Higher, faster and further with magnesium

SEP 2, 2020 · BY MICHAEL WÄGER BSC. MSC.

Magnesium is crucial for sportsmen and -women. It plays a role in muscle and bone function, drives protein synthesis and is also involved in your immunity as well as your respiratory health. Magnesium is also essential for the recovery from oxidative stress. As a result, the magnesium status is likely to be of importance in the athletic population for whom bone health and optimal muscular, immune and respiratory function is a requirement for consistent training and athletic performance. But how well are people from the US really supplied with magnesium? And which new insights does science have regarding the role of magnesium in athletes?**

Recommended intake and magnesium status in the US

Dietary surveys of people in the United States consistently show that many people consume less than the recommended amounts of magnesium which is up to 420 mg per day. An analysis of data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey found that 75 % of Americans of all ages ingest less magnesium than their estimated average requirement.**

recommended-intake-of-magnesium

Based on recent literature, 45 % of Americans are magnesium deficient. This affects groups of all ages and training condition; e.g. a subclinical magnesium deficiency is estimated in 40 % of young adults. Additionally, many athletes do not meet their recommended magnesium intakes, and Olympic athletes have significantly lower magnesium levels compared with non-athletes.**

Reasons for magnesium deficiencies in athletes

Athletes have an increased risk for a magnesium deficiency. Perhaps one or the other reader may think ‘Yeah, that’s because athletes have increased magnesium requirements during exercise!’. That’s partly true, however, life’s not that simple.**

Potential reasons for a deficiency in athletes include not only a diminished magnesium intake via processed and boiled foods but also involves a reduced absorption in vitamin D deficient individuals. Considering the low vitamin D levels of the general population (more than 40 % are vitamin D deficient), it does not surprise that this undersupply of vitamin D also affects magnesium levels, since their metabolism is closely intertwined.**

How well your body absorbs magnesium is also dependent on your fiber intake, since fiber can form complexes with minerals and therefore a high fiber intake has a negative impact on your magnesium levels. Finally, long runs and prolonged exercise in general result in an increased urinary loss of magnesium as well as a general transient reduction, possibly because of a loss in muscle membrane integrity. As you can see, your magnesium levels can be affected by a wide variety of parameters, but what’s the most important questions: do you know your magnesium status? And do you ensure a sufficient supply?

Higher, faster and further with magnesium**

The Olympic slogan “higher, faster, further” should be complemented by the maxim “healthier”, since only healthy sportsmen and -women are able to train and perform consistently – and magnesium is able to support all four attributes. Looking at the performance-enhancing effects of magnesium, a correction of a magnesium deficiency and therefore a good magnesium supply is associated with performance improvements in jump height, endurance sports and cardiorespiratory function as well as bench press levels. Based on one of the most recent systematic reviews, magnesium also helps to maintain muscle mass, power and supports systemic immune health.**

It is therefore essential to ensure a sufficient magnesium supply, either through an increased intake of food which is high in magnesium or selected supplements. When choosing a magnesium supplement, ensure to pick a magnesium compound with a high bioavailability, like magnesium citrate or bisglycinate. Additionally, do not take a too high dose all at once to prevent potential gastrointestinal side effects. It’s better do take lower dosages, like 120-150 mg of magnesium a few times throughout the day.**

References:

  • JL Workinger. et al. 2018. Challenges in the Diagnosis of Magnesium Status. Nutrients. 10(9), 1202.
  • Heffernan, S.M.; Horner, K.; De Vito, G.; Conway, G.E. The Role of Mineral and Trace Element Supplementation in Exercise and Athletic Performance: A Systematic Review. Nutrients 2019, 11, 696.
  • Wang R, Chen C, Liu W, et al. The effect of magnesium supplementation on muscle fitness: a meta-analysis and systematic review. Magnes Res. 2017;30(4):120-132. doi:10.1684/mrh.2018.0430

**These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

ABOUT MICHAEL WÄGER BSC. MSC.

Michael Wäger BSc. MSc.