Magnesium is an essential mineral (i.e. it MUST be provided from our diet as the body is unable to synthesise it) and is known as the “universal mineral” because it plays an important role in so many metabolic reactions (over 300) both as a mineral and a co-factor for enzymatic reactions.
The adult human body contains about 25 grams of magnesium of which:
Magnesium is known to play a key role in MANY biological processes that influence sports performance too. So, in this episode we discuss its importance in:
We then consider the effects of Magnesium status on running performance and delve into potential risk factors for suboptimal Magnesium levels including:
We then move on to focus on key nutritional interventions to support optimal Magnesium status e.g.
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Magnesium is an essential mineral involved in over 300 metabolic reactions within the body. It is also a very important mineral for a runner for many reasons including:
BUT it is a mineral that is often neglected. Some studies have found that the dietary intake of magnesium is often low in athletes and yet it is thought that the magnesium demands of an athlete could be up to 10 to 20% higher than in the general population.
Looking at Magnesium’s importance for the runner in more detail i.e.:
1) The muscle contraction/relaxation cycle – magnesium acts as a natural calcium blocker
2) Glucose metabolism – magnesium is influential in 3 key ways:
3) Energy production – ATP (the body’s energy currency) needs to be bound to Mg to be biologically active.
Compromised magnesium status could affect running performance in several ways including:
So, if you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it might be worth having your magnesium levels tested to determine, or hopefully rule out, a magnesium insufficiency or deficiency.
What are the risk factors for suboptimal magnesium levels? Well, there are many, some of which are within our control and others that are outside of our control.
Risk factors within our control include:
Risk factors outside of our control include:
Let's take a look at what you can do nutritionally to support optimal magnesium status:
1) Reduce the intake of foods and beverages that could inhibit Magnesium absorption
2) Increase the intake of foods rich in Magnesium e.g.
3) Reduce intake of (or ideally remove) caffeine, alcohol and fizzy drinks
4) Be mindful of overall fluid intake to avoid overhydration
There are some lifestyle approaches to supporting magnesium status including:
1) Just as a reminder Magnesium is an essential mineral, that is….it MUST be provided from our diet as the body is unable to synthesise it.
2) Mg is known as the “universal mineral” and is known to be involved in over 300 metabolic reactions as a mineral but also a co-factor in enzymatic reactions.
3) Mg is important for a runner because it is influential in energy production, glucose metabolism, and muscle contraction…to name the ones we have discussed today; however Mg is thought to support exercise performance in many other ways both directly and indirectly.
4) Mg insufficiency or deficiency COULD affect running performance due to:
5) There are many risk factors for compromised Mg status, some of which are within our control and others outside of our control.
6) We CAN take control of our diets to help increase Mg availability. Some changes to consider include:
7) Finally, if you think low Mg may be an issue for you then we recommend you have your levels tested and then work with a professional who will address YOUR needs. Remember Aileen and I are available to support you if required.
The suggestions we make during this episode are for guidance and
advice only, and are not a substitute for medical advice or treatment.
If you have any concerns regarding your health, please contact
your healthcare professional for advice as soon as possible.
Aileen Smith and Karen Campbell met at as nutrition students (Institute for Optimum Nutrition, London) and became lifelong friends and nutritional buddies! Both have a love of running and a passion for nutrition, delicious food and healthy living.
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