By Leah Kleinschrodt, MS, RD, LD
As the days and weeks of the pandemic tick by, many people are feeling the weight of ongoing stress and are dealing with concern for the health of themselves and loved ones. To say that our coping skills have been stretched and challenged is quite an understatement!
Now with the arrival of the holidays and the end of the year wrapping up, these times might have you feeling even more overwhelmed, anxious, tight, stiff, or “tired but wired” at night and unable to sleep. To help you get through the season (or any super stressful time in your life), let me suggest two basic supplements that are always at the forefront of my mind: magnesium and melatonin.
I don’t know if all dietitians have a favorite mineral, but I do. It’s magnesium. What does magnesium do for us? Magnesium is crucial for EVERY cell in our body, as it drives the process that creates ATP (energy!) for our cells. I also say to my clients “magnesium = relaxation.” Magnesium helps to balance our nervous system and shift us into “rest and digest” mode instead of “fight or flight” mode.1 Magnesium has been shown to reduce anxiety and support sleep.2,3 And if you suffer from Charlie horses, restless legs, eye twitches, or tension headaches/migraines, magnesium is a must in your nutritional arsenal.4
The form of magnesium you take makes a big difference in its effectiveness. Magnesium Glycinate is the most absorbable form of magnesium which is why Magnesium Glycinate 100 (or 75 in the capsule form) is my go-to product! I recommend clients take 200-600 mg before bed. Additional magnesium may be taken during the day to help manage daytime stress and anxiety.
If you struggle with constipation in addition to the above symptoms, Mixed Magnesium is your option. It combines magnesium glycinate with magnesium citrate to promote a smoother daily bathroom experience. 200-400mg of Mixed Magnesium before bed is a good place for most people to start.
Bonus: for the month of December, all NutriKey magnesiums are 15% off as Product of the Month to help you reduce stress and get the zzz’s you need!
Melatonin is a hormone produced in the brain in response to darkness. Essentially, it’s the signal that tells us it is time for sleep. Melatonin is also known for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects.5 A few years ago, Dr Robert Rakowski joined the nutritionists at Nutritional Weight & Wellness to do a show on Dishing Up Nutrition where he described how melatonin is important to managing our adrenal glands and stress response.
If you’re having trouble getting to sleep or finding that your normal circadian rhythm is a bit off with the added stress you’ve been feeling, you’re not alone. We’re telling clients to start by eliminating these 5 Foods and Drinks Sabotaging Your Sleep. If you’ve checked those boxes, a little melatonin may help with better overall sleep. It’s worth trying out!
To use our melatonin products, place the tablet under your tongue and let it dissolve about 30 minutes before you want to be asleep. Keep in mind that you may need to do a little experimenting to find an appropriate amount of melatonin for you. Some people notice a difference with 0.5 or 1mg, while others may benefit from up to of 10-15mg. A good rule of thumb is to start low and go slow. If you get to the point where you are very groggy upon waking in the morning, just decrease your dose by 1-2mg until you are able to fall asleep easily and wake in the morning easily.
For the nutritionists and dietitians at our sister company Nutritional Weight & Wellness, I want to mention again that food is always where we start. Check out this powerful Dishing Up Nutrition podcast that shared What to Eat to Manage Anxiety or Stressed Out; Not Sleeping? Nutritional Solutions To The Rescue episode for more tips on the nutrition piece of the puzzle. Support your efforts with food to decrease your stress by giving magnesium or melatonin a try, so you can sleep like a bear in hibernation this winter.