You need magnesium-rich foods, plus probably an oral supplement in your everyday life. Magnesium oil is a highly-absorbable form taken in by your skin. It's amazing. You should make it and use it. (Skip to "How You Can Help Yourself", #4 below for further info.)
The longer read:
Chances are, you are magnesium deficient. The reason so many of us (up to 80% of North Americans, according to various sources) are lacking this essential mineral is due to overconsumption of medications and drugs (alcohol, for instance), a poor diet, and/or eating whole foods that are not as magnesium-rich as they are suppose to be (due to depletion of minerals in the soil from over-farming).
Why does this matter? Well, magnesium is responsible for facilitating over 300 enzyme functions in our bodies. Some of its more urgent responsibilities include nerve function, protein synthesis, blood sugar balancing, neurotransmitter control, muscle relaxation (including the heart muscle), regulating blood pressure, and energy metabolism.
Magnesium deficiency can manifest in a variety of ways. A few examples: hormone imbalance, migraines, irritability, anxiety, depression, fatigue or chronic fatigue, PMS, muscle cramps or weakness, back pain, tendonitis, tremors, nausea, loss of appetite, memory problems, kidney stones, bowel irregularity, angina, arrhythmia, hypertension, and type 2 diabetes. This is not an extensive list.
How You Can Help Yourself:
1) reduce the amount of alcohol and processed foods you consume. This will allow your body to absorb and use magnesium more efficiently. Many prescription drugs are also responsible for depleting the body of this essential mineral (as well as other vitamins and nutrients).
2) improve your intake of magnesium-containing foods, such as: spinach, Swiss chard, almonds, cashews, pumpkin seeds, avocados, figs, cultured yogurt or kefir, salmon, black beans, artichokes, coriander, goat cheese.
3) consider taking an oral magnesium supplement. There are different forms of magnesium available, with the best options being one of the chelated magnesium supplements (where it is bound to amino acids for better absorption), such as "magnesium glycinate" or "magnesium malate" (this last one is especially good for symptoms of chronic fatigue or fibromyalgia). A cheaper option is called "magnesium citrate" and is good for those that are looking for a general, everyday supplement. This type of magnesium can loosen stools at higher dosages, so it's not necessarily a great choice for those who already have loose stools or those that have a health condition which would require a higher daily dosage.
4) use magnesium oil. This is a highly absorbable form of transdermal magnesium which arrives directly at the site where you want some extra help! You can use it on sore or injured muscles, bruises and stiff or injured joints. If you don't have any of those problems, use it on thighs and/or stomach to up your magnesium intake. See below for instructions on how to make it yourself, or contact me if you'd like to purchase a pre-made bottle!
How To Make Magnesium Oil:
Purchase magnesium chloride flakes (Epsom salts are also a magnesium salt but that form is called magnesium sulfate, which has a much lower absorption rate and leaves white residue on your skin) and combine roughly equal parts distilled water with magnesium chloride flakes until you get a saturated solution (remember middle school science class??). A good starting amount is half a cup of water with half a cup of flakes. Just leave it on the counter for a few days until all the flakes have dissolved, or if your not into passive science, you can stir it or even heat the water before adding the flakes. Once the solution is at room temperature, you can even add a few drops of essential oils if you're into that sort of thing. Rub some on your skin every night before bed, or spray it on if you have a small empty spray bottle. This stuff is awesome!
Although two blood tests exist to check your magnesium levels, neither provide an accurate measure of the magnesium levels inside your body's tissues. Due to the magnitude of biochemical responsibility of this mineral, magnesium levels change rapidly. So, a snapshot in time of your blood serum magnesium level or your red blood cell magnesium level (the two available blood tests) won't tell you very much, although the red blood cell test is at least an indication of how much magnesium is inside your red blood cells at that particular moment. A normal reading on a either of these magnesium tests will provide a false sense of security about your body's magnesium status. It also explains why many health care providers do not recognize or treat magnesium deficiency.