Magnesium, The Mineral Superstar!

Magnesium, The Mineral Superstar!

Alexis Reid1 comment

 

When it comes to minerals, there is one clear cut superstar, magnesium! Magnesium is involved in over 300 reactions in the body.

Magnesium plays a major role in:

  • Bone Development and Maintenance
  • Blood Sugar Control
  • Heart Rhythms
  • Muscle Contractions
  • Blood Pressure Regulation
  • Regulating Stress Hormones

50-60% of the body’s stores of magnesium are present in the bones, with the remainder being found in the soft tissue. This makes levels difficult to assess via a blood test. How do you know if you are low in magnesium?

10 Signs You Could Have A Magnesium Deficiency

  • Under A Lot of Stress- This is a double edged sword, as stress causes magnesium deficiency and being deficient in magnesium amplifies the body’s stress response.
  • Anxiety and Insomnia-The nervous system needs adequate amounts of magnesium to function properly.
  • Muscle Cramps/Spasms/Pain and Eye Twitches- Magnesium is required for muscle relaxation.
  • More than 7 Alcoholic Beverages/Week- Alcohol increases magnesium excretion by the kidneys.
  • Taking Calcium Supplements Without Magnesium or Without Magnesium in a 1:1 Ratio- When magnesium levels are low calcium supplementation may further lower magnesium. Magnesium helps calcium to get absorbed into the bones and helps prevent excess calcium from forming plaques in the arteries.
  • Chocolate Cravings- It’s not just the sugar your body is craving, it’s the magnesium
  • Taking a Diuretic, Heart Medication, Asthma Medication, Birth Control Pills, or Estrogen Replacement Therapy- These types of drugs increase magnesium excretion by the kidneys.
  • Drinking Coffee or Tea Daily- The caffeine in coffee and tea causes the kidneys to excrete more magnesium.
  • Regularly Eating Desserts, Candies and Other Sweets- Refined sugar also increases the body’s excretion of magnesium.
  • Drinking Carbonated Beverages Regularly- Phosphates in carbonated beverages bind with magnesium in the digestive track making it not able to be absorbed by the body.

 Foods That Are High In Magnesium 

  • Pumpkin Seeds- 1/4 cup provides 48% of daily needs.
  • Spinach- 1 cup provides 39% of daily needs.
  • Swiss Chard- 1 cup provides 38% of daily needs.
  • Sesame Seeds- 1/4 cup provides 32% of daily needs.
  • Cashews- ¼ cup provides 29% of daily needs

 In my practice, I see many patients that benefit from magnesium supplementation. I routinely use magnesium to help treat

Magnesium has minimal side effects. The one major side effect to look out for is loose stools. If someone is getting lose stools, it means that they are taking too high of a magnesium dose. I generally recommend starting with 200 mg of magnesium bisglycinate before bed and increasing to 800 mg over a few days, as long as stools have not become too loose.

For people experiencing constipation, I recommend they take magnesium citrate as it is even more likely to cause loose stools.

Another way to get magnesium into the body, and to practice some vital self-care, is by taking Epsom Salt baths. Epsom Salts are magnesium sulphate and they are quite effective at reducing muscle and joint pain. To get the full effect from the bath, add 1-2 cups of Epsom Salts to the bath and soak for at least 20 min.

Magnesium is generally well tolerated, and has a low risk of interaction, but you should talk to your health care provider before taking it if you are taking and medications

 

Talk Soon,

Dr Alexis

Dr Alexis practices in Kanata and is accepting new patients. To book your appointment, click here.

 

 

Read more →

How To Get Your Best Sleep After Having a Baby

How To Get Your Best Sleep After Having a Baby

Alexis Reid

 

It comes as no surprise that in the 6-12 months (if you are lucky!) after having a baby, mom’s amount of sleep is GREATLY reduced. There isn’t a tonne that can be done about the amount of sleep you get in the early days beyond making sure that you are taking advantage of every opportunity to sleep. What can be helped is the quality of your sleep. It typically takes 90 min after falling asleep to enter into the Rapid Eye Movement (REM) cycle. The first REM cycle is short and they become progressively longer over the night, which is one of the reasons that it is advantageous to sleep uninterrupted for longer periods of time. It is during REM sleep that the brain and body get a chance to heal from the day and stay healthy. If you do not have dreams while you are sleeping it can be an indication that you are not getting into REM sleep. For many new mom’s it is not possible to sleep for long periods of time, as baby is still frequently waking. In the blog post I will focus on how you can get the best quality of sleep even if it is for a limited amount of time.

Negative Effects of Not Getting Good Quality Sleep

  • Increased Food Cravings- For high fat and calorie/sugar foods. Lack of sleep reduces the hormone leptin, which helps suppress appetite and increases ghrelin which stimulates hunger. It’s not your willpower…it’s your hormones! Speaking of hormones…
  • Increased Cortisol- Lack of sleep puts stress on your body making it release more of the stress hormone cortisol. Higher levels of cortisol make it harder to fall asleep, increase anxiety and increase food cravings.
  • Lack of Energy- Our bodies need sleep to repair and regenerate. Without this rest period you can be left feeling like you are always running on empty.

How to Make the Most of Your Sleep

Diet

  • Avoid caffeine After 12 noon- Caffeine has a half-life of 12-18 depending on how fast you can metabolize it. If you are having a coffee at 3-4 pm it can definitely be keeping you awake at 2 am.
  • Blood Sugar Regulation- People who wake up between 1-3 am can be experiencing a blood sugar crash. One way to correct this problem is to have a small protein filled snack before bed. Good options include: handful of nuts and seeds, a small piece of meat or a hard boiled egg
  • Stop the Pop- Between the sugar and the caffeine it is a recipe for disaster, and I know what you are thinking but diet pop is no better. Diet pop leaves your body craving the sugar it expected to receive from the sweet taste, and leads to over eating.

Exercise/Lifestyle

  • No Strenuous Exercise 3 Hours Before Bed- Exercise is a great thing, but timing is important. Intense exercise can raise cortisol levels (which is ok as long as you do not have adrenal fatigue). Naturally our cortisol levels should be highest in the morning and falling at night. Nighttime strenuous exercise disrupts your body’s natural rhythms.
  • Yoga- A relaxing flow or yin yoga before bed can help shift the body into the parasympathetic (rest and digest) state and decrease the amount of time it takes to fall asleep.
  • Deep Breathing- Breathing deeply where the abdomen goes out instead of the chest has been shown to reduce cortisol. Try 10 deep breaths before bed.

Sleep Hygiene

  • Room Temperature- The room you sleep in should be kept cool (under 20°C). This helps the body enter into REM sleep and to produce more melatonin (the sleep hormone).
  • Darkness- Even small amounts of light disrupt the body’s sleep cycles. Use blackout curtains, no night lights or alarm clock screens.
  • Avoid Screens ½ Hour Before Bed- The light emitted from screens tricks the brain into thinking it is day time, which is not conducive to sleep. Try reading for a ½ hour before bed instead. Ereaders can be used in bed if they are set to look like the page of a book. Reading off of a bright tablet counts as screen time.

      Supplements

  • Magnesium Glycinate- Magnesium calms the nervous system, promotes relaxation, decreases cravings (especially for chocolate), increases insulin sensitivity, reduces muscle cramps, relieves constipation and helps to lower cortisol. Dosage: 200-800 mg ½ hour before bed. Start at 200 mg and keep increasing dosage until you reach bowel tolerance (ie. develop loose stools). It is safe for use during breastfeeding at a dosage of 350 mg/day or less.
  • Chamomile Tea- Helps to calm the nervous system and promote sleep. A cup 60-90 min before bed can result in a more restful sleep. This tea is safe for use while breastfeeding.
  • B Vitamins- Help the body to regulate stress and can help give you more energy during the day. Dosage: 100 mg of each of the B Vitamins. Take in the morning, as it can help to increase energy. This is also safe for use during breastfeeding.

Use these tips to establish a healthy routine that will help you sleep better, even if you are getting less sleep than you used to now that your little one has arrived.

I hope you implement at least a few of these tips into your daily routine and start feeling more rested!

 

Talk Soon,

Dr Alexis

 

Dr Alexis practices in Stittsville at Living Science Wellness Centre. Call 613.836.7901 to book your appointment.

Naturopathic Medicine is covered by most extended insurance benefits 

Read more →

What Has Happened To Me?! Understanding Your Postpartum Body

What Has Happened To Me?! Understanding Your Postpartum Body

Alexis Reid

 

First off, I want to start by saying your body has just done something truly remarkable! Let’s take a second to think about and acknowledge what you have managed to do in the last 9 months….grow a human! Think about how much energy that took, how many nutrients the little guy or girl drained from you, and how much harder your body had to work for the last 9 months.

New moms are constantly bombarded with the idea of “bouncing back” and how long that is going to take, all while being given the message, the sooner the better by the media. But the truth of the matter is it took 40 weeks for your body to adjust to your pregnancy, and it takes at least that long for your body to recover. Also, there shouldn’t be the assumption that your body will ever go back to the way it was before. It is not assumed that your body will be the same when you are 60 as it was when you were 20! Similarly, after having a baby, your body has gone through a huge life change and may not return exactly to its pre-pregnancy state. Many women’s ribcages expand, their feet grow, or their hair changes texture and these are all normal.

With that being said, there is still a tonne that can be done to help you feel your best postpartum! One of the biggest barriers to feeling like yourself is lack of sleep. Take a minute to think about how you felt when you didn’t get enough sleep pre-baby. Maybe you were up late studying for exams or getting work done. Chances are that you didn’t feel so great! That was only one of the challenges you are facing now, so don’t be so hard on yourself.

How to get Better Quality Sleep

1) Sleep in a cool and 100% dark room

2) Avoid Screens for ½ hour before bed. Screens stimulate your body to make              cortisol, which hinders sleep and can increase the risk of postpartum depression

3) An Epsom salt bath can help you feel more relaxed, by allowing your body absorbing magnesium, which helps with sleep

4) Have the baby sleep wherever you get the best rest, be it in your bed (safely), beside your bed or in another room (if they are old enough)

5) Go to bed when you are tired. Do not try to “push through” and get things done in the evening as often this leads to a second wind which keeps you awake.

 

How to Have More Energy and Get Back to Feeling Like Yourself

1) Seek Help! Don’t try to do it all yourself. A great shower gift for a new mom is some prepared meals, or help with cleaning. Looking after a new baby is a full time job.

2) Drink Plenty of Water. This will help you feel better and also helps with breast milk supply.

3) Bone Broth is your friend. Bone broth contains an abundance of minerals and is easily digestible. Check out one of my favorite easy ways to make bone broth here. The beef bones can be easily substituted for chicken. 

4) Eat Whole, Easily Digestible Foods. Soups, stews, and cooked veggies are great in helping with recovery and helping to make sure your body is getting what it needs.

5) Keep taking your prenatal vitamins. Your body needs those extra nutrients for at least the first 3 months. After 3 months you should be assess by your health care provider to see if you should continue with single supplements (iron, B12, fish oil are commonly needed).

6) Enjoy a Nutritive Tea. This nutritive tea is high in calcium, iron, selenium, chlorophyll and helps uterus return to its pre-pregnancy state. It is safe with breastfeeding and you can have up to 3 cups a day. To make this tea mix together equal parts: Alfalfa (helps promote breastmilk production), Nettle (high in iron), Red Raspberry (helps tone the uterus) and Oatstraw (high in minerals). Take 1 tsp of the blend and steep it in 1 cup of water for at least 10 min. Strain and enjoy.

7) Deep Belly Breathing. Taking deep breaths, where your stomach goes out, not your chest, can help to lower the stress hormone cortisol. Lowering cortisol helps you to get better sleep, reduce the risk of postpartum depression and encourages breastmilk production.

 

This is the first in a series of posts I will be doing on all things postpartum. I hope you found this informative and have left with some tips that are easy for you to implement.

 

If there is anything relating to postpartum that you would like me to write about in a future post, please leave a comment below.

 

Talk Soon,

Dr. Alexis

 

Dr Alexis practices in Kanata and is accepting new patients. To schedule your appointment, click here.  

Read more →

How to Help Manage Postpartum Anxiety Using Foods, Vitamins and Herbs

How to Help Manage Postpartum Anxiety Using Foods, Vitamins and Herbs

Alexis Reid2 comments

In my last post we went over what the symptoms of postpartum anxiety are and what factors make someone more likely to suffer from it. In today’s post I am going to discuss ways to help manage postpartum anxiety naturally. As you have seen, anxiety can have multiple different causes and present in many different ways, making the proper treatment of anxiety very individualized. You should always consult with a naturopathic doctor before starting any vitamin/mineral or herbal regime to insure that you are taking safe and therapeutic doses, there are no interactions with any other supplements or medications that you may be taking, and that what you are taking is safe while breast feeding. Just because something is natural, does not automatically mean that it is safe.

It was discussed that increased cortisol was one of the major physiological factors for postpartum anxiety. As you will see, many of the suggestions are aimed at normalizing cortisol levels

  • Diet

What you are eating on a daily basis is the single biggest factor in helping to manage your anxiety.

  1. Blood Sugar Regulation- when blood sugar is going up and down and not remaining stable it can cause symptoms of anxiety (racing heart, palpitations, dizziness, nausea). Eating too many carbs and sugar without enough protein and fat can put your blood sugar on a roller coaster ride. Remember to eat regularly and to have healthy proteins and fats at every meal. The body sees this up and down in blood sugar as a physiological stress and it causes cortisol to increase further
  2. Coffee- too much coffee, more than 2 cups a day, can have negative impact on both blood sugar regulation and cortisol, leaving you feeling jittery, increasing heart rate, and creating sleeping problems. Coffee should only be consumed before noon
  3. Green Tea- I get it, you need some caffeine!! Try substituting some of that coffee for green tea. Green tea also contains caffeine, but it also is high in theanine, which helps lower cortisol
  4. Fruits and Vegetables- eating a wide variety helps to correct nutrient deficiencies

 

  • Lifestyle/Self-Care
  1. Making time for me time- Even if is it only 10 min/day. Find small segments of time to do what you enjoy
  2. Get Outside- Many studies have shown that mood is lifted and anxiety is decreased with exposure to fresh air. Bonus, it can also make you and your baby sleep better
  3. Get Moving- Exercise releases endorphins which naturally make you feel better and less anxious…but don’t over do it. Too much exercise can increase cortisol. Aim for 30 min of moderate exercise (walking, yoga, strength training) 3-5 days a week.
  4. Breathe- Deep breathing physiologically lowers cortisol, and it’s easy to do! When you are feeling anxious try taking 10 deep breaths where your belly moves out and your chest stays in
  5. Get Help- If you do not have family or friends around who are helpful and supportive consider hiring a postpartum doula

 

  • Sleep
  1. No Coffee After Noon. Coffee has a half-life (how long it takes half of it to leave your system) of up to 12 hours so that coffee you drank at noon can be keeping you up at midnight
  2. Keep Your Room Cool and Dark- helps you get a deeper sleep
  3. Embrace Naps
  4. Keep Lights Dim When Up During the Night. Cortisol and the sleep hormone melatonin work opposite to each other. At night cortisol should be low and melatonin should be high. Exposure to light at night can throw off this balance

 

  • Hormonal Balance

Managing cortisol levels allow for more pregnenolone (the precursor hormone) to be available for the production of estrogen, progesterone, testosterone and DHEA. Cortisol also has a love hate relationship with oxytocin. Oxytocin one of the hormones that controls lactation and is necessary for proper bonding. When cortisol is high, it causes oxytocin to be lower. So how can we manage cortisol levels?

  1. Magnesium and Vitamin B6- these two nutrients help take pregnenolone (precursor hormone) and get it to make progesterone instead of cortisol.
  2. Ashwaganda- increases dopamine (a feel good hormone that helps support lactation) receptors in the brain while reducing the anxiety producing effects of norepinephrine. It is also an Adaptogenic herb, which helps combat the effects of stress
  3. Nettle- high in vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants. Helps support thyroid function and the adrenal glands
  4. Passionflower- helps to lower cortisol, reduce anxiety and increase GABA
  5. GABA- is an inhibitory neurotransmitter. It helps to calm the excitement of the nervous system (the fight or flight response) and helps reduce cortisol
  6. Acupuncture- has a calming effect on the nervous system, has been shown to reduce cortisol and can help with hormonal balance

 

  • Nutrient Deficiencies

Your pregnancy has most likely left you with a few key nutrient deficiencies.

  1. Vitamin B6- The birth control pill is well known to deplete vitamin B6. If you were on the pill prior to conception you have a high risk of being deficient. Another symptom of deficiency is morning sickness. If you experienced this it is also quite probable that you are deficient
  2. Magnesium- Magnesium is involved in over 300 reactions in the body and gets used up more rapidly when you are under stress. Magnesium can help reduce anxiety symptoms and help you sleep better
  3. Vitamin D- If you live in a climate with 4 seasons, the sun is not at a proper angle for you to make vitamin D via the skin from Oct-May. Deficiency can have a negative impact on mood
  4. Omega 3 Fatty Acids- Help reduce cortisol levels, increase mood, and are great for babies brain development

There have been studies showing supplementation with a good quality multivitamin helps improve psychological wellbeing. In my practice, I generally recommend that moms either continue taking their prenatal vitamin or a good quality multivitamin for 3-4 months postpartum.

As I said previously, these are general suggestions for ways to help manage anxiety naturally. All supplementation should be monitored by your Naturopathic Doctor to make sure they are being used in a safe and effective manner.

I hope you found those suggestions helpful. Have you had something help your anxiety? Please post it in the comments below

 

Talk Soon, 

Dr Alexis

 

Dr Alexis practices in Kanata, and is accepting new patients. To book your appointment click here.

 

Naturopathic Medicine is covered by most extended healthcare benefits

 

 

 

 

 

Read more →