As an athlete, you may be told by your coach or treating therapist to take magnesium, particularly if you have a history of cramps. Have you ever wondered why this supplement is prescribed and why your body may be deficient in it?
Magnesium is a vital mineral required by just about every organ in your body and used for over 300 physiological processes. The most important of these functions includes activation of vitamin B and D, relaxing smooth muscles, clotting of blood, regulation of calcium levels and the secretion of insulin. Studies have shown that 80-90% of the developed world is deficient in magnesium. The recommended daily intake of magnesium is 300-400mg.
The recommended daily intake for an athlete or active person may be higher due to the increased demands placed on smooth muscles, such as the heart, and on blood vessels, as well as for the activation of vitamin B (energy production) and D (bone health).
There is a variety of different reasons as to why we may be depleted in magnesium, including:.
- Low levels of magnesium in soils due to farming practices.
- Consumption of caffeine
- Consumption of sugar (Large amounts of Magnesium are required for insulin to metabolise sugar)
- Consumption of processed food
- Consumption of alcohol
- Consumption of foods high in phytic acid (grains, legumes, seed oils)
Signs you may be magnesium deficient:
- muscle spasms and cramps,
- seizures, anxiety,
- irregular heart rhythms
Latent signs include:
- migraine headaches
- chronic fatigue
Naturally high in magnesium foods include nuts, dark green vegetables, fish and meat, pumpkin and sunflower seeds, bran, tofu, potatoes, spinach and baked beans.
The Role of Supplementation
Although the best source of any nutrient is from real food products, if you are deficient, supplementation is the fastest and often best way to return to normal levels. Supplementation is either in tablet or powder format. The powder is often best, because when mixed with water it can easily pass through the stomach lining meaning a faster and great absorption over tablet options. The best time to take magnesium as a supplement is after midday as it has a calming effect on the body.
Magnesium plays a vital role in so many of our body’s processes. Due to a variety of modern-day factors large portions of the population are deficient in magnesium. This can have an adverse impact on an individual’s health, particularly in athletes and physically busy people because of activity and stress levels on their body.