to gain more attention, how magnesium regulates our body’s internal clock and our metabolism has simply not been considered before.

“The new discovery could lead to a whole range of benefits to health”, he continued, so watch this space.

Magnesium is not limited to benefiting your internal sleeping clock. It is vital for long term health and also assists with flexibility, muscle strength, constipation, strong bones and teeth and fatigue and energy.

And did you know that studies have shown magnesium chloride is well absorbed through the skin? The National Diet and Nutrition Survey (2016) has shown that 37% of teenagers and 12% of adults have very low intakes of magnesium, something we should all be aware of.

There are all sorts of innovative ways you can ensure you reach the recommended daily allowance (375mg) of magnesium, including:

• Traditional supplements or supplements optimised for absorption

• Magnesium bath flakes

• Topical gels such as Healthspan’s Glucosamine and Magnesium Gel

As mentioned, and rather delightfully, magnesium is also found in chocolate. In fact cocoa places highest in the magnesium food table containing 5.24mg of magnesium

per gram.

Nothing beats a healthy, balanced diet to provide all the nutrients we need. But when this isn't possible, supplements can help. This article isn't intended to replace medical advice. Please consult your healthcare professional before trying supplements or herbal medicines.



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