February is heart health month so of course we start to see more posts on heart-healthy recipes and natural ingredients. One thing you might notice is that many of these natural compounds fall into the category of antioxidants. This is a broad term that includes any substance that that can prevent or slow damage to cells caused by free radicals. Free radicals are unstable molecules that are produced in our bodies as results of normal cell energy production or from external damaging influences (i.e. UV radiation, chemicals etc.). The cardiovascular system is especially sensitive to the effects of free radicals.
As one of the most important nutrients in the diet, magnesium offers several
A deficiency in this valuable mineral will eventually cause health problems; correcting any underlying deficiency can also help to improve existing health conditions including headaches, chronic pain, osteoporosis, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and fibromyalgia. Numerous studies have reported improvements in the symptoms of these ailments when a person’s magnesium levels are restored to an optimal level. Magnesium is also extremely valuable for improving fitness performance and helping active individuals feel their best.
Magnesium for Improving Exercise Performance
Research demonstrates that having even a marginal magnesium deficiency is detrimental to achieving peak exercise performance, and a deficiency exacerbates the negative consequences of oxidative stress due to strenuous exercise. Exercise can also cause excessive magnesium loss through sweating and urination.1 Research has indicated that many people are deficient in magnesium due to low consumption.1 The recommended daily intake of magnesium for adult males is 420 mg/day and 320 mg/day for adult females.2 Athletes that are participating in sports that require weight control are particularly at risk for having magnesium deficiency and more recently, magnesium has been recognized as having a beneficial effect on athletic performance. Magnesium is able to improve metabolic efficiency, relax muscles and reduce soreness, and is necessary for proper bone development, sleep and mood balance, all of which are factors that not only affect general health but also physical fitness and performance.
Magnesium Research in Athletes
In one study, magnesium was shown to improve the physical performance of volleyball players.3 Twenty-five professional male volleyball players took part in a
Magnesium for Strong and Resilient Bones in Athletes
Having strong bones is important for athletes. It is well known
Choosing a Magnesium Form That Supports an Active Lifestyle
As with many minerals, supplemental magnesium is found in various forms. Calcium and magnesium may be combined with another stabilizing molecule to form what is called a chelate. The molecules that are formed from these combinations have a significant impact on how well magnesium is absorbed and utilized in the body. The following forms of magnesium may be most suitable for athletes and active individuals.
Magnesium Aspartate: This form has higher bioavailability compared to oxide and citrate. There were some promising clinical trials conducted in the 1960s that found a combination of magnesium and potassium aspartates had a positive effect on fatigue, and they reduced muscle hyperexcitability.7 Physiologically this makes sense since both magnesium and aspartic acid are critical players in cellular energy production which is important for everyone whether an athlete or not. This form is not as commonly used but has been used for chronic fatigue syndrome.
Magnesium Glycinate: Glycine is a well-known calming amino acid. This combination has good bioavailability and does not have a laxative effect since glycine is actively transported through the intestinal wall. Due to the calming and relaxing effect of both glycine and magnesium, this combination has been used successfully for chronic pain and muscle hypertonicity.8 Easing muscle tension is important for athletes that rely on their muscle power for optimal performance. Muscle hypertonicity can also occur as a result of stress from emotional or physical origin. Whether muscular hypertonicity arises from physical or emotional causes, the result is the same: lactic acid build-up and joint compression, both of which can impede physical performance and cause muscle pain.
Magnesium Malate: This less well-known combination has been studied for use in fibromyalgia. Since malate is a substrate in the cellular energy cycle, it can help improve ATP production. There is some preliminary evidence that it may reduce muscle pain and tender points in fibromyalgia patients.9 This form of magnesium may help to reduce muscle pain as a result of muscle taxation during athletic activity.
Magnesium Orotate: This is another relatively unknown chelate combination containing orotic acid. This form has good bioavailability and has been studied specifically for heart health. Orotates can penetrate cell membranes, enabling the effective delivery of the magnesium ion to the innermost layers of the cellular mitochondria and nucleus. Orotates themselves increase the formation of RNA and DNA which can help heart cells repair and therefore improve function. This combination has been shown to improve heart failure, symptoms of angina and exercise performance in clinical trials.10,11
In a double-blind randomized study, 23 competitive triathletes competing in an event consisting of a 500-meter swim, a 20-km bicycle race, and a 5-km run were studied after 4-week supplementation with placebo or 17 mmol/day of magnesium orotate. Results of the study demonstrated that the swimming, cycling, and running times decreased in the magnesium orotate group compared with the controls. Serum glucose concentration increased 87% during the test in the control group and 118% in the magnesium orotate group, while serum insulin increased 39% in the controls and decreased 65% in the magnesium-orotate group. The magnesium orotate group had a higher venous oxygen pressure than the control group and lower blood leukocyte counts and cortisol levels. Magnesium orotate was able to boost athletic performance and decrease stress in the triathletes.12
Other Forms of Magnesium
Based on this preliminary study, it appears that magnesium L-threonate is a highly absorbable form of magnesium that may potentially improve brain function, which is important for athletes under mental stress.
Magnesium Oxide: Often used in milk of magnesia products since this form has a strong laxative effect. Even though this combination contains a large proportion of magnesium compared to the oxide molecule, it has poor bioavailability and readily causes loose stools; therefore it is considered the least optimal form to use as a supplement.
Magnesium Sulfate: This form is often used as an intravenous preparation but it is not used in oral formulations. Since it does have some absorbability through the skin, it is also found in Epsom bath salts.
Magnesium Citrate: A commonly used form that has good bioavailability compared to oxide. It is also very rapidly absorbed in the digestive tract but does have a stool loosening effect.14 This form is found in many supplements and remains a solid option for delivering magnesium into the body.
Magnesium Taurate: Both magnesium and the amino acid taurine share the ability to improve cardiac function; each has a potentiating effect on insulin sensitivity and also a calming effect on neuromuscular excitability. The actions of both have striking similarities when it comes to cardiovascular health. They both have blood pressure reducing effects, stabilize nerve cells, improve the contraction of the heart muscle and have an antithrombotic effect.15 Additionally, low levels of vitamin B6 have been shown to further deplete both magnesium and taurine. Magnesium Pidolate (or picolinate): This form of magnesium has generated interest because it is very inexpensive and can easily be made into a liquid supplement. There really have not been any substantial research trials supporting its specific health benefits. The
Magnesium Ascorbate: Magnesium ascorbate is a buffered (non-acidic) form of vitamin C that will not contribute to gastric irritation in acid-sensitive persons. Magnesium ascorbate is synthesized from a combination of ascorbic acid and magnesium to form magnesium ascorbate. Magnesium ascorbate delivers antioxidant protection since it provides magnesium in combination with vitamin C.
Concluding Thoughts on Magnesium
Magnesium is essential for the body in order to maintain good health and is certainly beneficial for athletes. In supplement
What You Need to Know
Magnesium is an essential ingredient in your diet and helps your body to perform numerous functions from nerve control to detoxification to muscle relaxation. Those who take part in exercise and strenuous physical activities will require more magnesium than a sedentary person. Magnesium supplements are available in several different forms. Depending upon your own personal health needs and digestive ability, one form may be better than another and offer specific benefits. A combination magnesium product such as AOR’s Advanced Magnesium Complex will cover all of your bases and ensure you are obtaining the many benefits that a magnesium supplement can provide to your body.
- Elin RJ. Magnesium: the fifth but forgotten electrolyte. Am J Clin Pathol. 1994 Nov;102(5):616-22.
- Health Canada Website: http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/nutrition/reference/table/ref_elements_tbl-eng.php, accessed March, 2014.
- Setaro L et al. Magnesium status and the physical performance of volleyball players: effects of magnesium supplementation. J Sports Sci. 2013 Sep 9.
- Henry C. Lukaski and Forrest H. Nielsen. Dietary Magnesium Depletion Affects Metabolic Responses during Submaximal Exercise in Postmenopausal Women1,2 J Nutr 132:930-935 (2002).
- Chen HY et al. Magnesium enhances exercise performance via increasing glucose availability in the blood, muscle, and brain during exercise. 2014 Jan 20;9(1):e85486.
- Matias CN et al. Magnesium intake mediates the association between bone mineral density and lean soft tissue in elite swimmers. Magnes Res. 2012 Jul-Sep;25(3):120-5.
- Nagle FJ et al. The mitigation of physical fatigue with “Spartase”. FAA Office of Aviation Medicine Reports. Rep Civ Aeromed Res Inst US. 1963 Jul;26:1-10.
- Lamontagne C et al. (2012) Rapid Resolution of Chronic Back Pain with Magnesium Glycinate in a Pediatric Patient. J Pain Relief 1:101.
- Abraham GE, Flechas JD. Management of Fibromyalgia: Rationale for the Use of Magnesium and Malic Acid.
- Stepura OB et al. Orotic acid as a metabolic agent. Vestn Ross Akad Med Nauk. 2002; (2): 39-41.
- Geiss KR et al. Effects of magnesium orotate on exercise tolerance in patients with coronary heart disease. Cardiovasc Drugs Ther. 1998 Sep; 12 Suppl 2:153-6.
- Golf SW et al.On the significance of magnesium in extreme physical stress. Cardiovasc Drugs Ther. 1998 Sep;12 Suppl 2:197-202.
- Coudray C et al: Study of magnesium bioavailability from ten organic and inorganic Mg salts in Mg- depleted rats using a stable isotope approach. Magnes Res 2005;18:215–223.
- Slutsky I et al. Enhancement of learning and memory by elevating brain magnesium. Neuron. 2010 Jan 28;65(2):165-77.
- McCarty MF. Complementary Vascular-Protective Actions of Magnesium and Taurine: A Rationale for Magnesium Taurate. Medical
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Chen HY et al. Magnes Res. 2012 Jul-Sep;25(3):120-5. doi: 10.1684/mrh.2012.0317. Magnesium Enhances Exercise Performance via Increasing Glucose Availability in the Blood, Muscle, and Brain during Exercise.Abraham GE and Flechas JD. Management of Fibromyalgia: Rationale for the Use of Magnesium and Malic Acid. Journal of Nutritional Medicine (1992) 3, 49-59 r