Magnesium: Do you eat enough?

Vitamins and minerals are imperative to numerous metabolic processes in the body and are necessary in supporting growth and development. Moreover, vitamins and minerals play a major role in fostering the biochemical reactions that take place during exercise and physical activity. This being so, significant attention has been given to the relationship between micronutrient requirements of the athlete and sports performance1, 2, 3. Of the micronutrients assessed, magnesium has received substantial consideration1, 2.

Magnesium is a crucial trace mineral, facilitating well over 300 enzymatic actions in the body4, of particular note, energy production in the mitochondria of our cells. It is well established that athletes experience increased magnesium losses through sweat and urine, and thus, have a 10 to 20 percent increased dietary requirement5. Given that magnesium depletion is strongly associated with impaired exercise capacity it is necessary to encourage athletes to increase their consumption of magnesium6. The recommended daily intake for magnesium4 is as follows:

  • Adolescent Male (9-13 years) (240 mg/d)
  • Adolescent Female (9-13 years) (240 mg/d)
  • Adolescent Male (14-18 years) (420 mg/d)
  • Adolescent Female (14-18 years) (360 mg/d)

The average magnesium intake among Australian athletes stands at 350 to 400 mg/d6. This figure falls outside the recommended intake range designed for the average adolescent male (14-18 years). Hence, it is of little surprise to discover that adolescent male (14-18 years) athletes consume less than the recommended daily intake of magnesium (504 mg/d). In light of the foregoing 10 to 20 percent increase recommended, athletes consuming inadequate amounts of magnesium increase their susceptibility to enhanced neuromuscular excitability, including symptoms such as headaches, nervousness and cramps of both smooth and skeletal muscle. However, it should be acknowledged that there is little evidence to support the use of magnesium supplementation in resolving exercise induced cramps. Nonetheless, several studies indicate that magnesium supplementation may improve exercise economy and facilitate efficient lactate clearance6.

Yet, despite a rationale for supplementation, it is imperative that athletes become conscious of their micronutrient intake through quality nutrition. The following dietary sources contain adequate amounts of magnesium:

Dietary   Source

Magnesium   (mg)

Serving/(g)

Sunflower seeds

52

28 (palm)

Wild rice

52

1 cup

Wheat germ

275

1 cup

Avocado

58

1 medium

Mackerel

85

285

Almonds

78

28 (palm)

Spinach

157

1 cup

Cashews

83

28 (palm)

Buckwheat

86

1 cup

Oats

23

100

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