If you suffer from muscle cramps, headaches and sleepless nights, low magnesium levels may be to blame. Known as the ‘relaxation’ mineral, magnesium naturally overlaps across all aspects of your recovery and performance including your muscle health, sleep quality and energy production.
A magnesium-rich diet can help you eat your way to better health but this can be challenging in practice, with an active lifestyle increasing your demand for this essential nutrient. Whether in powder or tablet form, taking a high-quality magnesium supplement as part of your recovery plan has numerous benefits to your body.
Benefits Of Magnesium Magnesium is a cofactor or ‘helper' molecule, involved in over 300 enzymatic reactions. It interacts with calcium, vitamin D and other micronutrients to support metabolic processes, playing a crucial role in everything from healthy muscle contractions, protein synthesis for muscle growth and repair, to energy production on a cellular level.
Maintains Healthy Heart Rhythm Although calcium is a crucial mineral, an overabundance of calcium in your body’s cells can be a problem or even overstimulate the heart. Magnesium acts as a natural ‘blocker’ to calcium to regulate your heartbeat. In simple terms, calcium aids in muscle contractions and magnesium aids in muscle relaxation. Magnesium also contributes to your cardiovascular health in terms of reducing your risk of heart disease, helping lower blood pressure and prevent blood clotting.
Improves Muscle Performance & Recovery Magnesium is crucial to the healthy functioning of muscles and nerves – with a role in protein synthesis, muscle growth and regulating muscle contractions. Post-workout, magnesium naturally relieves tension to your fatigued muscles, preventing painful cramping and spasms as a vital part of your recovery plan. Healthy magnesium levels can also prevent excess build-up of lactic acid responsible for muscle tightness and pain after high-intensity activity. Research suggests it may also slow muscle degradation as you age.
Supports Bone Health Alongside calcium, magnesium is crucial to maintaining bone mass. 60% of your body’s magnesium is found in the bones of your body and is vital for bone formation, increasing bone density, helping ward off osteoporosis and reducing risk of bone injuries such as fractures. Magnesium has an integral part in the functioning of parathyroid hormone, or PTH which has a role in maintaining healthy calcium levels and regulating calcium absorption in the gut.Magnesium is also essential in activating vitamin D sourced from UV rays to ensure the calcium you ingest is more effectively absorbed to support bone health and a strong skeletal system.
Sleep & Stress Management There is a relationship between inadequate magnesium levels and poor sleep quality or insomnia. Stress can be a barrier to gaining quality sleep and it’s a vicious cycle, with troubled sleep or lack of sleep also contributing to higher stress levels. Specifically, magnesium glycinate can help ease sleeplessness, supporting healthy levels of the neurotransmitter GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) that’s responsible for reducing stress, anxiety and calming a ‘busy’ mind to transition between wakefulness and a peaceful sleep. It also supports the production of melatonin to help keep your circadian rhythm in sync with the natural day-night cycle, helping you feel refreshed and rejuvenated upon waking.
Energy Production Magnesium is essential to all life and every cell in your body. As a fundamental ‘ingredient’ of energy metabolism, it has a critical role in converting the nutrients you ingest into a usable source of energy. It supports the mitochondria or ‘powerhouses’ of your cells to generate energy for biological processes. Adenosine triphosphate (ATP) – a molecule produced by mitochondria that’s responsible for storing and transferring energy within your cells and the ‘fuel’ for all cellular reactions – is only activated when bound to a magnesium ion.
Whether you’re wriggling your toes or competing in a triathlon, you can attribute that muscle movement in part to the role of magnesium in your energy production. This energy is also required in the repair of injuries and to speed up recovery.
Understanding Your Magnesium Needs Generally a higher intake of magnesium is required to sustain an active lifestyle. Like other electrolytes, magnesium is lost in sweat. This means that runners and athletes are at a higher risk of having low magnesium levels, which can have detrimental consequences to your performance and overall health. Although your magnesium levels may be low following strenuous activity and it’s important to replenish these levels post-workout, chronic magnesium deficiency is rare in otherwise healthy individuals.
Signs of low magnesium include:
Headaches or migraines Fatigue and weakness Muscle twitches, spasms or tightness Nausea and vomiting Poor appetite
If you believe you’re at risk of magnesium deficiency, it’s important you seek advice from your health care professional to personalise your nutrition plan to fulfil your specific requirements during your current stage of life.