Magnesium

Magnesium is involved in a high number of enzyme systems that regulate the functions of the body.  These include blood pressure regulation, muscle function, protein synthesis and many more with around 300 in total.

Magnesium is available in many types of food including whole grains, almonds, cashews,  hazelnuts, peanuts, some beans, green leafy vegetables, bananas, apples, apricots some fish, meat and poultry.

In the human body magnesium is found primarily in the skeleton.  It is also found in muscle tissue and in small amounts in the blood.  One function of the kidney is to control excess magnesium through urination.  Testing for magnesium with a blood test may not be a very accurate method due to the low percentage of total body magnesium found therein.  Opinions vary as to whether there is a strong correlation between blood serum tests results for magnesium and total body levels of it.

Adults need around 400mg daily for males and around 300mg daily for females with slightly less for those that are younger and slightly more for lactating mothers.  There are several conditions that could point towards a deficiency in magnesium.  These include leg cramps, insomnia, muscle pain, anxiety, fatigue, migraines, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes.  This does not mean that an individual that presents with any of these situations is categorically suffering from magnesium deficiency or that magnesium deficiency has definitely caused these situations.

The risk of deficiency seems to be described as low in those with a “fresh unprocessed food approach”. However, there is a heightened risk or deficiency in some individuals suffering from Celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, chronic diarrhea, or consuming any other conditions affecting absorption through the gastrointestinal tract.  Levels could also be low in individuals consuming lower than around 2000Kcals per day.  This would include many who have becoming leaner as their main goal and are consequently reducing their calorie intake.  Also at risk are those with type 2 diabetes and those with a high alcohol intake.  The use of certain medications over an extended duration can lead to magnesium deficiency.

Excess magnesium from the diet is normally averted through increased concentrations of it leaving the body through urination.  Signs and symptoms of excess magnesium from supplementation include diarrhea, nausea and abdominal cramping.

Magnesium can be taken as a dietary supplement in the form of a tablet powder or a liquid and the magnesium contained in the supplement will be in the form of a compound such as magnesium chelate, magnesium oxide, magnesium phosphate, magnesium citrate and others.  Absorption of magnesium taken is most likely to be better in liquid form than tablet form.  It is also available as a spray or gel applied to the skin and as a powder that can be added to a warm or hot bath.  Oral magnesium supplementation can result in diarrhea and this would be avoided with dermal applications.

Supplementation of magnesium amongst athletes has been shown to enhance performance if there is a deficiency.  Increasing levels of supplementation beyond recommended levels is not likely to produce further performance improvements but is also relatively low risk in that the excess will leave the body through normal channels with the possible side effect of some diarrhea.  In athletes, it makes sense to ensure magnesium levels are optimum and this can easily be achieved through supplementation.

As with all types of supplementation a conversation with a health professional before embarking on the supplementation program would be well advised if you are in doubt about its suitability.

 

John Ward

 

 

 

 

John Ward
John Ward
john@thechieflife.com

My career in the Fitness Industry which began in 1994, many parts of this have been rewarding and currently the offering of Nutrition Coaching as part of Personal Training is the most rewarding. Follow more great advice from John on Instagram.