Why Magnesium Is An Important Part of Any Endurance Athletes' Diet

Endurance athletes have a lot to think about when it comes to their nutrient intake. Are you getting enough sodium to compensate for the amount you’ll lose through sweat? Enough iron for optimum haemoglobin production? Unless you’re working with a dietitian though, one of the things you’re probably not thinking about is a magnesium supplement.

Magnesium is required by almost every cell in your body in order to function properly and is crucial for energy metabolism. Energy requirements for endurance athletes are higher (as much as 20%!) than for the average person so they run a much bigger risk of becoming deficient in magnesium.

Current NHS guidelines recommend around 300mg of magnesium a day for men and 270mg a day for women, and all of that needs to come from your diet. While you can get a healthy amount of it from magnesium rich foods such as nuts, seeds, and leafy greens, anybody living on a diet high in protein or full of starches and processed foods is probably consuming insufficient amounts of magnesium, especially for athletic performance.

One of the biggest advantages magnesium supplements offer endurance athletes is their role in limiting the buildup of lactic acid and if you’re especially prone to fatigue and muscle soreness after a long bout of exercise it could be a sign that you’re not getting enough magnesium in your diet. This is because magnesium helps to control the process in which muscles fibres contract and relax and prevents them from spasming.

As well as protecting your muscles, magnesium is a catalyst for the enzymes which enable muscle protein synthesis. Having enough in reserve is important to keep you performing at your peak without compromising strength or recovery.

By some estimates as much as 80% of the population could be deficient in magnesium. Because the required intake for endurance athletes is so much higher than for the general population, making sure your body’s stores of magnesium are fully stocked is potentially an easy way for them to train harder, recover faster, and unlock a little extra performance.