Why you need magnesium!
Magnesium is a vital mineral for the body and one of the nutrients we need to eat the most of. Magnesium is involved in a large number of the body's biochemical reactions and is needed to activate over 300 different enzymes! It is essential for muscle function, bone structure, the nervous system and energy metabolism. Magnesium acts broadly in the body in many different areas which can make it a little tricky to know if you are experiencing symptoms of deficiency, but a very common sign of magnesium deficiency is muscle cramps and so-called "ant bites" in the legs. This is due to an imbalance between the salts inside and outside the cell (electrolyte balance) where magnesium is an important factor. Without magnesium, the body's cells cannot produce energy, which means that at low magnesium levels you can experience fatigue and exhaustion, which are also common signs of deficiency.
The list of why you need magnesium could go on and on, but to make it as concrete as possible, we'll point it out. Magnesium is important in the following areas:
- Electrolyte balance (salt balance)
- In case of fatigue and exhaustion
- Energy turnover
- Nervous system
- Protein synthesis
- Cell division
- Calcium metabolism
Magnesium in the diet
Magnesium is found in many foods, but in varying amounts. Good sources of magnesium in the diet are nuts, green leafy vegetables, whole grain cereals, almonds, beans, potatoes, fish, meat and dairy products. However, it is important to remember that chemical fertilisers prevent plants from extracting magnesium from the soil, so magnesium levels vary greatly depending on the origin of the plant. In addition, the absorption of magnesium can be reduced by the simultaneous intake of foods rich in phytic acid such as nuts, cereals, vegetables and pulses. Absorption is also impaired by very low protein intake. As if this were not enough, coffee, tea, soft drinks and other diuretics, such as diuretic medication, can stimulate the excretion of magnesium in the urine. In addition, heavy alcohol consumption can be a further factor in magnesium depletion, which can cause a shortage of the mineral. In other words, there are a number of factors that can significantly increase the body's need for magnesium.
As magnesium is a water-soluble substance, it is less easily stored in the body and needs to be supplied continuously through diet and/or supplements.
Magnesium in training
Many people have probably heard that magnesium can be particularly important during exercise. This is related to magnesium's role in muscle function, specifically muscle contraction. When we contract a muscle, i.e. perform a muscle contraction, magnesium and calcium interact. Calcium is needed to tense the muscle and magnesium to make the muscle relax again. This also applies to the heart muscle, making magnesium an important mineral for the functioning of the heart. Furthermore, magnesium is necessary for the muscle to then extract energy in the form of ATP (energy production). As magnesium helps to reduce fatigue and exhaustion, there are also benefits to magnesium in exercise. Magnesium is also excreted with sweat, so the more you exercise and sweat, the more you need to watch your magnesium intake.
Relaxation and recovery
As described above, magnesium is important for muscle relaxation and for the nervous system and there are several ways to get magnesium, not just by mouth. Magnesium is not only absorbed through the intestinal mucosa when consuming food or supplements, it is also absorbed through the skin. For this reason, Epsom salt has become very popular for sore and tired muscles. Epsom salt is a magnesium salt used in baths and footbaths. This magnesium salt has long been used to relieve stress, tired sore muscles and muscle knots.