Magnesium – can it help performance

Before I start, this is not a scientific paper, I have done some research and seems the majority of articles written on the subject have similar conclusion. That conclusion is that for most if not all athletes, making sure you have stable Magnesium levels in your body will greatly enhance your athletic performance. I know what I want for Christmas, it’s not a new bike (although that would be nice), it’s some Magnesium supplements/sports drinks which I will be taking with me when I race.

There is quite of a lot of research that has been carried out concerning Magnesium and whether it can help athletic performance. It is known to be the 2nd most abundant mineral in the body so we obviously need it on a daily basis but what does it do or enable us to do and more importantly, if we are deficient in it, what impact will that have on energy and our performance.

“Magnesium plays a number of roles in the body, being required for more than 325 enzymatic reactions, including those involved in the synthesis of fat, protein and nucleic acids, neurological activity, muscular contraction and relaxation, cardiac activity and bone metabolism. Even more important is magnesium’s pivotal role in both anaerobic and aerobic energy production, particularly in the metabolism of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the ‘energy currency’ of the body. The synthesis of ATP requires magnesium-dependent enzymes called ‘ATPases’. These enzymes have to work extremely hard: the average human can store no more than about 3oz of ATP, yet during strenuous exercise the rate of turnover of ATP is phenomenal, with as much as 15kgs of ATP per hour being broken down and reformed (from adenosine diphosphate and phosphate)!” *1

That’s a bold statement but seems to be backed up by various academics as stated in the article extract below:

“An important consideration for athletes is the rate of magnesium loss that occurs during heavy physical activity. Magnesium as well as zinc, chromium and selenium are excreted in the sweat or as part of the process of metabolic acceleration. Also, the rate of magnesium loss is increased in conditions of high humidity and high temperature.
Dr. Sarah Mayhill states that “Heavy exercise also makes you lose magnesium in the urine and explains why long distance runners may suddenly drop dead with heart arrhythmias.”
Dr. Mark Sircus adds “There is virtually no one that cannot benefit greatly from increasing daily magnesium intake. In terms of health and longevity magnesium is essential. For the professional athlete it means the difference between winning and losing, and in some cases, living and dying.”

* info taken from:
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Level 2 Triathlon coach 3 x Ironman finisher British National Formation skydive silver medal winner (2004) Father of 2 boys
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