Yes, it’s magnesium time Strong Body warriors. Supplements and protein shakes are always a craze in the fitness world. Today we introduce to you magnesium and all its fantastic benefits! BCAA’s, Creatine and Zinc are among the top ‘supplements’ that many athletes take but what about magnesium? If you have heard of magnesium before, you should still be asking yourself just how important the supplement is and whether you are getting enough in your daily diet? New research suggests that even small shortfalls in magnesium intake can inhibit athletic performance.
Before we look at the benefits of this beautiful element lets educate ourselves on what it is.
Pure magnesium is a silvery-white metal, which burns with a dazzling white flame – something you’ve probably seen demonstrated by your science teacher at school! It is the second most abundant mineral in cells after potassium, but the 56 grams or so found in the typical human body is present not as metal but as magnesium ions (positively-charged magnesium atoms found either in solution or complexed with other tissues, such as bone). Roughly one-quarter of this magnesium is found in muscle tissue and three-fifths in the bone.
Unrefined foods, such as wholemeal bread, green leafy vegetables, nuts and seeds, peas, beans and lentils are considered to have higher levels of magnesium. Refined foods, fruit, meat, and fish are said to have lower levels of the mineral. You may have thought the opposite, but milk and dairy products are not necessarily a good source of magnesium! When you want to obtain as much magnesium as possible from your vegetables, it is a good idea to prepare a raw dish. Magnesium is a reasonably soluble mineral when you boil your vegetables you can lose up to half the amount of magnesium in them.
What role does magnesium play in your body?
Magnesium is probably a little more important than you first pre-empted. It is required for more than 300 enzymatic reactions and contributes to the synthesis of fat, protein and nucleic acids, neurological activity, muscular contraction and relaxation, and other cardiac activity. That’s a pretty neat mineral with a lot of jobs if you ask me!
One critical enzyme reaction for athletes, which magnesium plays a pivotal role in is the metabolism of adenosine triphosphate (ATP). ATP is a complex chemical which provides energy to your cells during a workout. It is responsible for both anaerobic and aerobic energy production. These magnesium-dependent enzymes have to work extremely hard when you’re working out. The average human can store no more than about 850g of ATP. During heavy or high-intensity exercise, the rate of turnover of ATP is phenomenal.
In healthy adults, a magnesium deficiency results in altered cardiovascular function, including impaired carbohydrate metabolism, with insulin resistance, decreased insulin secretion and high blood pressure. Diseases that have been associated with magnesium imbalances and deficiencies include coronary heart disease, neuromuscular disorders, kidney diseases, asthma, migraines, premenstrual syndrome, pre-eclampsia and eclampsia (both potentially severe complications of pregnancy), menopausal bone problems and even obesity!
You will not find it hard to believe that it’s all too easy to go short of magnesium, notably if your diet is missing out on foods like whole grains, green leafy vegetables, pulses (peas/beans/lentils), nuts and seeds. Just to make our chances even higher of being magnesium deficient, excessive sugar intake (check out tackle those cravings), alcohol consumption and diets high in fats, protein and calcium have all been shown to impair magnesium absorption and/or increase excretion. Even when the quality of food is good and the diet carefully balanced, diets containing fewer than 2,000 calories per day often struggle to meet magnesium needs, placing those weight loss or maintenance regimes at an added risk.
Here are the Risk Factors & Signs Of Low Magnesium Intake:
Eating Habits Associated With Low Magnesium Intake:
- You tend to eat white flour products instead of wholemeal
- Your intake of green leafy vegetables is low
- Nuts and seeds or beans and lentils are not a priority in your diet
- Sugar or sugary products are often included in your diet
- You drink alcohol regularly
- You follow a calorie-restricted or high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet
Possible Symptoms Of Sub-Optimal Magnesium Intake:
- Muscle cramps, twitches or tremors
- Regular or excessive fatigue
- Feelings of irritability and/or lethargy
- Frequent mood swings, including depression
- Pre-menstrual bloating
- Restless legs at night
Are you having any of these symptoms?
I know I used to suffer from feeling constantly tired as well as having muscle twitches when trying to sleep (restless legs). If you are having some of these symptoms or eating excessive amounts of the above food choices, then you should consider taking a magnesium supplement at night, or even a simple change like eating more whole grain products and boosting your intake of vegetables, nuts and seeds can make a significant impact. It is NOT advisable to have more than 400g a day.
You can get any good magnesium supplement from a vitamin store. I use a supplement which is a combination of zinc, magnesium and vitamin b6, such a great night time ritual!
I’d love to hear about your experiences with magnesium. What symptoms were you having? How did you change your diet? What supplements do you take? I would be happy to answer any questions you may have… email me or message me on Instagram!
The Disco Ninja
The Disco Ninja is one half of the dynamic duo behind Strong Body’s Become a Ninja program. She is one of Australia’s most popular Ninja Warrior Australia competitors and world famous for being the shortest competitor in the world to scale the formidable Warped Wall – which is three times taller than her!