Protein powders, proteins, and performance aids are the most popular products in the supplement industry. Too little attention is given to recovery and health based supplements. Vitamin and mineral supplements are becoming increasingly important as the quality of our food diminishes concomitant to ever increasing life stressors. One such mineral is magnesium.
What is Magnesium
Magnesium is one of the four micronutrients (along with sodium, potassium, and calcium) essential to all life. Magnesium is necessary for bone formation as well as calcium metabolism, and converting Vitamin D into an active form in the body.
Magnesium can be found in abundance in a variety of natural foods such as pumpkin seeds, spinach, Brazil nuts, almonds, rice and sesame seeds. While magnesium deficiency is primarily the result of poor diet and food choices, your magnesium levels could still be low even if you follow a healthy diet AND you lead an active lifestyle
How do you know if you are magnesium deficient? Different forms of stress, including exercise, increase magnesium consumption in the body. Adequate magnesium absorption may also be adversely affected by consuming disproportionate amounts of protein and fat relative to carbohydrates (another good reason to calculate your macros), and excessive alcohol consumption. Symptoms of magnesium deficiency include:
- Significant decrease in energy levels
- Reduced immunity
- Poor memory
- Training plateaus
- Retrograde performance.
Magnesium and Training
Individuals who train frequently at high intensity need more nutrients because of the increased demand on the body. Magnesium supplementation has been shown to be beneficial for athletes. Studies have found that athletes that supplemented with magnesium were able to perform at higher (relative) intensities for a longer period of time and increased their VO2max (maximum oxygen consumption) during exercise. This effect may have to do with the role magnesium plays in muscle contractions.
Magnesium supplementation has also been shown to combat fatigue. That may be the result of reportedly better sleep with magnesium supplementation, or it could be due to the role magnesium plays in energy production. Regardless, it improves restful sleep and reduces fatigue, and everyone could do with some of that!
Other Benefits of Magnesium Supplementation
- It contributes to a healthy metabolism
- Magnesium contributes to maintenance of healthy teeth and gums (it is necessary for calcium metabolism.). It also contributes to the maintenance of healthy bones. When we exercise we place a large amount of stress on the skeletal system and magnesium has been shown to assist in the repair and maintenance process.
- It contributes to electrolyte balance, which in turn plays a critical role in hydration.
- Magnesium contributes to the normal functioning of the nervous system and has been shown to have a calming effect on the nervous system.
- It aids protein synthesis.
Even if your magnesium levels are normal and your diet provides optimal levels of the mineral, a magnesium supplement will be beneficial to your health and performance. When looking for a magnesium supplement, get one that has no additives.