If you haven’t heard about the million reasons you should be taking magnesium, then listen up. Magnesium is found in almost every cell of the human body, and is essential for normal muscle and nerve function. It aids in the production of energy, and helps prevent disorders such as diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease. You’ve most likely seen it used for muscle recovery, anxiety alleviation and a sleep aid, due to its influence on the parasympathetic nervous system.
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Traditionally, magnesium has been administered though food and supplements, but new products have given us alternative ways to take in your favourite mineral. We met up with Vaia Pappas, founder of Vaia beauty (a herbal medicine and skincare destination in Sydney’s Eastern suburbs) to discuss why we shouldn’t just be taking our magnesium orally, but start wearing it as well.
WHY YOU NEED IT
There is a slight difference in how the body breaks down magnesium depending on if it’s used orally or topically, but the benefits are ultimately the same. “The main benefits of magnesium for the skin are lymphatic stimulation, decongestion of impurities and an increase in blood flow, resulting in healthy skin cells and energised mitochondria (which make for plump, hydrated skin),” reveals Vaia. “For the rest of the body’s systems, magnesium is the most important cardiovascular mineral. Lack of this mineral can even result in a heart attack – it regulates cardiovascular wiring. Magnesium is also beneficial for digestive disorders and gut health, especially if your bowels are sluggish.”
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TAKE IT TOPICALLY
“I absolutely believe in the power of transdermal magnesium,” Vaia says. “We all understand basic skin science and that the skin is the largest organ of the body, but I don’t think we fully respect how many roles the skin has. The skin naturally absorbs Vitamin D from the sun and doctors compound synthetic hormone creams to use topically (e.g. hormone replacement therapy patches), so there’s no reason why we can’t use topical magnesium. However, I would not rely on topical magnesium for serious medical treatment (such as for post-heart disease treatment), where doctors prescribe oral magnesium instead. In these instances, people would benefit from both topical and internal application. Try a spray magnesium, like Sid & Jac Magnesium Oil or Salt Lab Magnesium Oil for a light weight option that packs a punch.”
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Magnesium may well be the secret to recovering quicker post-exercise or after an exhausting day. “Magnesium is highly effective in the remedy of sore muscles, so using it directly on tight spots in the body can provide gentle, safe and natural pain relief,” Vaia shares. “As a busy working mum, I suffer with chronic neck and shoulder pain and use magnesium gel as treatment. Epsom salt baths are also essentially a transdermal magnesium treatment and I often recommend them to my patients to re-mineralise the body.”
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FORGET ABOUT POPPING HORSE PILLS
Brands like The Base Collective sell a range of magnesium-infused body products that can be slathered on daily. Using magnesium in skincare has been shown to improve your skin’s overall appearance, reduce acne and other skin disorders, and stabilise hormonal imbalances. Not able to get your hands on these products just yet? No worries. There are other ways to get your daily dose. Swisse Vitamins has a range of non-tablet magnesium supplements, like a dissolvable, berry-flavoured powder and effervescent tablets that you can pop in your handbag. If you’re looking to take magnesium for its sleep benefits, try GO Healthy Magnesium Sleep, which is formulated with passionflower and Zizyphus to relax the body and support a good night’s sleep. Regardless of whether you prefer to pop it in pill form or slather it on your skin, getting an adequate amount of magnesium is essential for everybody.
Story by Molly Gay. Interview with Vaia Pappas