Magnesium is a mineral that is appearing more and more in health and fitness articles, yet how many of us are actually aware how vital this powerful mineral really is and what its many health benefits are?
1. Why is magnesium important?
A growing number of doctors and professional sports coaches believe that magnesium is the single most important mineral for sports nutrition. It plays a fundamental role in optimal muscle contraction, skeletal strength, and helps to sustain the high oxygen consumption necessary for athletic performance. Adequate magnesium levels will help your body fight against fatigue, heat exhaustion and enables blood sugar control and metabolism.
2. Magnesium deficiency
Research finds even marginal magnesium deficiency significantly reduces exercise performance. Heavy exercisers, like marathon runners, can produce large amounts of lactic acid, resulting in painful muscles and cramps.
Magnesium is a fundamental part of the bio-chemical process of adenosine triphosphate. All cells require energy in order to work. There are two ways that they can get their energy. Normally energy is supplied to cells by mitochondria which supply energy in the form of ATP (adenosine triphosphate). The process requires oxygen, is extremely efficient and the way in which the vast majority of energy is produced for the vast majority of time.
The second way is through glycolysis. This is very much a primitive way of supplementing energy and does not require oxygen, it just needs sugar. It’s extremely inefficient and the results of glycolysis is the production of lactic acid. It is this build-up of lactic acid that causes the pain, heaviness, and the sensation that your muscles will not go any faster.
3. Critical to maintain health and performance
Many of us are unaware of its critical importance in maintaining health and performance. Essentially, sufficient magnesium encourages a ‘fast-tracked’ but natural muscle recovery, ensuring you are better able to cope with the next exercise session, and development is consistent.
Even a small shortfall in magnesium intake can seriously impair athletic performance. We often forget how important recovery is, enhancing performance is important, but without quick and full recovery, training programmes can often be delayed.
Magnesium has been shown to help with sleep, elevate testosterone, build muscle, improve insulin sensitivity and increase strength. A lack of improved strength from one workout to the next also suggests poor recovery, which may be an indication of a lack of magnesium in the body.
4. Food first… but can you really rely on diet?
You may think that increasing portions of magnesium rich foods in your diet, such as wholegrains, nuts and seeds will increase your levels; however, it is difficult to guarantee a regular and robust intake. There’s lots of evidence to suggest that this still isn’t enough for those taking part in regular sports, where magnesium will be lost much faster than in the average individual. In addition, a government funded report has shown that levels of magnesium have declined dramatically with our diet. In fact changes in farming and food processing has led to a 21% decline in magnesium in our 72 main foods since the 1940’s.
5. Transdermal magnesium therapy
Magnesium is a mineral that is difficult to supplement through traditional oral means. As it is a natural relaxant, too much in one go can have a laxative effect.
One of the most exciting developments in muscle recovery techniques is saturating the skin with magnesium. The magnesium used in transdermal magnesium therapy is in the form of magnesium chloride which is exceptionally well absorbed through the skin, and importantly, is the most soluble form of all the magnesium compounds – making it ideal to be used as a spray.
Magnesium can be applied either as a direct body spray (try BetterYou MagnesiumOil) rubbed directly into the muscle areas or as a magnesium-rich body or foot bath (try BetterYou Magniesum Flakes Foot and Body Soak).
6. Tried and tested
A trial by Cardiff University showed how well magnesium is absorbed through the skin, feeding every cell. Watkins & Josling tested whether transdermal application of magnesium chloride could alter magnesium levels and whole body calcium/magnesium ratios. After 12 weeks’ subjects saw a rise in cellular magnesium levels which represented an estimated five times quicker result than comparable oral supplementation.
7. A word from the wise
Eighteen year-old Dani Rowlinson (pictured at the top of the page) from Telford is a 3000m track athlete and cross country runner and uses BetterYou MagnesiumOil Sensitive Spray as part of her training routine.
“My muscle soreness after training has significantly decreased by simply using BetterYou MagnesiumOil Sensitive Spray. Usually my muscles are sore for 48 hours after an intense training session but I have found that by using this spray has cut this time in half which is fantastic.
“My routine is to spray each quad muscle area twice and massage in, I then spray two sprays on each calf muscle and massage in. I then spray my right knee which I have had problems with before due to a stress fracture and have really found the spray to help soothe any post training aches in the joint. I do this twice a day when I get up and before I go to bed after having a shower.
“I would definitely recommend this product to others, in particular athletes who have a heavy training schedule, as the reduced recovery time it results in is crucial to helping improve performance and reducing the risk of injuries.”