Last Updated on March 10, 2013 by Jimson Lee
Question: I play club soccer in the summer to tune up for college, and find myself dragging a bit during games, especially with long ball opportunities. My coach thought I was low in iron but found that my magnesium was low. My summer lifting is going well so I don’t understand the connection, but I know magnesium is important for muscles after doing some reading. If my power in the weight room is great but my games seem off does that make any sense?
Answer: One has to be careful at reading symptoms or isolating a biomarker to just one part of performance (such as the weight room) with sport. Magnesium is a mineral with many duties and often symptoms can range with athletes differently. From your description it seems that longer sprints seem to not be a sharp and that can be because muscle performance is highly velocity specific, meaning your lifts are fine but sprinting is not. Clearly you must be a striker and speed, like many sports, is vital to your game.
During the summer nutritional practices can change, and it was mentioned last week that liquid diets and fruit driven diets change the magnesium levels of the body over time. While your levels may go back to normal as the fall season begins, staying optimized all year long is key for both performance and injury reduction. If you magnesium level drops, some symptoms may pose you more at risk to pulling a muscle, especially in the heat when dehydration increases.
A simple solution is to change breakfast and focusing on whole grains if you can, as bran and nuts are the most potent sources of magnesium. Pumpkin seeds and almonds are great sources on top of real oatmeal, since most sources of cereal are only 15% of the needed magnesium. The less processed the cereal the higher in magnesium you will find, and a large serving can help with glycogen needs as well. If the above suggestions still don’t help restore your levels, supplementation may be needed. Supplementation should always be the second option because real food sources provide phytonutrients, fiber, and other health benefits.
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“Supplementation should always be the second option because real food sources provide phytonutrients, fiber, and other health benefits. ”
I agree. There are many online databases to check magnesium content of everyday foods. A convenient database to use is http://dietgrail.com/magnesium/ .