Having sore muscles and cramps after working out, lacking sleep, and over-fatigue — of-of these are linked by magnesium deficiency. Especially in athletes, lacking in magnesium can even lead to a serious impairment in performance. A study of elite runners in 2012 even found that it was magnesium, and not sodium or potassium, that was most depleted during the race.
While magnesium does play many important roles in the body, unfortunately, the prevention/reduction of exercise-induced muscle cramps is not one of these. It is easy to be confused considering the heavy marketing for magnesium supplements and the prevention of cramps, but to date, the scientific research suggests that there is no strong link between exercise-induced muscle cramps and magnesium supplementation.
While oral magnesium does not appear to have any beneficial effects in athletes with adequate magnesium, supplementation may improve performance in individuals with a diagnosed deficiency. Those undertaking a high volume chronic training load (e.g. long distance runners) or those with a restricted energy intake may be at risk of magnesium deficiency, although this is not common and you should always get this checked out with your GP before supplementation. It is worthwhile noting that the intestinal absorption of magnesium varies depending on how much magnesium the body needs. If there is too much magnesium, the body will only absorb as much as it needs.
So how much Magnesium do I need?
The recommendations suggest that adults consume a range between 350 and 400 mg/day as the upper limit. Most individuals who are eating a healthy well-balanced diet will be acquiring the required amount of magnesium through whole foods. Good food sources of magnesium include vegetables, legumes, fish, nuts and whole grains. For example, 30g of brazil nuts provides ~100mg, and ½ cup of cooked quinoa provides ~50mg of magnesium.
The bottom line, if you suffer from regular muscle cramps during exercise or you are concerned about your magnesium intake, an Accredited Sports Dietitian (AccSD) can analyse your current diet and help you meet your requirements for training and overall health and wellbeing. .Seek our assistance and get in touch with Optimise Nutrition.