Tagged as: supplements

Magnesium, the supplement you probably are not taking

 

There are hundreds of supplements out there and you can go crazy trying to figure out the benefits and drawbacks to each one. Doctors sometimes tell their patients about the benefits of different supplements; for example, COQ10 is a great supplement to help you keep muscle mass if you’re taking statins for cholesterol. Statins will rob your body of the COQ10 you naturally create, so replacing it is a good idea.

 

Magnesium is another supplement- a mineral- that is crucial to keeping your body functioning well. Magnesium helps keep blood pressure normal, bones strong and the heart rhythm steady.

 

Most people should take a magnesium supplement because as a whole, Americans don’t eat enough foods that contain magnesium. Adults who take in less than the recommended amount of magnesium are more likely to have elevated inflammation markers. Inflammation has been associated with major health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, cancer and an elevated risk of osteoporosis.

 

Every organ in your body, especially your heart, muscles, and kidneys, uses magnesium. In fact, if you’re experiencing unexplained fatigue or weakness, abnormal heart rhythms or even muscle spasms and eye twitches, low levels of magnesium could be to blame.

 

Magnesium is also an antidote to stress; it’s the most powerful relaxation mineral available and can help improve your sleep. You can think of magnesium as the relaxation mineral. Anything that is tight, irritable, crampy, and stiff  – whether it’s a body part or even your mood- is a sign of magnesium deficiency.

 

So what do you do? Whenever possible, you should try to get your magnesium and other nutrients the natural way- including foods that are good for you in your diet. Kelp, wheat bran, wheat germ, almonds, cashews, buckwheat, pecans, walnuts, rye, tofu, soy beans, brown rice, figs, dates, collard greens, shrimp, avocado, parsley, beans, barley, dandelion greens, and garlic all have higher magnesium content. And, of course, eating whole foods is best. Refined and processed foods often lose vital vitamins and minerals.

  • What to avoid: drinking excessive amounts of soda or caffeine. Also know that certain medications and certain antibiotics can rob your body of magnesium.

 

But, like we said, most Americans can’t get enough magnesium through diet alone. So, talk to your doctor about magnesium supplements. The RDA (the minimum amount needed for adults) for magnesium is about 300 mg a day. Most of us get far less than 200 mg.

 

 

Also- be sure to check the label on your multi-vitamin before buying a separate magnesium supplement. Your multi-vitamin may contain what you need.

 

  • And, last, but not least, another enjoyable way to get magnesium- a hot bath with Epsom salts (magnesium sulfate). Your body actually absorbs the mineral while you soak. You can unwind and relax while doing something good for you.

 

 

Expired Supplements: Throw them out or keep them?

In the midst of doing some spring-cleaning, I found a half-empty economy size bottle of multi-vitamins in the medicine cabinet. According to the label, they expired just a few weeks ago. The question- keep them or throw them out?

 

I really didn’t want to throw them out- it seemed pretty wasteful. So, I did a little research to answer a couple of questions- are expired supplements harmful? And, if not- are they still beneficial?

 

What I found answered both questions, and I decided to keep the vitamins. Let me share the details with you.

 

First, let’s start with the expiration date. The expiration date is the last day (or month) an item will be at its highest level of potency. This is essentially an assurance from the manufacturer that the quality and strength of their product is guaranteed up until the expiration date. That doesn’t mean that the product loses any benefit or becomes harmful the day after it “expires.”

 

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not require supplements to have expiration dates. But, most manufacturers voluntarily list dates partially because it gives their consumers some piece of mind.

 

Most expiration dates are conservative, whether you’re dealing with supplements or prescription medication. Both start breaking down the day after they’re manufactured, so the fact that the product has “expired” mainly means that its lost strength, and may not have the same affect that it did when it was fresh.

 

Vitamins deteriorate at different rates, so manufacturers often times “beef up” the strength of some vitamins that deteriorate faster, in order to assure that they will be at the listed strength at the time of expiration.

 

One thing you should take a look at is they way you store your vitamins. It can have a big impact on how long your supplements will retain their strength. Be sure to check the label to see what the manufacturer advises on storage. Some folks keep their vitamins in the refrigerator, but you shouldn’t do that unless the instructions say so.

 

Most likely, the manufacturer will suggest that you keep your vitamins in a cool, dry, dark place and in their original containers. Some vitamins come in dark glass bottles or opaque containers to help preserve their potency. You should also store them away from heat and humidity, which makes the medicine cabinet one of the worst places for storage. I’ll be moving my supplements to the hall linen closet and putting them on a high shelf to keep them away from the kids.

If you store them properly, vitamins can last four or five years. And, taking “expired” vitamins is generally safe- they just won’t be as potent. It will take me about two more months to finish off this bottle of multi-vitamins, which means I’ll take the last few around three months after they “expired.” Perfectly safe.

 

Next time, though, I’ll be keeping better track of where I store my supplements so I can be sure to take them everyday. That’s how I ended up with this half empty bottle in the first place.

 

Jason Stone

Performance Coach, Icelandic Fitness, Denver, Colorado