While magnesium has been popularized and marketed primarily for its benefits in providing a restful night’s sleep, this powerhouse of an electrolyte plays a role in more than 300 chemical processes in our body!
Have you ever noticed after a super intense workout session that your sweat looks cloudy and white? This is actually a sweaty cocktail of salts, potassium, and magnesium, and the more intense the session, the more of this important electrolyte is lost.
With all of the information we are continually inundated with in regards to what our body needs, what micronutrients to add to our regime and how much to take, we tend to overlook the basics and leave out some of the common key players, like Magnesium.
Bonus Fun Fact: Magnesium is named after the Greek City Magnesia, as it was discovered right outside the city.
Magnesium as the Mediator
One of the benefits of magnesium is the role it plays in creating an equilibrium between two very important hormones in our body that affect our ability to lose body fat and build muscle: cortisol (the dreaded belly fat hormone) and testosterone. Proper intake levels of magnesium ensure that enough testosterone is circulating in our body to create an anabolic environment, favorable for helping to increase hypertrophy and build beautiful, lean muscles. Magnesium also helps to metabolize cortisol, which can be a damaging hormone to the body if levels are too high, which is usually the body’s natural defense mechanism after an intense workout. Magnesium also helps to regulate insulin levels and in turn allows the body to efficiently digest and metabolize carbohydrates…YES PLEASE!
Magnesium helps with repair and recovery, but studies also show that athletes who maintain consistent levels of this important electrolyte increase their power output, necessary for explosive movements in sports and plyometric training. One particular study completed with a group of volleyball players who took 350mg of magnesium for 4 weeks experienced improvements in their vertical jump by 3 cm, which is a large increase for a trained athlete. Magnesium also helps to regulate our nervous system, enhancing our neuromuscular connection (think balance, coordination, reflex time).
Magnesium Rich Foods
Foods rich in this nutrient include spinach and other dark greens like broccoli, nuts and seeds, particularly pumpkin seeds and almonds, black beans, brown rice and whole grain bread, yogurt, avocados, and bananas. These are all fantastic, clean foods that are probably already a part of your daily nutritional regime, but if you are a serious athlete, working out intensely and sweating often, you probably need to consider adding a magnesium supplement.
Taking 3mg of magnesium per pound of bodyweight is a general guideline, and you may want to consider taking in the evening, as it does help with calming the nervous system, fighting inflammation and promoting a good night’s sleep.
Attention: You should always check with your doctor before beginning any new nutritional or supplemental regime.
Yours in health and fitness,