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Magnesium is a fundamental micronutrient, involved in over 300 metabolic processes within the body, and is essential for basic bodily functions. The issue is that most of us don’t get enough magnesium in our daily diets.
A magnesium deficiency is often overlooked as being ill, as the symptoms are not extraordinary. These include constipation, insomnia, headaches, and a low bone-mineral density. While these can be annoying, they can be dangerous as well, as a low bone-mineral density can increase your chance of brittle bone disease. Magnesium is also responsible for reducing or preventing, muscle cramps and spasms.
Let’s be serious, everybody, the Queen included, needs to drop a deuce. This is an essential aspect of any training and diet programme. How, you ask? Imagine a car, just as it needs to suck air, it needs to expel the excess engine gasses. The same concept can be applied here. Superior digestion involves ingestion, digestion, expulsion, and problems on the last point can throw off your entire digestive state. Inefficient digestion equals nutrient waste, meaning you are literally sending money down the toilet.
A deficiency of magnesium can be the cause behind your ‘train being late to leave the station’, and supplementing with magnesium will assist with keeping your digestive tract optimised and regular.
Did you know that majority of our recovery occurs while we are asleep? The reason for this is because while we are awake, the body must allocate resources to keep yourself moving during the day. However, while you are sleeping, you are not active, and the body can assign tonnes more nutrients to repair damaged tissue.
Magnesium is a critical component to regulating sleeping cycles and ensuring you get deep REM sleep. The reason for this is that magnesium binds to the GABA neurotransmitter, which is an inhibitory (blocks the effects) neurotransmitter contributing to motor control, vision, and various other cortical functions. GABA, Serotonin, and Dopamine work together to control sleep, moods, and anxiety, which is why you often feel cranky if you do not get a good night’s sleep.
This is also why magnesium is such a critical ingredient because it assists in the regulation of moods such as aggression, anxiety, and stress, which impact your sleep cycles.
Electrolytes are, essentially, what keeps you hydrated. You lose electrolytes when you exercise through your sweat. Electrolytes comprise sodium, chloride, potassium, calcium, phosphate, bicarbonate, and, you guessed it, magnesium. Note: Please do not confuse sodium (Na+) and chloride (Cl-) to be sodium chloride (NaCl). They are two separate compounds in this case, and sodium chloride can increase the effects of dehydration, rather than reduce them. While your body will make slight use of sodium chloride during the rehydration process, the main component is sodium, as the salts (chloride) balance its pH levels.
An electrolyte is essential because they break down into ions with the capacity to conduct electricity. As we all know, electricity is required for basic human functions to take place, so without this conductivity, basic functions would not happen.
Calcium and magnesium are directly responsible for controlling muscle activity (hence the requirement for electrical conductivity). They are polar opposites in their roles, as magnesium is necessary for relaxation of muscles (thanks to its effect on the GABA neurotransmitter) and calcium is responsible for contraction. When you have too much magnesium, the muscle will not contract properly, and when there is an abundance of calcium, the muscle will spasm/cramp.
Potassium is also an essential component in muscle contraction and cannot enter the cell without the presence of magnesium. Therefore, lowered magnesium levels can increase the risk of a potassium deficiency, which will further increase the risk of muscle cramps and spasms. This is alongside the unpleasant effects of dehydration, which includes fatigue, headaches, dizziness, and, of course, muscle cramps and spasms.
We are all lead to believe that calcium is the most important mineral for building bones, and while that is true as calcium is what composes bones, we aren’t told of the necessity of magnesium. The body cannot absorb calcium without the presence of magnesium.
Another crucial mineral in the absorption of calcium is vitamin D. Without both vitamin D and magnesium, calcium would essentially be rendered ineffective within the body.
Magnesium has been shown to be effective at 310 – 420 milligrammes a day for adult men and women, and up to 500 milligrammes for elderly patients. Remember, magnesium absorption differs greatly between people so you will need to assess what your specific requirements are. If you are deficient in magnesium, you will need to increase your magnesium intake even further. I would suggest starting with a 200-milligramme dose and taking it from there.
While there aren’t any dangerous side effects to ingesting too much magnesium, you might experience gastrointestinal problems, stomach cramps, and diarrhoea, but you need simply lower your dosage if you experience these.
Magnesium doesn’t only need to be ingested through supplementation or diet. While these are the most convenient and effective methods, you can also add Epsom salts to your bath, which contains magnesium sulfate, and give yourself a good 20-minute soak. The magnesium will ease muscle cramps as well as draw excess water from the epidermis.
Remember, magnesium will have a calming effect on the body, with higher doses possibly leading to drowsiness and feeling sluggish. Therefore, the best time to take magnesium would be at night before you go to sleep, or during a period when you know, you will be resting. Taking it in the morning, or at any time of the day, should be fine, so long as it is a mild dose.
Magnesium supplements are a convenient, cost-effective, and safe method of ensuring you get optimal amounts of magnesium in your day-to-day life. They also assist with enhancing your sleeping patterns, improving muscle recovery, and keep your daily train on schedule.