Magnesium for Muscles: What You Need to Know to Support Your Workout
5 min read
You’re likely familiar with the role of protein, carbohydrates, and some micronutrients in supporting your workout. But did you know there is another important mineral involved?
Enter magnesium. This essential nutrient is involved in more than 300 bodily processes, from energy production to helping our muscles function (1-5).
The kicker? According to the Australian Health Survey, just 1 in 3 of us are getting enough of it (6).
Read on to discover the role of magnesium for muscles, why it’s important for your workout and how you can ensure you’re getting enough of it.
Healthy muscle function is one of the most important pillars of a satisfying workout. After all, our muscles are at the base of every movement we make, from a brisk walk to lifting weights.
These movements require our muscles to both contract and subsequently relax.
While calcium is involved in a muscle’s contraction, magnesium is important for its relaxation. Balancing these two essential minerals keeps our muscles contracting and relaxing optimally (4, 7, 8, 9).
Not only is magnesium involved in maintaining muscle function, but studies also suggest a link between magnesium levels and muscle performance (10).
In a 2011 study, an increase in strength performance was observed in male athletes with adequate magnesium levels (11). Cross-sectional surveys also indicate a positive association between adequate magnesium intake and improved grip strength, lower-leg power, and jumping performance (10).
Whether you’ve started exercising after an extended hiatus, hit the gym harder than usual, or gone the extra mile during a particularly gruelling training session, you’ve likely experienced sore muscles after a workout.
Characterised by tension and cramps, sore muscles are no one’s friend.
Muscle tension occurs when muscles remain semi-contracted for longer than usual (12), while muscle cramps are characterised by sudden and involuntary contractions of an individual muscle or a muscle group (13).
As magnesium helps our muscles relax, it is thought to help counter the contraction at the core of painful tension and cramps.
In addition to supporting muscle function and recovery, magnesium also helps maintain energy levels throughout a sweat session.
When we exercise, magnesium is sent to the parts of our bodies where energy production takes place (10).
This is because magnesium plays a role in generating an energy storage molecule called adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which is commonly known as the ‘energy currency of the cell’ and provides energy for almost all metabolic processes (2, 3, 4, 5, 14).
We know that magnesium is an important nutrient for supporting your exercise regime, but a catch 22 arises in that the relationship between fitness and the essential mineral goes both ways.
Although our bodies need more magnesium during exercise (an extra 10-20% according to some studies (15)), a high-intensity or cardio-based workout can deplete its available resources as we tend to lose magnesium through our sweat.
Not to mention, the majority of us don’t meet our magnesium requirements to start with (6).
According to the Nutrient Reference Values for Australia and New Zealand, men aged 19-30 should consume 400mg of magnesium each day, and 420mg of magnesium from the age of 31 onwards (16).
The RDI of magnesium for women aged 19-30 is 310mg, and 320mg from the age of 31 onwards (16). As a general rule, high-fibre foods are good sources of magnesium. This includes leafy green vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds and whole grains. In particular, pumpkin and chia seeds, almonds, and spinach are all magnesium-rich foods (17).
The information provided in reference to this ingredient is general in nature and provided as information only. Any product-specific therapeutic claims for this ingredient are linked to specific dosage requirements based on evidence of traditional or scientific nature.
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