If you exercise and sweat on a daily basis, the chances are you are deficient in the important mineral, magnesium.
So, what does magnesium do and how can you benefit from taking in adequate amounts of this important mineral?
One of the most important functions of magnesium is its role as an electrolyte, which maintains the electrical balances in the body and is lost through sweat and urination According to data, those losses could be from 10-20%.
There is significant evidence that insufficient magnesium impairs athletic performance and function and increases oxidative stress that comes from intense exercise. That said, it is not a performance-enhancing substance unless you are deficient in the mineral, and you may be. Athletes in weight-control sports like weightlifting, wrestling and gymnastics also have to make sure they get enough of the mineral as well. A deficiency state occurs in males with daily intakes of <260 mg for men and <220 mg for women.
A study of male athletes given 390 mg. daily for 25 days resulted in peak oxygen uptake and total work output during work capacity tests. Other studies show improvements in increases in endurance and decreases in oxygen consumption during sub-maximal exercise. Also, for the metcon freaks outs there, mag may actually help reduce the accumulation of lactic acid.
Again, for those of us who like high intensity work, magnesium is required for the activation of enzymes necessary for the creation of ATP which is the cornerstone process for muscular contractions.
Exercise also redistributes magnesium throughout the body for it’s metabolic functions including cardiac output, energy production and oxygen uptake. Since rest and deep sleep are conducive to the body’s restoration and growth, magnesium plays an important role in promoting a good night’s sleep.
If you don’t want to take magnesium pills here is a list of the best food sources of magnesium. Just keep in mind, however that in Western diets, magnesium is often poorly supplied.
Incidentally, there are several types of magnesium and the most bioavailable is magnesium citrate.
An interesting benefit to magnesium citrate is as a laxative. It works by attracting enough water in the intestines to induce a bowel movement and works quickly. (Trust me, I know). Ori Hofmekler recommended I take 3 magnesium citrate pills and 1 potassium pill with a glass of water first thing in the morning and don’t go too far. Good advice.
Whether you make a concerted effort to get a high amount of magnesium in your diet or you need to supplement with pills, it will pay off in your training, whatever you do. The health benefits beyond fitness are considerable. Magnesium is required for over 300 processes in the body. There is no need to worry about taking too much as excess magnesium is eliminated by the kidneys. I found out my father has a rather large kidney stone and magnesium is known to prevent them.
Future studies will point to anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties. This is a very important mineral that may not get all the recognition it should with all of us, but particularly athletes.
For your overall health and optimal athletic performance, it is imperative to target your magnesium consumption.