The Importance of Magnesium

Magnesium.  If your hard intervals or training efforts seem to be lacking you may be low!


Most coaches and fitness enthusiasts are aware of the importance of magnesium in energy production.  However, more recent research is showing that the amount of magnesium required for optimum health and performance has been underestimated.  Research has also shown that it does not take a large deficiency to have a big impact on performance.  Research has demonstrated that magnesium deficiency reduced metabolic efficiency, increased heart rate and oxygen consumption to complete a given workload.

Pure magnesium is the second most abundant mineral in cells after potassium.  Most is found in muscle tissue and bone.  Less than 1% is found in the blood.  This is typically the amount measured.  Magnesium is used in the synthesis of fat, protein, muscular contraction, cardiac activity, bone metabolism and neurological activity. 

Magnesium has an important role for human performance in ATP metabolism both in aerobic and anaerobic energy production.  ATP is called the energy currency of the body.  During strenuous exercise the rate of turnover of ATP is extremely high, and magnesium is a big part of satisfying this need.  There is also a link to magnesium in reducing oxidative stress and the production of testosterone which can help promote strength gains in athletes. 

Recommended Magnesium levels in the US are about 400mgs per day for men and about 300mgs for women.  However research in athletes has led many to believe that this is too low.   Levels in the range of 450 to 500 may produce better performance.  A rule of thumb is 3mg per pound of body weight. 

The impact of a deficiency of magnesium is so great that this should be one of the first checks on a list of dietary needs for optimum performance.  Especially if your sport is a power to weight sport, where you are trying to watch your diet and may trying to reduce your body weight. 

Some dietary sources highest in magnesium are almonds, pumpkin seeds, peanuts, walnuts, and sesame seeds.  If you are an athlete or actively training, make sure you are consuming magnesium rich foods or take a magnesium supplement.  They are cheap and safe. 


Truth in Fitness


Jacques DeVore, CSCS

Sirens and Titans Fitness, LA