Magnesium: An Athlete’s Essential Mineral

Magnesium: An Athlete’s Essential Mineral

By Rehan Jalali, Certified Sports Nutritionist (C.S.N.) & Fitness Expert

Rehan Jalali is President of The Supplement Research Foundation ( He is a sports nutritionist and published scientific writer, columnist, and author. His clients include Oscar winning actors, Emmy award winning TV stars, and Grammy winning musicians, as well as Professional Athletes and Olympians. He is author of The Six-Pack Diet Plan and the Sports Supplement Buyers Guide available at Rehan is a member of the American Medical Writers Association. He can be reached at

April 21, 2010

What’s So Special About Magnesium?

Magnesium in the human body ranks fourth in overall abundance, but intracellularly (within cells) it is second only to potassium. This mineral is involved in over 300 enzymatic reactions in the body1 including glycolysis, the krebs cycle, creatine phosphate formation, nucleic acid synthesis, amino acid activation, cardiac and smooth muscle contractability, cyclic AMP formation, and most importantly for athletes, protein synthesis. This mineral is critical to endurance and strength athletes.

Magnesium and Energy

ATP (adenosine triphosphate or energy) is always present as a magnesium: ATP complex. Magnesium basically provides stability to ATP. Magnesium binds to phosphate groups in ATP, thus making a complex that aids in the transfer of ATP phosphate. Since working muscles generally contain more ADP (adenosine diphosphate), allowing ATP to release a phosphate group is important to exercising individuals.

What Role Does Magnesium Play In Protein Synthesis?

Magnesium plays an important role in protein biosynthesis, which is certainly applicable to athletes. It is necessary for the activation of amino acids and the attachment of mRNA to the ribosome. This process helps “make” proteins. In other words, protein synthesis depends on optimal magnesium concentrations.

It is hypothesized that low magnesium levels may negatively affect protein metabolism, and may result in diminished strength gains in a structured workout regimen. It is important to note that increasing dietary protein intake may increase magnesium requirements because high protein intake may decrease magnesium retention.1

Does Magnesium Help With Muscle Cramps and Exercise Recovery?

Magnesium has also been implicated in the prevention of muscle cramps and muscle spasms. In a clinical study, 500 mg of magnesium relieved muscle spasms (within a few days) in an adult female tennis player who was complaining about having muscle spasms associated with prolonged outdoor exercise.2 This may be due to the fact that mineral losses through sweat and urine are increased during prolonged exercise. In specific, sweat losses of magnesium may increase during exercise.3

Increased losses of magnesium from the body have been seen during and after exercise. A shift in magnesium from the plasma into the erythrocytes was found.4 Basically, the more anaerobic the exercise (i.e. glycolytic), the greater the movement of magnesium from the plasma into the erythrocytes. This is why athletes may have a greater magnesium requirement and why supplementation can enhance recovery. According to a published study entitled “Exercise, magnesium, and immune function”, the researchers concluded that magnesium deficiency can not only impair the ability to do physical work but also impair optimal immune function.5

What Does The Research Say About Magnesium and Athletes?

One 1992 study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition6 studied the effects of a dietary magnesium supplement on strength development during a double-blind, 7 week strength training program in 26 untrained subjects. The results of the study showed that the oral magnesium supplementation group produced significantly greater results in strength than the control group.

Endurance athletes may become magnesium deficient because of increased magnesium losses in sweat.7,8 Increased energy expenditure may also cause an increase in magnesium requirements. Magnesium supplementation has also been shown to improve cellular metabolism in competitive athletes.9

Another clinical trial which studied the effects of magnesium supplementation (360 mg/day) for 4 weeks in male competitive rowers showed a decrease in serum lactate concentration and oxygen consumption when compared to rowers receiving a placebo.9 In other words, the results of this study suggested that magnesium supplementation may have a beneficial effect on energy metabolism and work efficiency.

Other research studies show that serum magnesium levels may be reduced in response to strength training.10 Also, it has been noted in research studies that maximal contraction of the quadriceps is positively correlated to serum magnesium status.11 And finally, research indicates that magnesium supplementation prevents a reduction in thyroid hormone activity in athletes. In other words, it supports a healthy metabolism!

Can Magnesium Be Toxic?

Magnesium toxicity is highly unlikely because normal kidneys can remove magnesium extremely rapidly. Toxicity is more likely to occur in individuals who have renal problems. One possible effect of excess magnesium intake is diarrhea. How much magnesium should athletes take?

This varies in individuals but a daily dose of 400-1000 mg daily in hard training athletes may be beneficial. Dietary fiber impairs magnesium absorption to a small extent12 so magnesium should not be consumed with any fiber source.

What’s My Conclusion?

I think the message is clear: Magnesium is an essential nutrient for athletes!

Jigsaw Magnesium w/SRT is an easy and effective way to get the magnesium your body needs!

Cited Sources:

  1. P. Wester. “Magnesium,” Am J Clin Nutr 45 suppl (1987): 1305-1312.
  2. L. Liu, et al., “Hypomagnasemia in a tennis player,” Phys. Sportsmed 11 (1983): 79-80.
  3. C. Consolazio, et al., “Excretion of sodium, potassium, magnesium, and iron in human sweat and the relation of each to balance and requirements,” J. Nutr 79 (1963): 407-415.
  4. P. Deuster, et al., “Magnesium homeostasis during high-intensity anaerobic exercise in men,” J. Appl. Physiol. 62 (1987): 545-550.
  5. Lsaires MJ, Monteiro C., “Exercise, magnesium, and immune function,: Magnes Res 21 (2008) : 92-96.
  6. L. Brilla and T. Haley, “Effect of magnesium Supplementation on on strength training in humans,” J. Amer. Coll. Nutr. 11.3 (1992): 326-329.
  7. D. Costill, et al., “Muscle water and electrolytes following various levels of dehydration in man,” J. Appl. Physiol. 40 (1976): 6-11.
  8. R. McDonald and C. Keen, “Iron, zinc, and magnesium nutrition and athletic performance,” Sports Med. 5 (1988): 171-184.
  9. S. Golf, et al., Is magnesium a limiting factor in competitive exercise? A summary of relevant scientific data. In Magnesium (London: John Libbey & Company, 1993), pp. 209-220.
  10. F. Beuker, et al., “The saturation of magnesium plasma levels during strength training,” Magnesium Res. 2 (1989): 294.
  11. G. Stendig-Lindberg, et al., “Predictors of maximum voluntary contraction force of quadriceps femoris muscle in man. Ridge regression analysis,” Magnesium 2 (1983): 93-104.
  12. National Research Council. Recommended dietary allowances, 10th ed. Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 1989:187-194.

Why Jigsaw Magnesium w/SRT?

  • Recommended by Dr. Russell Blaylock, MD in his newsletter, the Blaylock Wellness Report.
  • Patented Sustained Release Technology (w/SRT) allows you to easily take a therapeutic dose of magnesium.

Jigsaw Magnesium w/SRT is an easy and effective way to get the magnesium your body needs!

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