Are you looking to boost your sports performance, gain that competitive edge and improve recovery? Don’t overlook the essential mineral magnesium – even small shortfalls in magnesium intake can inhibit athletic performance.
Magnesium is the fourth-most abundant mineral in the body, with approximately 60 percent of it found in bone and 30 percent in skeletal and cardiac muscle. It is involved in over 300 biochemical reactions in the body and is crucial for energy production, muscle function, protein synthesis and insulin metabolism. Yet magnesium is one of the most common nutritional deficiencies seen in athletes resulting in reduced performance, lactic acid build up, muscle cramping and poor recovery.
Performance: Magnesium is vital for the conversion of glycogen to glucose – the body’s main fuel during exercise. Without sufficient levels the body switches to anaerobic metabolism resulting in a build-up of lactic acid and associated muscle soreness and spasms. This means if you are low in magnesium you are likely to feel tired and be low in energy. It influences protein metabolism making it important for strength and power.
Bone Health: If you’re concerned about bone health it’s worth remembering that while calcium is important it needs adequate levels of magnesium and vitamin D. Magnesium activates cellular enzyme activity, allowing the body to convert vitamin D into its active form to help with calcium absorption and bone building.
Recovery: Magnesium together with calcium is essential for optimal muscle function. A deficiency in magnesium can result in muscle and nerve twitches, spasms and cramping. Heavy exercisers often experience a build up of lactic acid, shin splints and sore, painful muscles during and after exercise. Having sufficient magnesium helps speed up recovery, reduce fatigue and avoid injuries.
Body Composition: Low magnesium levels will decrease your insulin sensitivity, making it harder for you to lose fat and get lean.
Magnesium deficiency runners, endurance athletes and people who exercise regularly are at a greater risk of magnesium deficiency due to its role in energy production and metabolism. It is also lost through sweat during exercise as well as urine.
Signs and Symptoms of Magnesium Deficiency
- Arrhythmia of the heart
- Asthma, wheezing
- Food cravings e.g carbohydrate, chocolate, salt
- Headaches and migraines
- Muscle cramps and spasms
- Muscle twitching around the eyes
- Numbness in hands and feet
- Aches and pains after exercise
- Poor recovery following exercise
- Low bone density, osteoporosis
- Frequent mood swings, including depression
Top food sources include unrefined whole grains (like brown rice), green leafy vegetables, nuts, pumpkin seeds, quinoa, dark chocolate, avocadoes and lentils. Some fish such as halibut and mackerel.
The UK recommended intake for magnesium is 300mg. But if exercising take a higher dose, preferably at bedtime.
You can supplement internally and externally.
The best forms of supplemental magnesium are ones chelated to an amino acid such as magnesium gluconate, citrate, fumarate or malate.
An efficient way of increasing your levels is through a transdermal magnesium spray in the form of magnesium chloride. This can be applied to the skin before, during and after exercise. Or use Epsom Salts (magnesium sulphate) in a bath and soak for 20 minutes. This is ideal following exercise to avoid muscle soreness and fatigue. It may also encourage a better nights sleep too!
For more information, or to assess your nutritional status contact Suzanne Garaty 647397501