Magnesium plays an important role in the body, it is required for more than 300 enzymatic reactions in the human body.
It is involved in membrane stability, including muscle contraction, cardiac activity, metabolism, and nerve conduction.
In this blog post, we will deep dive into the science behind the role of “magnesium for bodybuilding” and the importance of why taking magnesium can optimize your overall health and well-being.
Biochemistry of magnesium
Magnesium is the fourth most abundant element in the human body (Ca2+ > K+ > Na+ > Mg2+) and the second most abundant positive ion within the body’s cells after potassium.
It is estimated that around 760mg of magnesium is present from birth, and this increases by 5g at around 4-5 months (Romani, 2011; De Baaij, Hoenderop, and Bindels, 2015).
Also, magnesium is classified as an alkaline earth metal which belongs to the second group of the periodic table of elements (Fiorentini et al., 2021). Mg2+ is generally absorbed through the small intestine, but sometimes can also be taken up through the large intestine.
Benefits of Magnesium for Bodybuilding
Here are some key points on the importance of why many bodybuilders would benefit from taking magnesium:
- Improved overall performance: As mentioned before, magnesium is an essential micronutrient that plays a key role in the contraction and relaxation of muscles. Nevertheless, “magnesium for bodybuilding” helps to improve the overall nerve function which is highly important for bodybuilders for the coordination and muscular control of muscles.
- Improved quality of sleep: Magnesium plays a key role in rest and recovery, it can help the muscles and nervous system to relax allowing for deeper sleep and feeling refreshed and energized. Many studies have looked at the importance of muscle repair and growth and have found that when individuals get a deep and restorative sleep, this is when the majority of the muscle repair and growth occurs (Stich et al., 2022).
- Reduction in muscle fatigue and soreness: Magnesium’s role within the human body is to allow better circulation, contraction, and relaxation of muscle cells. When magnesium supplements are taken as part of a routine dietary supplement, it can help reduce muscle soreness and fatigue post-workouts. This is because it can help to promote blood flow to the muscles and allows the removal of lactic acid, a by-product of anaerobic metabolism that can cause muscle cramping and pain.
How much do you need Magnesium for bodybuilding?
As mentioned previously, magnesium is an important micronutrient for the human body. Studies have looked to establish whether those individuals who are more physically active in comparison to those who are not physically active, what the recommended daily allowance (RDA) is for magnesium.
It may be possible that people with higher levels of physical activity may require greater magnesium intake, this is because these individuals have a higher increase in urinary and sweat loss, and through the loss of sweat and urine, they may lose essential electrolytes in the form of magnesium and may require an increase in magnesium by 10-20% (Nielsen and Lukaski, 2006).
Some studies have suggested that the RDA for magnesium for adults is around 400-420mg for men and around 300-320mg for women.
However, when considering Magnesium for bodybuilding it is estimated that individuals such as bodybuilders can safely consume up to 500mg of magnesium per day.
As mentioned earlier in this blog post, bodybuilders who carry a lot of muscle mass and are training at higher intensities require a slightly higher dosage of magnesium, this is due to them losing a lot of sweat through exercise, and through losing sweat, this can mean that bodybuilders may end up experiencing muscle pain, as low levels of this mineral can cause increased muscle contractions and spasms (Swaminathan, 2003).
Consuming Magnesium from different foods
Magnesium can also be obtained not just from tablet form, but also from a balanced diet that includes a variety of whole foods.
Some different sources of magnesium include:
- Leafy green vegetables (e.g., sorrel, spinach, kale)
- Nuts and seeds (e.g., almonds, cashews, peanuts, pumpkin seeds, flaxseed)
- Legumes (e.g., soybeans, peas, black beans, lentils)
- Whole grains (e.g., wheat and rice bran, wheat germ, brown rice, quinoa, oats)
- Fish (e.g., cod, salmon, mackerel, tuna)
Increasing magnesium for muscle recovery
Magnesium can act as an anti-inflammatory agent, allowing reduction in swelling, and joint pain, and can aid in delayed onset of muscle soreness (DOMS).
Magnesium is essential for muscle recovery because it allows your muscles to go from a contracted state to a more relaxed state a lot quicker in comparison to if you were not consuming magnesium.
The consequences of this if you were magnesium deficient would result in your muscles experiencing muscle tension and/or DOMS for a lot longer. This is also another reason why magnesium deficiency can lead to muscle cramps.
What are the signs and symptoms of being magnesium deficient?
As mentioned before in this blog post, magnesium can be found in a variety of different foods, some research has suggested that magnesium levels may be lower in soils than in previous years.
And food processing can reduce magnesium content from plant foods containing the mineral, meaning that we are not consuming as much magnesium through foods in order to meet our RDA (Cazzola et al., 2020).
Some signs of magnesium deficiency may include:
- Reduced appetite
- Numbness or tingling of the skin
- Muscle cramps
- Irregular or abnormal heart rate
What are the side effects of consuming magnesium supplements?
As with any supplements, it is always advised to seek guidance from a healthcare professional especially if you have any underlying medical conditions prior to taking any supplements.
If you consume too much Magnesium as a bodybuilder, this can also lead to toxicity.
This is quite rare to find especially if you are consuming magnesium from food sources, and this is because the kidneys play a key role in removing excess magnesium through the urine. People with kidney disease may be at higher risk of toxicity because their kidneys are not functioning properly.
Signs of toxicity may include:
- Muscle weakness
- Low blood pressure
- Abnormal heartbeat
Overall, it is fair to say that consuming magnesium in doses of up to 420mg daily is safe for bodybuilders. Magnesium plays a particularly important role in overall muscle function. It helps to maintain the balance of electrolytes, which are vital for muscle contractions, nerve transmission, and fluid balance.
There is growing evidence to suggest that many athletes may be magnesium deficient are not meeting their dietary magnesium intake and are losing it through increased sweat and urination when training at higher intensities (Nielsen and Lukaski, 2006).
Therefore, bodybuilders looking to enhance their overall performance and achieve their fitness goals should be looking to consume magnesium to maximize their training.
- Cazzola, R., Della Porta, M., Manoni, M., Iotti, S., Pinotti, L. and Maier, J.A., 2020. Going to the roots of reduced magnesium dietary intake: A tradeoff between climate changes and sources. Heliyon, 6(11).
- De Baaij, J.H., Hoenderop, J.G. and Bindels, R.J., 2015. Magnesium in man: implications for health and disease. Physiological reviews.
- Fiorentini, D., Cappadone, C., Farruggia, G. and Prata, C., 2021. Magnesium: biochemistry, nutrition, detection, and social impact of diseases linked to its deficiency. Nutrients, 13(4), p.1136.
- Nielsen, F.H. and Lukaski, H.C., 2006. Update on the relationship between magnesium and exercise. Magnesium research, 19(3), pp.180-189.
- Office of Dietary Supplements – Magnesium. (2021). Retrieved from https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Magnesium-HealthProfessional/
- Razzaque, M.S., 2018. Magnesium: are we consuming enough?. Nutrients, 10(12), p.1863.
- Romani, A.M., 2011. Cellular magnesium homeostasis. Archives of biochemistry and biophysics, 512(1), pp.1-23.
- Stich, F.M., Huwiler, S., D’Hulst, G. and Lustenberger, C., 2022. The potential role of sleep in promoting a healthy body composition: underlying mechanisms determining muscle, fat, and bone mass and their association with sleep. Neuroendocrinology, 112(7), pp.673-701.
- Swaminathan, R., 2003. Magnesium metabolism and its disorders. The Clinical Biochemist Reviews, 24(2), p.47.
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