Magnesium is the fourth most abundant mineral found in the human body. It provides numerous health benefits and poses several important roles in our system.
It is also one of the most important minerals which comes to mind when we talk about fitness, especially for athletes. But hardly anyone knows how important is magnesium for athletes and how it can help in improving athletic performance exponentially.
Curious to know what we are talking about? Continue reading the article then as we share all the details and solve all your queries.
Functions of magnesium
Before we start talking about the importance of magnesium for athletes, let us first know about the numerous functions that magnesium performs in the human body.
- Magnesium is involved in numerous biochemical reactions taking place in the body. They act as cofactors or helper molecules in the reactions.
Some of the most common functions performed by magnesium are energy creation, protein formation, gene maintenance, muscle movements and even nervous system regulation.
- The mineral plays a very important role in the different functions of the brain and also manages mood swings, therefore studies have found that magnesium helps in ameliorating the symptoms of depression effectively too.
- Helps in combating type 2 diabetes and lowers high blood pressure.
- Provides anti-inflammatory effects and also helps in preventing migraines.
- Premenstrual syndrome is one of the most common ailments suffered by women during their childbearing years. Magnesium plays a huge role in reducing the symptoms.
How important is magnesium for athletes?
Now coming to the importance of magnesium for athletes, studies have shown that the requirement of magnesium for an active person is much more than a sedentary person.
As you can quite deduce, magnesium plays numerous roles in the human body and various studies have shown that high levels of magnesium help in boosting muscle power, especially increasing the strength of the leg muscles.
When we consume magnesium-rich foods or supplements, magnesium enters into our bloodstream and helps in lowering the lactate levels in the body. Lactate or lactic acid is a metabolite that is generally produced due to intense physical exercise. If lactate continues to build up in the muscles, then muscle performance gets limited and the person can get fatigued easily.
How to exercise with proper magnesium?
Exercising without adequate levels of magnesium in the body also leads to excess oxygen consumption and an increase in heart rate.
Magnesium plays a huge role in boosting the immune system and its function in the body is similar to that of an antioxidant and therefore helps in reducing the risk of getting injured during strenuous physical exercises.
Deficiency of magnesium in athletes can lead to depletion in energy production, getting lethargic quickly, reduction in performance, and frequent episodes of muscles twitching and cramps.
The mineral density of bones also decreases rapidly in cases of magnesium deficiency and that leads to an increased risk of osteoporosis and anemia. It also increases the risk of muscle damage during strenuous physical exercises.
How much magnesium is required for the proper functioning of the body?
According to the National Institute Of Health, a healthy adult female should consume 310-320mg of magnesium per day whereas a healthy adult male should intake 400-420mg of magnesium per day.
However, if a person is involved in a physically demanding job or exercises, then they should increase their magnesium intake accordingly. One also needs to consume more magnesium when undergoing a stressful situation.
A lot of magnesium gets lost through sweat and for all the functions in your body to operate smoothly, one should increase their magnesium intake according to their needs.
Now you may wonder how to deduce whether you are getting enough magnesium or not? To help you understand, pay attention to the following symptoms
- Dizziness and fatigue
- Abnormal heart rhythms
- Leg cramps
- Digestive problems
- Aches and soreness in muscles and joints
If you observe any of the above symptoms, then likely you are suffering from a magnesium deficiency and it is time to increase your magnesium intake through your diet.
How to boost magnesium intake through diet?
Consuming a balanced diet helps the body to receive all the essential nutrients and micronutrients for the proper functioning of the body.
Therefore, listed down below are some of the food items that are the best sources of magnesium and which should be included in your diet.
- Avocados- 1 medium avocado provides 58 mg of magnesium.
- Dark chocolate- 1 ounce of dark chocolate provides 64 mg of magnesium
- Nuts- 28 grams of cashews provide 82 mg of magnesium
Almonds and Brazil nuts are rich sources of magnesium too
- Legumes- 1 cup of cooked black bean provides 120 mg of magnesium and 1 cup of cooked white kidney beans provide 140 mg of magnesium
- Tofu- 100gram serving of tofu provides 53 mg of magnesium
Sunflower seeds- 100gram provides 395 mg of magnesium
Pumpkin seeds – 100gram provides 402 mg of magnesium
Flax seeds- 100gram provides 350 mg of magnesium
- Oats- 100g of oats provide 139 mg of magnesium
- Boiled spinach- A cup of boiled spinach (180g) provides 39% of the RDI
- Swiss chard– 175g of swiss chard provides 38% of the RDI
- Quinoa- A cup of cooked quinoa (185g) provides 35% of the RDI
- Halibut- 100grams provide 27% of the RDI
- Mackerel- 3.5 ounces of mackerel provide 19% of the RDI
- Salmon- 3.5 ounces of salmon (100g) provide 9% of the RDI
Should magnesium supplements be used to boost magnesium levels in the body?
Magnesium levels in the body can be easily maintained by consuming a balanced diet that consists of magnesium-rich foods.
However, in certain cases, the magnesium levels in the body decrease drastically and in those cases, magnesium supplements are generally suggested.
But before consuming magnesium supplements, there are certain points that one should keep in mind
- One should always be careful of the dosage of magnesium supplements. Do not consume more than 250 mg of supplemental magnesium per day.
- For people suffering from medical conditions, consult with your medical advisor before you take magnesium supplements.
- Magnesium supplements can be risky for people who consume diuretics, antioxidants or any medications for the heart.
- It has been observed that people with kidney issues are at higher risk of suffering from the adverse effects caused by the supplements.
- Magnesium acts as a natural laxative and therefore excess consumption of magnesium supplements in large doses can cause diarrhoea.
- Some other side effects caused due to magnesium supplements are gut-related ailments, nausea and vomiting.
Now there you go. Hopefully, the article was able to articulate how important is magnesium for athletes.
The importance of magnesium should not be undermined for athletes as more a person is involved in strenuous physical exercises, the more one should consume magnesium-rich foods to boost the magnesium levels and to maintain the different biochemical reactions happening in the body to continue to operate efficiently.