MINERALS FOR ACTIVE PEOPLE: MAGNESIUM
September 24th, 2013 by André Gagnon, ND
Magnesium participates in over 300 metabolic processes in the body and is an enzyme activator. It works in association with sodium, potassium, and calcium with which it needs to maintain a certain level of balance within the organism. About half of the body’s magnesium is found in bones and teeth whilst the rest is situated in the muscles, the liver and other soft tissues.
An essential mineral for solid bones and teeth, magnesium also helps with the proper function of muscles by supporting neurotransmission. Furthermore, it helps in the formation of tissues.
Deficiency amongst athletes
Did you know that 72 % of men and 77 % of women do not get enough magnesium? It would seem that modern diets which are more and more sophisticated, the soils which are become depleted of minerals and growing levels of stress are exposing us to magnesium deficiency. Certain factors also increase these odds such as alcohol abuse, aging, Crohn’s disease, celiac disease, other digestive issues and certain medications such as antibiotics all increase magnesium deficiency.
Magnesium deficiency often occurs in athletes due to increased loss through perspiration, particularly in the summer, as well as different metabolic processes that increase urine and fecal losses. The increased losses combined with the already low magnesium levels in our diet mean that we need to be even more vigilant in order to avoid crashing magnesium levels in our body.
Consequences of magnesium deficiency
The consequences of magnesium deficiency are numerous and often result in:
- a significant decrease in athletic performances;
- lower recovery times;
- difficulty contracting muscles (tetany, cramps, muscle pain);
- reduced muscle relaxation after contraction;
- lowered tolerance to heat;
- exacerbated oxidative stress;
- premature accumulation of acid in muscles.
Stress increases magnesium loss through the kidneys which in turn leads to hypomagnesemia (an abnormally low level of magnesium in the blood) which then creates stress. And that is the beginning of a vicious cycle! Therein lays the importance of compensating with an important supply of magnesium (1). Intense effort, especially during high heat, can lead to eliminating up to 30 mg per litre of perspiration (2).
Estimates show that a deficiency can occur with magnesium intake under 220 mg/day for female athletes and 260 mg/day for men. Athletes with the highest risks are those that practice gymnastics, boxing, judo and weight lifting. Some restrict calorie intake and consequently magnesium intake (1).
Researchers at the Children’s Hospital and Research Center Oakland confirm that the aging of cells in the human body is accelerated by the lack, even by the slightest amount, of magnesium.
Magnesium has positive actions on:
- The maintenance of energy production;
- Athletic performances;
- Reduced muscular cramping;
- The protection of muscles (reduction of creatine kinase);
- Physical performances, increased by elevated VO2 max (maximum capacity to consume oxygen);
- The control of cortisone levels and protection against the harmful effects of oxidative stress;
- Neuromuscular hyper excitability;
- Pregnancy (as of the 2nd month, magnesium levels crash);
- The cardiovascular system;
- Nutrient metabolism (calcium, sodium, phosphorus, potassium, vitamins K – C and B, proteins, carbohydrates, enzymes);
How to choose a good supplement
To absorb minerals, the body must first chelate and then ionise them. A liquid supplement solution is already ionised and bioavailable. It will therefore be assimilated more efficiently compared to other forms of magnesium (crystals, capsules or tablets). Furthermore, liquid magnesium has an ideal isotonic concentration.
Magnesium chloride is the most common form of magnesium. Generally extracted from sea water, it is perfectly soluble and offers a superior performance. It can however be replaced by magnesium sulphate for those who strongly dislike the taste of chlorides.
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