Magnesium is a key mineral in human metabolism, and found in small to medium amounts in many vegetables (especially green leafy ones), nuts and seeds, and legumes. There are over 300 important bodily functions that are dependent on magnesium, but the most important for performance is energy production. Currently, 57% of the US population is not getting the US RDA of magnesium. While that number is already alarmingly high, keep in mind that the RDA is an outdated and generally poor reference range established in the mid 1900’s. These recommendations are enough to maintain a slight margin of safety, barely above sickness and disease in an average unhealthy American. The percentage of magnesium deficient Americans would be much higher than 57% among athletes and individuals seeking peak performance with much higher ATP needs than the average sedentary person seeking to avoid disease. Magnesium deficiency has proved capable of impairing exercise capacity and reducing physical performance. It is also associated with an increased inflammatory state, muscle cell alterations attributable to increased oxidative stress, and impaired intracellular calcium homeostasis. Magnesium plays both a direct and indirect role in the body’s physiological response to exercise conditions. Exercise increases production of both sweat and urine, and thus loss of electrolytes including magnesium, but the body’s magnesium stores become redistributed to meet the increased muscle metabolism needs. The nutrient allows for the direct regulation of muscle contraction/ relaxation by regulating calcium flux and energy-producing molecules (ATP). Indirectly, it supports multiple enzymes in the glycolytic pathway and oxidative metabolism throughout the body. Because of increased energy needs during exercise and sports, low magnesium levels limit performance.Both avenues of increasing ATP production are entirely dependent on magnesium. Magnesium is required to make new mitochondria and to repair existing mitochondria. Low levels of damaged mitochondria means low levels of ATP, leading to poor performance and recovery. A new study reports that 500 mg of magnesium can boost 10K run time.
Researchers set out to determine if magnesium supplementation affected sports performance including 1RM and 10 kilometre running time trial following Magnesium (Mg2+) supplementation over a five week intervention period in which recreationally active athletes when compared to a 5 week placebo intervention. Subjects participated in a 14 week protocol which employed a randomized blind cross over controlled design. At the end of the study, significant differences were observed in the running time trial, blood pressure readings pre and post 10 kilometre running trial (systolic and diastolic) and in heart rate (HR) recorded at 10 minute intervals during the running trial following Mg2+ supplementation. Following the Mg2+ intervention there was an average decrease in 10K completion time of exactly 1 minute (1.77%). A significant decrease in HR by 2.58 BPM (2.58%). Diastolic blood pressure was significantly reduced both pre and post completion of the 10 kilometre run by 10.23 mmHg (13.85%) and 5.38 mmHg (7.38%) respectively. Whilst a significant reduction in systolic blood pressure was only seen following the 10 kilometre run 8.23 mmHg (6.17%). As Mg2+ is a co-factor in over 325 enzymatic reactions, it’s importance as a mineral is clear and warrants research to improve scientific knowledge into its role within health and sports performance, as Mg2+ deficiency can also be detrimental to health. Conclusion: The results of the current study show that 500mg/day of Mg2+ supplementation will significantly decrease time taken to complete a 10 kilometre run, reduce systolic and diastolic blood pressure and significantly reduce HR.
Pitkin, Luke William. “The effect of magnesium supplementation on high and low dietary magnesium intake on resting, during and recovering from exercise on blood pressure, performance and serum levels of magnesium (Mg2+).” (2014).