By Elizabeth Foley
Traveling is exciting and evokes feelings of adventure, feeding the soul in so many wonderful ways. However, taking a trip comes with its own set of stressors that can leave even the most experienced traveler feeling depleted. Not to mention that in the era of COVID-19, there are higher levels of travel stress than ever before. So what can be done to effectively manage these stressors? It turns out there is a dietary supplement that has been proven to effectively address a number of travelers’ issues including: muscle stiffness, digestion, jet lag, stress, immunity and headaches. This useful supplement is magnesium. Here is how it can be effectively utilized while traveling.
It is important to prepare for travel as soon as a trip is booked. Of course, there are the obvious things: making sure passports and IDs are valid and up to date, packing a travel bag, and securing a place to stay. Then there are the equally important health preparations that can make traveling easier on the body. Too often, wellness is pushed to the wayside when undergoing the hustle and bustle that is required to get everything together before a trip. It is important to keep in mind that dietary supplements will be most effective if they are taken sooner rather than later. Depending upon the supplement, it can take anywhere from three to six weeks to kick in and feel noticeable benefits. For this reason, it is advisable to start taking magnesium as soon as possible. It is also important that magnesium is taken regularly to maintain consistent levels. Despite the stress and distractions that come from planning for a trip, health should remain a top priority. This means a traveler should be mindful and not forget to take their dietary supplements every day.
There is no shortage of opinions when it comes to staying healthy while traveling. It can be overwhelming to determine what advice is useful and what is a cleverly veiled marketing scheme. That is why it is important to rely on trusted sources of information. Research-backed tips should be based on peer-reviewed studies that aim to answer specific questions. A high quality research study doesn’t have a predetermined outcome in mind. Meaning, researchers do not work backwards to prove their hypothesis or personal opinion. Rather, researchers ask a specific question like, “How does traveling affect mental health?” then they evaluate the strength of evidence from a carefully designed research sample. Anecdotal evidence--factual claims based on personal experience--can also offer incredibly useful information. Though, it is important to keep in mind, what works for one person may not work for another. Another important factor when considering if a source is reliable is to find out the sample size of the study. A large sample size is very important to get statistically significant data. Anecdotes are, by definition, the experience of just one person. For that reason, magnesium is recommended on research-based evidence rather than anecdotal claims.
What does magnesium do for the body? Magnesium is an important nutrient for many bodily processes. As an essential mineral, magnesium is required to keep the body functioning properly.
There are several types of magnesium supplements that are easily absorbed by the body. The average daily recommended amount of magnesium for adult men is between 400-420 mg and adult women is between 310-320 mg.
Health By Principle’s Complete Magnesium Supplement is an ideal choice because it offers rapid absorption and does not contain any unwanted additives, fillers or sugar. The four essential magnesium types in this complete supplement are: Malate, Taurate, Glycinate and Citrate.
When searching for a magnesium supplement for travel, it is important to research the manufacturer. Carefully read the ingredients’ fine print to make sure the supplement’s formula aligns with your personal health needs. Also, double check the formula to make sure the supplement is free from any unhealthy or unwanted ingredients. It is highly recommended that a supplement with the Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) seal is purchased. Buying a supplement with a Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) seal on the bottle ensures they were produced under the highest safety standards.
Here are six ways magnesium supplements support the body and make traveling a more enjoyable experience.
1. Magnesium Supplements Decrease Muscle Cramps
Traveling requires sitting for an extended period of time--usually in a car, train or airplane. Muscle cramps are a common side effect from remaining seated in a small, confined area for long timeframes. Muscle cramps are especially common on long flights when it is difficult to stand up and stretch. Fortunately, magnesium is a great tool to help travelers manage those inevitable muscle cramps. After a long flight, travelers can ease muscle pain with magnesium by taking a supplement or drinking a glass of magnesium water. According to one study, magnesium supplements were found to be an effective treatment for the intensity and frequency of leg cramps with no significant side effects (1).
2. Magnesium Supplements Improve Digestion
Motion sickness, new foods, lack of access to fresh foods, and stress all contribute to digestive issues while traveling. Flying often disrupts the digestive system, so it is good to know that magnesium can help get digestion back on track. This is because magnesium plays an important role in healthy bowel movements. Research shows that drinking 500 ml of mineral water daily that is naturally rich in magnesium sulphate and sodium sulphate, reduces gastrointestinal discomfort and supports normal defecation (2).
3. Magnesium Supplements Improve Sleep
Jet lag is a huge issue when traveling because it disrupts the body's natural circadian rhythm. Even when jet lag is not an issue, traveling typically disrupts normal sleep patterns due to stress and unfamiliar or uncomfortable sleeping accommodations. Luckily, magnesium is a natural sleep aid. In fact, studies show that magnesium may be the key to better sleep at home and while traveling. A large-scale research review found that magnesium supplementation improves insomnia symptoms and circadian rhythms, ensuring quality sleep (3).
4. Magnesium Supplements Play a Role in Decreasing Stress
There is a connection between magnesium deficiency and stress that is especially important to understand when taking a trip. In a study that examined test anxiety, magnesium supplementation was shown to moderate the stress response (4). The beneficial relationship between the two is due to the essential role magnesium plays in a healthy response to stressors. High levels of magnesium are excreted through sweat when the body is confronted with a stressful situation. Low magnesium levels are detrimental to a healthy response to stressors because the body cannot relax efficiently. When the body has ideal magnesium levels, it is able to effectively manage activity in the hypothalamic pituitary adrenal axis, which is needed to calm the nervous system and return to a state of rest once a stressful situation has passed.
5. Magnesium Supplements can Improve Immunity
One of the worst possible times to come down with an illness is while traveling. To avoid illness before, during and after a trip, there are a number of precautions that should be taken. Good hygiene, especially hand washing, and masking up in germy areas are at the top of the health precautions list. Additionally, magnesium can be taken while traveling to strengthen immunity. Research shows there is an especially strong relationship between the immune system and magnesium. Magnesium is fundamental to the immune response because it is required for the execution of the most vital bodily functions that protect the body from illness (5). Low magnesium levels lead to a weaker immune response, increasing the risk of developing an illness when germs are encountered.
6. Magnesium Supplements can be used to Manage Headaches
Headaches are an exceptionally unfortunate occurrence for any traveler. Tension headaches are the result of tight muscles and happen frequently when sitting in cramped or uncomfortable positions for long stretches of time. Those who experience migraines or cluster headaches also report that travel is often a trigger. While reaching for a painkiller might be the first pain management tool that comes to mind, there is another option. Studies show that magnesium supplements can reduce the frequency and intensity of headaches. Research reveals that people who regularly experience headaches often have low levels of magnesium and points to magnesium supplements as being a well-tolerated, safe and inexpensive intervention for a variety of headache types (6).
Magnesium has an especially interesting relationship to migraines. Experts identify a migraine by their intense symptoms in comparison to a headache. Migraines last for several days, have pain on one side of the head, and occur with associated symptoms known as prodromes and postdromes. Since migraines are often debilitating, it is important to take every precaution possible to avoid one while traveling. One of the leading voices when it comes to the benefits of magnesium for migraine management is Dr. Angela Stanton, who is a migraine sufferer herself. Dr. Stanton has written a number of books which are helpful resources for anyone seeking a deeper understanding of magnesium's usefulness in warding off migraine pain. Dr. Stanton's book, Fighting the Migraine Epidemic, and specially formulated magnesium supplements are sold by Health By Principle in a bundle. This bundle is a practical tool for migraine sufferers to take along on a trip.
Here are additional tips that are useful for maintaining health and wellness on a trip:
1. Stay Hydrated
Make it a point to drink a healthy amount of water. Proper hydration improves sleep quality, cognition and mood, making traveling more enjoyable.
There are many benefits to stretching that are especially helpful during travel. Travelers who stretch frequently benefit from: improved posture, flexibility, and increased blood flow to muscles. Stretching is also linked to stress relief and feelings of calm particularly when combined with mindfulness.
3. Plan Healthy Meals and Snacks
Research the food offered in the area before traveling, then plan accordingly. Often, it is difficult to find nutritious foods at the airport, so it is a great idea to pack some healthy snacks. Opting for a green smoothie or other nutrient-dense foods will support energy levels and help you avoid the crash that is associated with junk foods.
4. Do Not Neglect Exercise
Remain consistent with exercise while traveling. Go for long walks and make an effort to stay active when taking a trip. Even if relaxing on the beach is the main goal, being active while traveling will help manage stress levels.
The benefits of maintaining healthy magnesium levels cannot be overstated. Unfortunately magnesium deficiency is often an overlooked health issue. It is currently estimated that half of all Americans are magnesium deficient. To learn more about magnesium dietary supplements and their potential to support overall health and wellness, visit Health By Principle.
In 2017 Health By Principle was founded with the intention of creating a natural aid for migraine sufferers. While Health By Principle continues to support migraine sufferers with the Fighting the Migraine Epidemic Package and other non-medical resources, they also promote healthier living with a variety of well-researched products.