The Importance of Magnesium for Endurance Athletes

Magnesium plays a pivotal role in athletic performance, yet its importance is often vastly overlooked and underappreciated. It is essential for over 300 biological reactions in the body such as neurological and cardiac activity, the synthesis of protein, fat and nucleic acids, the contraction and relaxation of muscles and bone metabolism.

Most importantly for athletes, magnesium is a key component for aerobic and anaerobic energy production and the body’s “energy currency”, called ATP (adenosine triphosphate). The metabolism of ATP cannot occur without ATPases, which depend on magnesium. An intense workout demands an enormous amount of ATP breakdown and reformation to function properly so that energy can be released for muscle contractions.

Are you getting enough magnesium?

Studies have shown that with today’s dietary habits, less than half (various research indicates a 50-80%) of the western world’s population receives a sufficient amount of magnesium, and even small shortages of the mineral can lead to a significantly limited athletic performance.

Signs that you are not getting enough magnesium include:

  • ThLimited energy production (accompanied by tiredness or fatigue)
  • Anxiety or depression
  • Disturbed sleep cycles or insomnia
  • Irregular heart rate
  • Muscle twitches or cramps
  • Abdominal pain
  • Dizziness

How magnesium can enhance your performance

Athletes who wish to boost their endurance and overall performance can reap phenomenal benefits by increasing the amount of magnesium they receive daily.

Higher energy production, more efficient bone development, the reduction of the accumulation of lactic acid during intense sessions, faster muscle recovery and the avoidance of oxidative damage are all physical benefits that a magnesium-rich diet can ensure.

Magnesium can also offer a host of mental and emotional benefits, such as resistance to mental stress and a better, clearer mental outlook, reduced tiredness and better sleep. 

How much magnesium do endurance athletes need?

The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for magnesium is 400-420mg of magnesium for men and 310-320mg of magnesium for womenAthletes’ needs in magnesium are increased by 150mg for each additional 1000 kcal spent on top of 2200 kcal for men, and by 150mg for each additional 1000 kcal spent on top of 1800 kcal for women. 

What foods can you get magnesium from?

As magnesium isn’t produced by the human body, it’s vital to follow a diet that includes a rich and colorful variety of magnesium-rich foods. Nuts and seeds, dark leafy greens, legumes, certain fruits and fish and even some complex carbohydrates contain magnesium. 

Specifically, aim to eat foods from each of the following categories every day, for example: 

Fruit: papaya, banana, figs.

Nuts & seeds: Almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, walnuts, peanuts, pumpkin, sunflower, sesame and flax seeds.

Legumes: Garbanzo, pinto beans, lentils, black beans.

Carbs: Brown rice, whole grain bread, potato, sweet potato.

Sweets: Dark chocolate (70% cocoa and up).

Fish: Fatty fish like mackerel, salmon, tuna, , sardines.

Vegetables: Dark leafy vegetables like spinach, kale, Swiss chard and broccoli.

Soy products: Tofu, soya beans and tempeh.

Note: Certain conditions, chronic illnesses or lifestyle habits can also significantly impact your absorption of magnesium. Diabetes, alcohol overconsumption, ongoing gastrointestinal problems can affect your magnesium absorption and storing significantly. 

Not sure how your organism fares in terms of magnesium? Try one of our comprehensive at-home biomarker test kits offered by Biostarks. Start with the Sports Performance Test , which gives you insights on how to improve your performance through the optimization of your biomarker levels, or try our Nutrition Test  and learn more about how your nutritional habits have affected your overall wellbeing, and how to modify them to ensure an optimal micronutrient intake.

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