Natasha Breen, from Sydney Natural Health & Lifestyle Clinic and also one of our runners talks about the benefits of magnesium.
Have you ever been asked the question, “If you could take 3 things on a desert island, what would they be?”. For me, along with my skinny girl cosmo and bar of Cadbury’s id also have to say some magnesium, it’s that important!!
Without the presence of magnesium in the body, energy could not be produced or used in the cells, muscles could not contract and relax, and key hormones could not be synthesized to help control vital bodily functions.
Magnesium helps maintain normal muscle and nerve function, keeps heart rhythm steady, supports a healthy immune system, and keeps bones strong. Magnesium also helps regulate blood sugar levels, promotes normal blood pressure.
Magnesium is an extremely important mineral in the body, involved in over 350 enzyme reactions in the body. In healthy adults only around 30 % of magnesium is actually absorbed, you can imagine therefore that those of us who aren’t as healthy or are immunocompromised, this percentage is much less. Even with the wide availability of magnesium in foods, at least 60% and possibly as much as 80% of adults do not consume the Recommended Dietary Intake (RDI) for magnesium (310-420mg/day).
So what specifically does Mg actually do? If I were to thoroughly answer this question, I would be here for hours so I will focus on Magnesium’s major functions and its role in running and exercise.
• It is required for protein synthesis – making it important for strength and power when running, also aids in recovery
• Conversion of glycogen to glucose (the bodies’ main fuel during exercise). With suboptimal levels, the body switches to anaerobic metabolism, resulting in a build-up of lactic acid which is often associated with muscle soreness, spasms and fatigue
• Magnesium deficiency is common, with runners and people who exercise regularly at a greater risk of because of its role in energy production and metabolism. It is also lost through sweat during exercise, and in urine. Several studies, including one published in the American Society for Clinical Nutrition, have revealed many athletes, particularly women, are failing to consume sufficient magnesium in their diet.
• When you are deficient in magnesium, it can exacerbate feelings of exhaustion and heighten the intensity of pain and inflammation. If you have ever suffered from symptoms of pain, muscular cramps, headaches, fatigue or even fibromyalgia, you may have increased requirements for therapeutic doses of a highly bioavailable magnesium.
What Foods Contain Magnesium?
• Top food sources of magnesium include leafy green vegetables, nuts and seeds (especially pumpkin), unrefined whole grains, peas, beans and lentils. Some fish, such as halibut and mackerel, are also good sources. Drinking water can be an important source of magnesiumalso. It is depleted by stress, sugar, alcohol and soft drinks. Sadly, a lot of the food we are eating is genetically modified and the herbicides used on the crops bind to Mg and reduce its availability to the body.
What is the best supplemental form of Magnesium?
It’s easy to become overwhelmed by the amount of supplements out there and knowing what is right for you can be very confusing. What you want is a formation that will give you the best absorption and therefore the highest quantity of available magnesium for your body to utilise. The more your body absorbs, the greater the symptom improvement. Forms of magnesium that dissolve well in liquid are more completely absorbed in the gut. Studies have shown that magnesium in the aspartate, citrate, lactate and chloride forms are more bioavailable than magnesium oxide and sulphate1.
Colloidal Magnesium is also a very effective supplemental form due to its high absorption rate.Colloids are the smallest biological form of any matter. They are small enough to pass through membranes and thus they skip past the digestive process and are easily absorbed by the body.
Other fun uses for Magnesium
I’m sure most people have heard of Epsom salts which are a form of Magnesium. Aside from using in a bath for sore muscles there are some other uses listed below,
Smooth Skin: Mix 1/2 cup epsom salt with 1/4 cup olive oil and scrub skin in the shower for healthy and smooth skin.
Hair Mask: Combine equal parts of conditioner and epsom salt and leave on hair for 20 minutes. Rinse well and let air dry for thicker hair.
It is always encouraged to obtain our nutrients from a healthy and varied diet, however it is sometimes necessary to take supplemental forms where indicated!
Hope you enjoyed the read!
1 Dietary carbohydrate, muscle glycogen content, and endurance performance in well-trained women J. Appl. Physiol. 2000 88: 2151-2158