”Hé? HSP and magnesium?” I hear you thinking 😊 Yes, for the highly-sensitive among us, it is very important to get enough magnesium.
What is a HSP?
Highly sensitive people (HSP) are also known as empaths and are characterized by a high degree of sensory sensitivity. This occurs in about 15 to 20 percent of the population. They experience the world in high-definition. When they are unaware of their personality type and lack the skills to deal with it, their high-definition is "on" all the time.
Highly sensitive people face powerful forces that tend to serve or sabotage them, depending on how those forces are applied. By nature, they are environmental sponges, soaking up the energy, noise, crowds, emotions of everyone they come in contact with and absorbing the external stimuli directly into their bodies. By the time night falls, they are "tense and tired" - exhausted from the world and often hyper from the excess energy they have absorbed.
Magnesium is used by the body as a buffer against stressors. The more stress (internal or external) the faster your magnesium runs out. In turn, a magnesium deficiency increases the body's sensitivity to stress.
HSP's tend to shut themselves off from the world as a coping mechanism. Because of their thin/weak/porous boundaries and high degree of empathy, HSPs often attract people with conflicts and strong emotional reactions. (For more info and tips on setting boundaries see STEP 2 of the 8-Step Transformation) They are also more prone to complex health problems such as allergies, chronic anxiety, burn-out and auto-imum disease. Often emotions are held for a long time which translates into psychosomatic complaints.
Characteristics of high sensitivity are:
Being quickly overwhelmed by bright lights, loud noises and pungent smells
Feeling inhibited by severe time pressure;
Feel the need to avoid people with high drama, violent TV shows and disturbing situations
Being more susceptible to addiction, especially alcohol abuse and overeating
Can enjoy a complex and colorful inner life
Prefer close, deep relationships to a large group of acquaintances
Have strong intuitive gifts and can make forward-looking observations
Are attracted to spiritual, artistic and helping/supporting professions
Need a lot of quiet time to process, decompress and reflect
Often being told as a child to be "too sensitive," or being a gifted student at school
On brain scans of highly sensitive people, it was seen that their amygdala reacted hypersensitively. This part of the brain decodes fear and acts as the body's alarm circuit. Because this area overreacts, HSP's are much more prone to panic disorders, PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), NSS (narcissistic stress syndrome) and inflammation. (For more info regarding narcissism see STEP 7 of the 8-Step Transformation)
An HSP's body has a hypersensitive nervous system, an amplified stress response and high stimulus barrier. In short: stress.
What is Magnesium?
Magnesium is a fundamental nutrient whose role in human health is widely recognized. It is considered important for the functioning of many reactions of the human body.
In the early 1990s, it was discovered that there is a vicious cycle between stress and magnesium deficiency. Magnesium is used by the body as a buffer against stressors. The more stress (internal or external) the faster your magnesium runs out. In turn, a magnesium deficiency increases the body's sensitivity to stress.
Deficiency can increase the risk of physical and mental health problems. The symptoms of magnesium deficiency and stress are very similar:
Symptoms of stress
Symptoms of magnesium deficiency
Feeling irritated or anxious
Feeling nervous or restless
Feeling slightly anxious or nervous / agitated
Feeling low on energy
Stomach and intestinal cramps
Feeling sad or depressed
Chest pain or hyperventilation
Magnesium has a calming effect on muscles and the nervous system. It helps our muscles relax. It is a basic substance for almost all other minerals and it is needed to make your absorbed vitamin D active in your body. Furthermore, magnesium ensures the production of serotonin (neurotransmitter with stimulating effect) and dopamine (neurotransmitter for satisfaction and feeling happy). And ensures the production of melatonin (hormone that takes care of our body's sleep-wake rhythm).
The recommended daily amount of magnesium is 300-400 mg /day, and is mainly found in nuts, seeds, kernels, cocoa powder (dark chocolate), meat, fish, legumes, (green) vegetables and dairy products.
Magnesium is not properly absorbed if you eat too many refined carbohydrates (sugar) and are too high in grain consumption (pasta, bread, white rice, ...).
HSP's in particular are deficient in magnesium because they are more likely to be "on" (in high definition!). Given the vicious cycle between stress and magnesium, it is important for a high-sensitive person to have enough magnesium. For an HSP, this can mean a huge difference in how they can hold their own in this overwhelming world.