Magnesium is essential to good health, a lot of it is stored in bones, equally as much is contained in cells within organs, and a small percentage circulates in the blood. Even though the blood contains a small fraction of total magnesium, the body strives to maintain adequate blood levels. Magnesium is needed for a plethora of biochemical reactions in the body including maintaining bones, nerve function, and immune system function. Magnesium taken alone or in combination with zinc before bed has been shown to significantly improve slow wave sleep, a necessary environment for GH release. Unrefined grains, legumes, green leafy vegetables, and nuts and seeds provide us with most of our daily magnesium.
Studies illustrate that magnesium can become depleted during strenuous exercise. This can be due to direct loss of minerals from sweating and urination and/or due to increased need for magnesium to support increased energy production during workouts and elevated protein synthesis post-workout. Regardless, adequate daily magnesium intake is required to sustain high caliber exercise performance. Along similar lines, there is a correlation between strenuous exercise, magnesium deficiency, and decreased immunity. Decreased immunity associated with magnesium deficiency increases inflammation in the body, which may hinder recovery time from workout to workout. Under such conditions, magnesium supplementation has been shown to decrease catabolic cortisol levels and boost immunity, especially during periods of heavy physical stress. Finally, in other studies, low magnesium levels have been associated with decreases in the anabolic hormones, testosterone and IGF-1.
ACTION POINT: To reach your potential, it’s critical that you get at least the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for minerals like magnesium (18-30 years old: about 400 mg males and 310 mg for females, needs increase slightly with age). As such, we suggest all athletes should take a multi-vitamin formulated for athletes (as directed). Of note, since magnesium bioavailability can decrease when it is taken with certain foods (e.g., sugar and alcohol) or other supplements, we suggest taking up to 450 mg of magnesium prior to bed. *Note, too much magnesium can give you stomach cramps and diarrhea. So, when starting out, use a low dose and work up based on tolerance.
REFERENCE: Zhang Y, Xun P, Wang R, Mao L, He K. Can Magnesium Enhance Exercise Performance? Nutrients. 2017 Aug 28;9(9).