Clear skin comes easily to a few lucky people, but for most of us getting our canvas to a blemish-free state is a constant battle.
We double cleanse, exfoliating, hydrate and – let’s admit it – squeeze and extract in a search for smooth skin. We also know that chugging down our daily two litres of water and a healthy dose of fruit and veg can help. But how many of us have considered putting magnesium supplements in the mix?
What is magnesium?
Magnesium (a naturally occurring alkaline macro mineral) is a key ingredient to overall bodily health, especially in bone health and muscle strength. It doesn’t get as much air time as Vitamin C, and isn’t as on trend as probiotics, but – considering how important it is for our health – it should do.
The mineral plays a part in over 300 enzymatic reactions inside of us, which keeps everything ticking along nicely: ‘It’s important for so many systems in the body’, says Sofia Irshad, homeopathic expert at The Organic Pharmacy, ‘and is essential for the normal functioning of cells, nervous system, muscles, bones and the heart.’
With an estimated 70-80% of the UK population now thought to be deficient in magnesium levels, there’s been an increase in interest in this miracle mineral and the benefits you could reap from upping your dosage.
What are magnesium’s benefits for your health?
It’s all very well talking about enzymatic reactions and cell functions, but what real tangible benefits could you see from getting your fix of magnesium?
Firstly, although not exactly visible, it’s key to top notch bone health. Around 50% of the mineral you take in goes straight to the skeletal system, upping the strength and resilience of your framework, which might not be a priority to you now, but will be key in keeping conditions like osteoporosis at bay.
Secondly, and perhaps more importantly for the gym-bunnies among us, magnesium can be a big boost to your fitness regime, enabling muscles to repair and build at speed. ‘When it comes to fitness, recovery is everything’, says Matt Cunningham, Performance Specialist at Workshop Gymnasium, ‘so to maximise the full potential of the work we do in the gym, we need to give this equal or more attention.’
He adds that magnesium is a key ingredient in this process. ‘As well as maintaining the health of our muscles, it also plays a crucial role in supporting deep and restful sleep, which is where the body will regenerate and recharge for the next workout.’
The benefits of magnesium, ones that you can see or feel, are almost endless, says Sofia. ‘It’s useful for soothing cramps, headaches, indigestion, constipation, insomnia.’ But perhaps the most easily visible affect it can have is on your skin.
What are magnesium’s benefits for your skin?
When you’re lacking the miracle mineral in your diet, the levels of fatty acid on the surface of the skin and collagen levels – which keep things bouncy and moisturised – will decrease. Your face will end up dryer, uneven in tone and prone to wrinkles. Not ideal. Bringing those levels back up will in turn help to bring the life and light back to lacklustre skin.
Magnesium can also help to protect your skin from external damage, as it regulates cellular regeneration and repair, increasing the recovery when skin is disturbed and strength when it’s under attack.
If acne is your issue, using topical products can sometimes aggravate and worsen things. Working on the cause of hormonal acne, magnesium could be a game changer for those suffering from the skin issue, says Sofia, ‘It lowers cortisol production, thereby potentially helping to reduce acne by stabilising hormonal imbalances in the body.’
An important chemical in our immune functions, alongside acne it can also soothe skin allergies too. Like many health issues, working from the inside out could be the key.
How can I get my magnesium fix?
You can boost your levels by popping magnesium rich food into your shopping trolley: sunflower seeds, nuts, legumes (that’s beans to you and I) spinach, bananas, and squash for example. Swapping milk for dark chocolate will give you a little tasty hit too. Otherwise supplements are an easy way to get your dose. Look for magnesium citrate which, taken orally, absorbs faster and more effectively. Trying adding some into your daily diet and watch that skin begin to beam with happiness.
This article first appeared on ELLE UK.