Do you experience night time leg cramps, restless leg syndrome, insomnia or mild anxiety? If so, a magnesium supplement may be for you. Be sure you are well hydrated on a daily basis, especially if you exercise regularly, as dehydration can also cause leg cramps. Magnesium is essential for cellular health. It regulates calcium, potassium and sodium as well as being a critical component of over 300 biochemical functions in the body. It promotes relaxation of muscle. A deficiency in it can lead to cardiovascular disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, anxiety disorders, migraines and osteoporosis. Anyone with celiac disease or a “leaky gut” may need to supplement magnesium as these conditions limit the body from absorbing it from food. Foods rich in magnesium include spinach, pumpkin seeds, tuna, almonds, avocados AND good news! Dark chocolate!!! 400 mg before bed is the best time to take a magnesium supplement. Be aware however that magnesium can work as a laxative too if the dose is too high. Check with your doctor for advice.
Another supplement that will be of benefit no matter who you are, is Omega 3. This fish oil is found in foods such as anchovies, tuna, herring and wild salmon. It is also found in walnuts and flaxseed. The amounts you would have to eat of these foods to get the required amount however would be difficult. Omega 3 fatty acids help reduce inflammation in the body, This benefits the joints (arthritis) and the lungs (asthma). Omega 3 also lowers your risk of diabetes because it improves the bodies reaction to insulin. Omega 3 reduces the risk of heart disease and has been linked to the prevention of dementia. So for heart, lung, joint, and brain health choose an Omega 3 supplement. You can take between 1500 and 5000 mg per day. The one I chose is in liquid form, has natural lemon flavouring and has no fishy after taste.
Omega 3’s also lower the stress hormone, Cortisol, in the body. Too much cortisol due to prolonged stress raises inflammation in the body which results in many health problems. The list includes joint pain, decreased thyroid function leading to low energy, increased abdominal fat which increases the risk of heart disease, low immune function which can lead to fibromyalgia, slow wound healing and sleep disruption which can lead to mild depression as well as low cognitive function over time. Lowering cortisol by managing stress through exercise is key. You can also lower cortisol by consuming foods high in vitamin C. These include (in order of high to lower) Guava fruit, 376 mg in one cup, red pepper 190 mg in a cup, black currants 160 mg per cup, broccoli 102 mg per cup, brussel sprouts 97 mg per cup, strawberries 89 mg per cup or pineapple 79 mg per cup. Citrus fruit is 78 mg per cup of grapefruit and 70 mg per cup of orange.
Something else that causes inflammation in the body, and therefore the same associated health risks, when ingested more than moderately is sugar. Remove as much refined sugar from your diet as you can. Sugar is in processed food in abundance. Check food labels in the grocery store. Choose foods low in sugar. Avoid sugary beverages. Choose products with “no sugar added”. Use natural honey as a substitute whenever possible. Women can ingest 6 teaspoons daily before inflammation will occur in the body and men can consume 8 teaspoons. Most people are getting 35 teaspoons per day. Sugar stores around your mid-section. Reduce sugar and reduce the spare tire. Core work exercise won’t do it. That will improve strength and protect your back but reducing sugar combined with exercising to elevate the heart rate will help reduce excess body fat.
Men, to naturally elevate your testosterone levels, especially as you age, add zinc to your diet. To lessen the “man boobs” and improve virility, choose zinc. Zinc balances hormones. It can be beneficial for women as well. Too much estrogen can cause female cancers. Excess body fat in females or males causes excess estrogen for both. Oysters contain the most zinc of any foods but it is found in lamb, beef, chickpeas, pumpkin seeds and cashews. You don’t need much 11 mg per day for men and 8 mg per day for women. Zinc also boosts the immune system, prevents diabetes and acts as a powerful antioxidant which prevents cancer. Moderate exercise on a regular basis and healthy eating habits reduce your risk of many diseases. Consider these supplements to further improve your longevity.
Holly Vanderzwet, B.P.E.
Fitness Corner and Fitness Corner South