Should Runners Take Magnesium

Should Runners Take Magnesium? A Complete Guide

While we recognize the significance of sodium for runners, it’s crucial to shed light on another essential mineral—magnesium. This article will delve into all the essential information about magnesium specifically tailored for runners.

Magnesium often receives less attention in comparison to sodium and potassium, yet its functional significance, particularly for runners and athletes, is substantial.

Numerous micronutrients, including magnesium and Vitamin C, assume pivotal roles in facilitating optimal muscle function and supporting recovery.


What is Magnesium?

Magnesium often takes a back seat in discussions compared to sodium and potassium, yet its significance is paramount, particularly for runners and athletes.

Micronutrients such as magnesium and Vitamin C play crucial roles in optimizing muscle function and facilitating recovery.

Ranked as the fourth most abundant mineral in the body, magnesium serves as a cofactor in more than 300 chemical reactions. Its presence in various foods underscores its pivotal role in sustaining bodily functions.

In essence, magnesium is indispensable for the optimal operation of the body.

Consequently, magnesium holds great importance for runners, ensuring peak performance and the proper functioning of all bodily systems. Inadequate magnesium levels can impact performance across several crucial systems:

– Protein synthesis (essential for muscle strength, power, and recovery)
– Muscle and nerve function
– Vasomotor tone
– Immune system support
– Bone integrity
– Facilitation of calcium absorption, thereby aiding vitamin D absorption
– Blood glucose control (critical for marathon runners to avoid hitting the wall)
– Energy production (ATP for sustaining physical activity)
– Transportation of calcium and potassium ions across cell membranes, facilitating nerve impulse conduction and muscle contraction


Forms of Magnesium

Various forms of magnesium cater to different conditions. Simplifying the options available in stores or online for magnesium supplements for runners, some common forms are highlighted:

Magnesium Citrate: Widely available and possibly one of the most bioavailable forms. It may also serve as a laxative, impacting electrolyte replenishment. Its potential calming effect might make it suitable for consumption before bedtime.

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Magnesium Glycinate: This form, combined with glycine, an amino acid, is easily absorbed and possesses calming properties. It is typically used for addressing sleep disturbances, depression, insomnia, and anxiety.

Magnesium Oxide: Often used for constipation or heartburn, this form, commonly available in powder or capsule form, is poorly absorbed and unsuitable for treating magnesium deficiencies. Runners are advised against using this form for supplementation.

Magnesium Chloride: Derived from a magnesium salt that includes chlorine, this form is highly absorbable in the digestive tract. It is commonly employed to treat low magnesium levels and gastrointestinal complaints, such as constipation and heartburn. Some runners may even apply it topically for muscle soreness relief, although it doesn’t increase magnesium levels in this manner.


How to Obtain Magnesium

Magnesium can be acquired either through dietary sources or by taking supplements.

While magnesium is naturally present in a variety of foods and widely distributed, some runners may find that magnesium supplements suit their needs better based on factors such as food accessibility, dietary preferences, allergies, or budget constraints.

Sources of magnesium include leafy greens, nuts, seeds, legumes, whole grains, peanut butter, and other foods. Additionally, magnesium is commonly added to breakfast cereals and fortified foods.

It’s worth noting that only around 30-40% of the magnesium we consume through our diet is actually absorbed by the body. This underscores the importance of incorporating magnesium-rich snacks into the diets of athletes.

For additional lunch ideas tailored for runners, consider exploring some of the suggestions provided.

Furthermore, it is interesting to observe that a significant portion of the body’s magnesium (50-60%) is concentrated in the bones.


Magnesium-Rich Foods

It is essential to integrate a variety of magnesium-rich foods into your diet, particularly when your nutritional requirements are elevated, such as during half and full marathon training.

Some of these foods also provide a good source of iron, which is equally crucial for runners.

Roasted pumpkin seeds (1 ounce) – 157 mg
Chia seeds (1 ounce) – 111 mg (Chia seeds, known for their potency, are further explored in our article on chia seeds for runners).
Almonds (1 ounce) – 80 mg
Spinach (1/2 cup) – 78 mg
Cashews (1 ounce) – 74 mg
Peanuts (1/4 cup) – 63 mg
Soymilk (1 cup) – 61 mg
Black beans, cooked (1/2 cup) – 60 mg
Peanut butter (2 tablespoons) – 49 mg
Baked potato (with skin, 3.5 ounces) – 43 mg
Yogurt (8 ounces) – 42 mg

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While many magnesium-rich food sources are plant-based, the same cannot be said for collagen. If you’re interested in incorporating collagen into your diet, explore our post on collagen for runners.


Magnesium Dosage for Athletes

The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for magnesium in adults falls between 300-420 mg/day. In the 19-30 age group, recommendations are 310 mg for females and 400 mg for males.

For individuals in the 31-50 age group, slightly higher needs are indicated, with women requiring 320 mg/day and men requiring 420 mg/day.


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Should endurance athletes take magnesium?
Yes, endurance athletes should consider taking magnesium. Magnesium is essential for muscle function, energy production, and electrolyte balance, all of which are critical for endurance activities. The high physical demands of endurance training may lead to increased magnesium loss through sweat, making supplementation important to maintain optimal performance and prevent deficiencies.

What are the symptoms of magnesium deficiency in runners?
Symptoms of magnesium deficiency in runners can include muscle cramps, weakness, fatigue, and an increased susceptibility to injuries. Magnesium is integral to muscle contraction and relaxation, and its deficiency can adversely affect these processes. Cardiovascular issues, such as irregular heartbeat, may also be indicative of magnesium deficiency. Regular monitoring and addressing any symptoms through dietary adjustments or supplements are advisable.

When should you not take magnesium supplements?
Individuals with kidney problems should exercise caution and consult their healthcare provider before taking magnesium supplements. Impaired kidney function can impact magnesium excretion, and supplementing without medical guidance may lead to elevated magnesium levels. Additionally, anyone with allergies or sensitivities to magnesium supplements should avoid them. It’s essential to discuss supplement use with a healthcare professional, especially if there are underlying health conditions or concerns.

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Is it good to take magnesium when working out?
Yes, taking magnesium when working out can be beneficial. Magnesium is involved in energy production, muscle function, and the regulation of electrolytes, all of which are crucial during exercise. Supplementing with magnesium may help prevent muscle cramps, support energy metabolism, and aid in post-exercise recovery. However, it’s important to follow recommended dosage guidelines and consult with a healthcare professional, especially if there are existing health conditions or concerns.


Final Words – Should Runners Take Magnesium?

In summary, while magnesium may not always steal the spotlight compared to other minerals like sodium and potassium, its significance for runners and athletes is undeniable. Playing a pivotal role in over 300 chemical reactions in the body, magnesium is indispensable for optimal muscle function, energy production, and overall well-being.

Understanding the various forms of magnesium, including citrate, glycinate, oxide, and chloride, allows runners to make informed choices based on their specific needs and preferences. Whether sourced from dietary intake or supplements, magnesium is essential, especially during periods of heightened nutrient requirements such as half and full marathon training.

Exploring magnesium-rich foods and recognizing their role in supporting not only magnesium levels but also providing essential iron for runners emphasizes the holistic approach to nutrition. Incorporating these foods, along with considering magnesium supplementation, becomes crucial in meeting the demands of a runner’s body.

Addressing frequently asked questions reinforces the importance of magnesium for endurance athletes, identifies symptoms of deficiency, outlines precautions for supplement intake, and highlights the benefits of taking magnesium during workouts.

In conclusion, the comprehensive guide underscores the vital role magnesium plays in the realm of running, promoting not only physical resilience but also the overall health and performance of athletes. As runners lace up their shoes, a mindful approach to magnesium intake becomes a key component in the journey towards achieving peak performance and sustained well-being.

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