As the fourth most prevalent mineral found in every cell within the body, it should come as no surprise that magnesium is required for so many different bodily functions. In fact, your body uses magnesium in over 300 different enzymatic reactions.
When it comes to your skin, magnesium serves a number of different purposes, from clearing stress-related acne breakouts to preventing wrinkles, making it essential that you are providing your body with the required amount of magnesium each and every day.
Magnesium Reduces Stress and Anxiety
Stress and anxiety are directly linked to the health of your skin.
Each time you feel stressed, your body releases the stress hormone, known as cortisol, which basically puts people into fight or flight mode.
However, when the body experiences chronic stress, cortisol levels begin to really build up, which then triggers the sebaceous glands to produce more oil.
Clogged pores, inflammation, and, ultimately, acne.
In addition to causing acne, stress can exacerbate other skin conditions, such as eczema and rosacea, and can also accelerate the visible signs of aging.
You’re probably thinking…
What does this have to do with magnesium?
Well, one of the incredible properties of magnesium is that it is a relaxation mineral, and supports adrenal function. Whenever cortisol is released into your body, your kidneys release some magnesium, as the mineral has the ability to regulate and reduce the effects that cortisol has on the body. This then minimizes the detrimental effects that stress can have on your skin.
However, when chronic stress is experienced, it does not take long for magnesium levels to begin running low…
When this happens, your blood vessels tighten and your blood pressure is raised, both of which end up magnifying the effects of stress.
In addition to using magnesium to help lower stress, you should back this up with other stress-relieving methods too, whether this may be a workout or eating foods that lower the cortisol in your body.
Magnesium Improves Sleep
Your skin needs quality sleep every night in order to thrive, with the time that your body is sleeping being when your skin really works to heal and regenerate itself.
After all, it is referred to as beauty sleep for a reason…
Without sufficient sleep each night, here are a few of the skin issues that you may experience:
- An increase in inflammation, which leads to the breakdown of collagen, the protein that gives your skin its structure and firmness
- Poor water balance, leading to dryness and accelerated aging
- Increases cortisol in body, meaning it has the same effects on your skin as stress does
- Exacerbation of existing skin conditions, such as eczema, psoriasis and acne
So, how can magnesium help?
In a number of ways…
To begin with, as mentioned above, magnesium helps to reduce stress and anxiety, which in itself is enough to really help many people finally experience some quality sleep.
Magnesium also helps the muscles in the body to relax, which, as you would imagine, makes quality sleep much easier.
Another one of magnesium’s roles is in the synthesis of serotonin, which is the precursor of melatonin.
What is melatonin?
A hormone that your brain produces, which controls your sleeping and waking cycles. Studies have shown that those who take magnesium supplements have higher levels of melatonin in their bodies than those who do not.
Magnesium is a Powerful Anti-Inflammatory
There are many ingredients out there that are touted as being anti-inflammatory, but what exactly does this mean?
Well, inflammation is the way in which your body naturally fights off attackers, whether this may be bacteria, chemicals or even foods. In the short run, this is a good thing, but chronic inflammation is becoming increasingly common, and this is where the problems begin.
- Premature aging, in the form of fine lines, wrinkles and sagging skin
Magnesium has been proven to significantly reduce inflammation within the body, which would then help to reduce any skin issues that have been brought about by inflammation.
Magnesium also targets skin inflammation directly…
Well, one of the ways it does this is by inhibiting e-selectin, which is a molecule that is responsible for inflammation within the skin. When your skin is damaged, it is e-selectin that sends inflammation to the site of damage, but, in the case of chronic damage, which can be caused by anything from sun exposure to smoking, e-selectin never stops working.
Magnesium can help with this, and therefore minimize and prevent the angry red lesions that e-selectin causes.
Magnesium Helps the Gut to Thrive
Many people do not realize that the health of their gut can have a direct impact on their skin…
Here are a few of the skin issues that poor gut health can cause:
- Dry Skin
- Facial Redness
In addition to boosting immune function, mood and energy levels, improving the health of the gut has been scientifically proven to lead to clearer skin.
However, science has also proven that a magnesium deficiency will lead to noticeably lower concentrations of good bacteria in the gut.
There is an ideal balance required between good bacteria and bad bacteria in the gut, and, without the right amount of magnesium in your body, this gets completely thrown off.
Are you wondering how magnesium actually affects the gut?
To begin with, magnesium is key when it comes to activating the enzymes responsible for breaking down the food that you have eaten, meaning that, without enough of it, poor digestion will be experienced.
Magnesium is also important when it comes to controlling the contraction and relaxation of the bowel. Without enough magnesium, your bowel will be slower at emptying, which will then cause even more problems for the good bacteria in your gut.
Magnesium Helps to Fight Insulin Resistance
Just like cortisol, insulin is a hormone that is good in small doses, but detrimental to your skin when around for longer periods of time.
What exactly does insulin do?
It basically controls your blood sugar levels, keeping this low. It takes any excess glucose in your blood and helps to convert it into energy, rather than allowing it to become toxic to the body.
However, modern-day diets often contain far too much sugar, resulting in the body producing way too much insulin…
This then results in your cells becoming resistant to excess glucose, meaning that it is no longer converted into energy. The long-term result of this is diabetes and metabolic syndrome.
When it comes to the skin, insulin resistance increases the amount of oil that your sebaceous glands produce, which quickly leads to clogged pores, acne and inflammation.
However, studies have shown that those who increase the amount of magnesium they are consuming are able to lower their metabolic markers for insulin resistance by an impressive 71%. There are many other studies on this subject out there, with another one showing that magnesium was able to significantly prevent type 2 diabetes from developing.
How Much Magnesium Do You Actually Need?
When it comes to the amount of magnesium that you actually need, recommendations vary quite a bit, with some professionals saying around 300-400mg per day, while others say 800-1000mg per day.
So where do you actually get magnesium from?
Well, historically, magnesium was found in high concentrations in the soil, which meant that it made its way into the food that people would eat.
However, the soil that is used to grow our food today has been severely over-farmed, and is seriously depleted of magnesium.
Of course, magnesium can still be found in small amounts in certain foods, such as:
- Dark, leafy greens – the darker, the better
- Oily fish – such as sardines and mackerel
- Seaweed and kelp
- Dark chocolate
However, keep in mind that today’s food really only contains magnesium in tiny amounts.
For example, in order to consume your daily requirement of magnesium, you would need to eat more than 33 cups of spinach every day, or over 22 cans of sardines.
This is where magnesium supplements come in…
Unfortunately, in today’s world, this is really the only way to ensure that your body is obtaining its required amount of magnesium each day.
Even if you do not take any other supplements, magnesium is one that you really should consider. As you will have read above, this is a mineral that is so vital when it comes to the various daily functions within the body.
While it is usually better to opt for whole foods that contain the nutrients that you need, this just is not possible when it comes to magnesium, making supplements essential.
Choosing a Magnesium Supplement
There are so many different types of magnesium supplements out there, and it can be really difficult knowing which one you actually need.
Magnesium supplements are not all created equally…
The biggest factor that they vary in is how bioavailable they are to the body.
Here are a few of the most common magnesium supplement types:
- Magnesium Oxide – inexpensive but can have a laxative effect
- Magnesium Citrate – budget-friendly and more bioavailable than magnesium oxide
- Magnesium Sulfate – also known as Epsom salts, these also provide sulfur, which is great for soothing aching muscles
- Magnesium Chloride – highly bioavailable
- Magnesium Glycinate – optimum bioavailability
Wondering how much you need to take?
As mentioned above, the guidelines vary quite a bit. Some people experience great results with just 250mg a day, whereas others need about 700mg a day to notice a difference.
Your best bet is to start off with a low dose, and then gradually increase this. You cannot really go overboard with taking too much, and it would be really difficult to cause magnesium toxicity, but, as always, exercise common sense.
In addition to consuming magnesium, you can also apply it to your skin topically.
There are many skin care products out there that are formulated with magnesium, or, alternatively, you could use a magnesium oil. Since this is quite a concentrated product, it should not be applied to the face. Instead, apply it to a part of your skin that encourages absorption, such as your inner arm, and then let it soak in.
Epsom salts are another great source of magnesium, and you can absorb this mineral through your skin.
By taking a soak in an Epsom salt bath. Your skin will absorb just the right amount of magnesium that your body needs, and you will also be gaining the benefits of sulfur. Baths with Epsom salts have been proven to be an even better source of magnesium than consuming supplements, making this a method definitely worth trying.
How much should you be adding to your bath?
The recommended amount is around two cups for a well-filled bath, and you should soak in this for 10 to 15 minutes. While it may be tempting to indulge in the bath for a little longer, do not forget that leaving your skin to soak in hot water for so long will bring about its own detrimental effects.
To boost the amount of magnesium that enters your skin during the bath, try giving your skin a dry brush beforehand.
Avoiding the Things That Inhibit Magnesium Absorption
While magnesium absorption is something that happens naturally, there are certain things that can inhibit this, and therefore leave you more magnesium-deficient than you would have thought.
Eating foods that have been laden with pesticides is one of these things, as is drinking water that contains fluoride.
Prescription drugs are also best avoided when possible, as is dairy, soda and sugar.
With around 80% of Americans being deficient in magnesium, this is a mineral that you need to take extremely seriously. The symptoms of a magnesium deficiency are so varied, so it is well worth trying out a magnesium supplement and seeing how this could not only benefit your skin, but also your overall health.