Calcium, magnesium: Stress fighters

Dear Humorous Herbalist,I look forward to your column each week. I am interested about what you know about the effects of calcium and magnesium on the symptoms associated with pre-menopausal age women. I was told by my doctor that it can help reduce anxiety and relieve mild depression without side effects.Thank you!Cyndy (Glenwood Springs)Dear Cyndy,Your doctor is correct. Calcium and magnesium work alone and together to counteract stress, nervous agitation, emotional instability and depression. However, downing large amounts of calcium or magnesium supplements is not the way to benefit from either of these essential minerals. One usually needs no more than 1,000 milligrams of calcium and 400 milligrams of magnesium on a daily basis. Calcium citrate is considered one of the best ways to take calcium in supplement form, because it is absorbed into the system faster. Solaray puts out a Cal-Mag Citrate supplement that is available at any health food store. Calcium is found naturally in fairly large amounts in green leafy vegetables, kale, goat’s milk, alfalfa, parsley and oatstraw and stinging nettle tea/capsules. Magnesium, called the anti-stress mineral by some nutritionists, is absorbed more readily from foods and herbs that contain this valuable nutrient. Look for naturally occurring magnesium in wheat germ oil, avocados, almonds, all fresh berries, barley, kelp, red raspberry leaf tea, red clover tea, oatstraw and stinging nettle tea/capsules. (Note that both oatstraw and stinging nettle are rated high in both the calcium and magnesium category). I’m all for incorporating low doses of calcium citrate and magnesium via supplement form into your daily routine, simply because of the convenience. However, consider adding herbs such as oatstraw, nettle and red raspberry in either capsule or tea form every day as well. These herbs not only offer naturally occurring minerals, they also contribute to reducing stress, releasing excess water from the body and strengthening the veins, among many other attributes. Dear Humorous Herbalist,I usually eat two tablespoons of flax seed meal at breakfast. Do you have any idea how that translates into the recommended daily consumption of flax seed oil?Roxanne Morris (via e-mail) Dear Roxanne,There’s really no way to determine the exact oil content within that two tablespoons of ground flax meal. I will say that the oil content is far higher in freshly ground flax seeds than in the stored, pre-ground meal. I would suggest supplementing your ground flax seeds with 1,000 to 3,000 milligrams of flax seed oil daily to insure that you are getting a good dose of this essential fatty acid.The information in this column is not meant to take the place of your physician, nor is it intended to treat, diagnose or prescribe. Pregnant or nursing women should consult their doctor before using herbal therapy.E-mail your questions to The Humorous Herbalist at Dewey is extending the discount offer on autographed copies of her book, “The Humorous Herbalist.” Purchase two books for $10 each and receive a third book free. Send $20 plus $3 s&h to The Humorous Herbalist, P.O. Box 1984, Glenwood Springs, CO 81601. While supplies last, Laurel will include one copy of her second book, “Plant Power” for an additional $15. plus $3 s&h. Include names of the individuals receiving the books and Laurel will personalize the greeting.

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