Posted by THE FUEL Nutrition Editorial Staff on December 16, 2015
Are you ALWAYS sore after hard workouts? Do you feel completely bowled over by stress? What about sleep? If you can’t remember the last time you had a restful night in dreamland, it’s a good chance you’re not getting enough magnesium.
How can this be?
After all, we know that magnesium plays a pivotal role in energy production and recovery, making it a must for athletes! The reality is that even small shortfalls in magnesium can seriously impair performance and athletes just aren’t getting enough.
For example, a 2012 study of elite runners found that it was magnesium, not sodium or potassium, that was the electrolyte most depleted during the race. The low magnesium stores resulted in significant inflammation for the runners.
Don’t let this happen to you! Here are five critical reasons to make sure your magnesium levels are up to par:
Benefit #1: Greater Strength
If you’re not optimizing your magnesium stores, you’re missing out on peak performance and may be leaving muscle gains on the table. Without magnesium, the enzymes that enable muscle protein synthesis are impaired, compromising recovery, hypertrophy, and strength.
Benefit #2: Better Hormone Balance
Healthy testosterone and balanced cortisol levels can make or break an athlete. Magnesium helps maintain this equilibrium by helping to free up testosterone so that it can work its magic in the body. It also allows for the metabolism of cortisol after hardcore workouts by reducing nervous system activation.
Benefit #3: Better Insulin Sensitivity & Body Composition
Magnesium is known as the mineral of insulin sensitivity. It helps your body metabolize carbs, while influencing the activity of hormones that control blood glucose levels. Robust magnesium creates a metabolic environment that will help you get superior muscle development and a leaner body composition in less time.
Benefit #4: Faster Recovery
Getting enough magnesium can accelerate recovery processes and aid sleep. Magnesium fights inflammation, raises antioxidant levels, and helps replenish energy stores in the muscle. It also calms the central nervous system, lowering heart rate and enabling restful sleep.
Benefit #5: Greater Power & Vertical Jump
Magnesium is necessary for the explosive movements, making it a key nutrient for athletes who want to enhance athletic performance. For example, volleyball players who took 350 mg of magnesium for 4 weeks increased vertical jump height by an average of 3 cm—a huge amount for trained jumpers!
How To Take Magnesium
Scientists recommend a minimum of 3 mg per pound of body weight of magnesium a day, so if you weigh 165 pounds, that’s 495 mg. Some of this can be consumed from food—whole oats, raw nuts, beans, and bananas are all high in magnesium—however, absorption can be reduced by diet high in fibrous foods.
When supplementing, opt for high-quality magnesium chelates, such as magnesium glycinate. A chelate refers to the compound that the elemental magnesium is bound to. Magnesium chelates are better retained by the body than inexpensive magnesium salts such as magnesium oxide, which just tend to pass right through.
If you’re someone who likes to test and monitor your blood levels, be aware that assessment of magnesium status is surprisingly hard. Only 1 percent of magnesium is in blood, 0.03 percent in plasma, 50 percent in bone, 25 percent in soft tissues, and 15 percent in muscle. Therefore, regular magnesium blood tests are horribly inaccurate.
A red blood cell magnesium test is a simple, affordable alternative that your doctor can perform. For adults, the range should be 4 to 6.8 (mg/dL).
All prices are in USD