Updated: May 11
Vitamins and minerals are vital to development, disease prevention, and well-being.
Yet I have found there are three key nutrients that the average New Zealander is commonly lacking.
A poor diet of overly processed, nutrient poor foods is the most obvious reason for the undernourishment. But the nutrient content in our soil (in NZ, our soil is naturally lacking many minerals), modern farming methods (failure to remineralise our soils), stress (increases the rate we use nutrients), environmental toxins (bind to the nutrients so they can't do their job), poor gut health (interferes with digestion and absorption of nutrients), and medications (interfering with nutrient absorption) all play a role.
So here are my top 3 nutrients you should make sure you're getting enough of:
Considered the wonder nutrient, it has been recognized as a cofactor for more than 300 important enzymatic reactions within our bodies. Magnesium...
is involved in muscle relaxation and contraction (remember the heart is a muscle)
is calming & can help alleviate the effects of stress on the body
detoxifies the body
is involved in brain and nerve function, digestion, glucose and energy metabolism, and in the maintenance of hormones
is important for bone health - possibly more so than calcium (calcium without magnesium makes bones hard but brittle).
is crucial for energy production, blood glucose control, and blood pressure regulation.
Common signs and symptoms of magnesium deficiency include:
Muscle and joint aches and pains
Brain fog, poor memory or cognitive function (especially when under stress)
Anger and irritability (tantrums in children)
Poor sleep and insomnia
Chocolate cravings (chocolate is high in magnesium)
More serious conditions linked to magnesium deficiency include
Hypertension (high blood pressure)
Calcification of soft tissues like arteries and ligaments
Type 2 Diabetes
Anxiety and depression
Sensitivity to light and sound
Obsessive compulsive disorder
PMS (premenstrual syndrome)
How do you assess your magnesium levels?
Because only 1% of magnesium is in the blood, a standard serum blood test is not very reliable. Measuring the magnesium level within red blood cells however is more accurate. Since this test is not funded in New Zealand, you will need pay for it. Make sure you request a red blood cell magnesium test. Functional medicine practitioners recommend that the optimal range is 6.0 - 6.5 mg/dL or around 2.5 - 2.7 mmol/L.