Keeping with the theme of my previous post, today’s post is about magnesium.
Since deciding not to compete this spring, I have been focusing on whole health, starting with the inside. After a few years of competing without a break there can be culminative effects. I was recently told that nutritional deficits in offseason was unheard of. But research has shown that it takes at least 6 months for your hormones and body to return to normal. So if you are competing multiple times in one year, your body has yet had time to replenish it stores of certain nutrients and minerals. In addition, in our busy day to day lives, between work, workouts, social outings and everything in between we sometimes neglect to actually examine the nutrient content of our diets.
We eat to just get our meals in, maybe only focus on macros, or just eat what’s convenient. In the case of magnesium, the content of foods depends on the soil they’re grown in, and that soil is becoming rapidly depleted by modern agriculture. In fact, the Nutrition Facts labels on fruits and vegetables may actually be misleading in some cases, because the soil has declined in quality since the USDA tested the foods. Purified water (aka the distilled stuff you conveniently buy at the coffee shop or in the vending machine) is also to blame, as it lack mineral content.
Magnesium is crucial for bone strength and development, and it’s required for over 300 enzymatic reactions, including many of the reactions that generate energy for your cells and control critical neurotransmitters. Deficiency can cause all kinds of symptoms including mental issues (difficulty concentrating and remembering things), muscle twitches and soreness, and a feeling of constant fatigue.
Magnesium is well known for its ability to relieve insomnia. As I’ve previously mentioned, especially in competitors doing two and three a days, elevated cortisol can be a huge issue. One study found that magnesium helped to decrease cortisol, that can keep you up at night. It also helps muscles relax, to give you that calm “sleepy” feeling. This being one of the reasons it can be found in ZMA. There has also been some promising research on its ability to help in depression, anxiety and other mood disorders.
Another benefit of magnesium may be recovery. Most people are all to familiar with DOMS. A magnesium deficiency can contribute to this sensation. Magnesium is an important component in muscle relaxation, post contraction. Therefore, if the muscle continues to contract you end up with a very painful cramp or spasm. I’ve personally been victim to waking up with these in my calves.
Any kind of magnesium supplementation will help with this problem, but a bath with some magnesium-rich Epsom salts is particularly good because the hot water of the bath also helps relax the muscles. I often recommend Epson salt baths to new clients who experience extremes soreness, associated with starting a new exercise program.
Lastly, which is particularly or interest to anyone who’s on an insulin sensitivity program,such as carb cycling, looking to maximize their body’s insulin response. There is some research which states that magnesium can help maintain insulin sensitivity and even blood lipid profile. Previous studies that show magnesium deficiency is associated with diabetes. However these results might be confounding, and purely related to a correlation between poor eating habits, such as diets high in sugar, and mineral deficiencies. None the less, more studies are continuing to find a link, so at worst, there is no detrimental effect to supplementing.
So ladies, when feeling sore, tired, stressed, maybe then to magnesium at night instead of that glass of wine or “detox” tea.
Health always starts from within.