As we walk past beauty store after beauty store on the high street, we’re overwhelmed by a plethora of essential oil aromas that waft from tubs of skincare masks, body washes and relaxation mists. But what got Andrew Thomas ticking was not the delicate scent of ylang ylang, or a refreshing spritz of peppermint oil; it was magnesium.
“I’m an asthmatic, and I’ve been on steroid-based inhalers since the age of 12. But when I was told to lower my dairy and calcium intake, and to increase magnesium, and especially my magnesium supplementation, it basically transformed my life. I’ve been clean of these inhalers for 10 years now,” Andrew tells me, with much gusto in his voice.
Inspired by this revelation, and now on a mission to educate people of its importance, Andrew founded BetterYou back in April 2007 to make transdermal magnesium a commercial and central part of our daily routines.
He tells me that since the Industrial Revolution, roughly 150-200 years ago, our diets have declined in mineral content so aggressively that some are vastly underrepresented in our bodies. This is specific to the Western diet, which is high in calcium at the expense of magnesium intake, due to our increased dairy consumption and reluctance to eat whole grains and dark, leafy green vegetables.
“We really should be eating at a 1:1, maybe 2:1 ratio of calcium to magnesium. But what we’re finding in some people is that the ratio is actually 40:1. According to the National Diet and Nutrition Survey, which looks at the consumption of all vitamins and minerals in UK households, our magnesium intake is deplorable!”
The survey states that 80% of over-60s have an intake that is deemed deficient, and 53% of teenage girls have magnesium levels so low that it is equivalent to growth deficiency. Showing numbers that gradually seem to be getting worse, the survey highlights the need to confront the issue immediately.
“It’s a problem that we’re seeing manifested in so many different ways, and it’s only getting worse. This increased calcification of the body means stiffening of the muscles, poor joint health, poor sleep patterns, increased respiratory issues, low energy levels, headaches – these are all classic symptoms of low magnesium levels. BetterYou is for people who are struggling with such problems, and want a natural, non-drug based solution,” insists Andrew.
His introduction to magnesium came as a result of a chance meeting with bio-chemist Juan Rosello, who works closely with American sports teams (most notably the Miami Dolphins) to improve muscle recovery. What Rosello shared was that athletes struggled to replenish magnesium levels after tremendous amounts of exercise and exertion, and its deficiency in the body was seen as the cause of increased muscle cramping.
So taking on this new-found information, and heading to The Zechstein Inside Mine in Northern Holland to source highly soluble magnesium chloride, Andrew has made it his job to rectify this magnesium epidemic one bag of bath salts at a time.
The transdermal (where the administration of active ingredients takes place through the skin) application of BetterYou products is special in that it avoids the digestive system, meaning that magnesium supplementation has no negative effects, as opposed to its slight laxative qualities if too much is consumed orally (“magnesium, after all, is nature’s relaxant!”). What’s even better is that we can’t be allergic to it, seeing that it is a mineral we are born with.
“What’s wonderful is that magnesium is completely universal. This is a universal mineral, and by applying on the skin, the application universal, too. You can give it to babies and infants, to pregnant mothers, and basically anyone! A bath, in magnesium-rich water, is perfect for muscle relaxation, and to replenish the minerals we’ve lost during the day,” Andrew explains, telling me that his own wife, who is eight months along, has been reaping the benefits of the bestselling BetterYou Magnesium Flakes every night.
When asked for his opinion on the use of essential oils in wellness products, Andrew stresses the importance of attaining physiological benefits before the psychological.
“Essential oils certainly do enhance the experience, but we are very much in the camp of making the physiological benefits first. It has to be efficacious, and it has to have a noticeable benefit to people. The engine room has to be the active ingredient that has an impact on the body.”
Therein lies the beauty of BetterYou products, which have an instant impact upon use, instead of a gradual effect on the body. This is brilliant for sufferers of Restless Leg Syndrome, a condition that keeps 5-6 million UK residents awake at night, as a single soak in a magnesium bath, or a quick pre-sleep massage with the MagnesiumOil Goodnight Spray, can result in a smoother night’s sleep almost immediately.
Under the supervision of Dr Charles Heard, Andrew states that BetterYou is on its way to bigger and better things. Its research extends to a multitude of institutions and clinics across Europe, but most notably is the research done in collaboration with the NHS in St Mark’s Hospital, London, to stabilise and increase magnesium levels for patients suffering from extreme gastric trauma and malabsorption. “These are the first clinical inpatient trails of transdermal magnesium in the world, and we’re very proud of the progress we’re seeing so far,” claims Andrew.
And when it works for patients with severe issues, it’s bound to benefit those with insomnia, muscle tension and fatigue. But while there’s work being done to find superior methods of absorbing underrepresented vitamins and minerals in the body (particularly vitamin D) to improve our malnourished, misused guts, Andrew is firm in that any research done to improve sleep quality can only be honed by an individual’s dedication to regular habits.
“The key to letting our bodies and minds switch-off in preparation for sleep is a set routine. This is why we have a wide spread of our magnesium range, because we want people to apply it in whatever form they’re comfortable with to relax before sleep. Be it the lotion, or the oil, whatever it is, just do it regularly, and stick to a routine.”
Because, as Andrew so poetically says: “we’re not trying to make super-humans of us, we’re just trying to get us back to the way nature intended us to be. How we should be. And BetterYou is there to focus on the key nutrients to push us in the right direction, for better sleep, and better quality of life.”