Why is Magnesium so vital for overall body function and performance?

Magnesium is required by millions of cells in the body to carry out a range of very important biochemical processes every day. Magnesium is involved in the metabolism and break down of the foods we consume, muscle and nerve function, bone health, nervous system and sleep regulation.

One of Magnesium’s main processes in the body is energy production, the metabolism and breakdown of the foods we consume to be converted into energy. This is extremely important when it comes to exercise, exercise performance and body composition as inadequate amounts will impact how well your body breaks down glucose and how it is used in the body.

Poor glucose and protein metabolism can be a key player in your exercise performance, impacting how well you drop weight with your body not able to use your energy as effectively as possible. Poor glucose metabolism can also lead to lack of energy and fatigue, impacting the quality and quantity of your exercise with fatigue setting in reducing how well you perform during exercise.

Magnesium is involved in many processes that affect muscles and nerve function, helping muscle fibres to relax, relieving and assisting in the prevention of muscular cramps and spasms. If magnesium is being depleted quicker than it is being replenished then muscle fibres are able to contract but struggle to relax, leading to prolonged contraction.

So how much Magnesium does the body need?

The Recommended dietary intake (RDI) for aged 19 years & above is 310 -320 mg/day for females and 400- 420 mg/day for males. Magnesium rich food sources include almonds, boiled spinach, cashews, black beans, cacao, avocado, plain yoghurt, peanuts, kelp, figs, salmon and edamame beans.

Consuming a handful of almonds along with a spinach avocado salad with a few pieces of dark chocolate doesn’t seem hard to consume daily. So why is a big part of the population lacking in magnesium, when it seems so easy to consume through everyday foods?

33% of the Australian population do not meet their daily magnesium requirement, but why is this? The amount of magnesium absorbed into the body is dependent on many various factors. These factors include:

  • Dietary intake
  • Soil quality
  • Stress levels
  • Caffeine, alcohol & tea intake
  • Supplementation – Types & form of magnesium
  • Medication
  • Compromised gut health – poor absorption
  • Exercise- excess sweating

Coffee and tea contain tannins which affect the absorption of magnesium, along with the caffeine having a diuretic effect on the body increasing the loss of water and minerals through urination. Alcohol and medication also have the same diuretic effect, in addition to the body using up more magnesium to try process and excrete alcohol from the body.

Electrolyte balance in the body relies on adequate amounts of magnesium to support the transportation of vitamins and minerals such as calcium and potassium across the cell membrane. Exercise causes sweat loss and increased urination with minerals being excreted along with fluids, influencing electrolyte balance in the body.

Stress plays a role in regulation of magnesium in the body with ongoing stress depleting magnesium levels, then with low levels of magnesium leading to more heightened stress levels. This cycle can not only lead to depleted magnesium levels but can start impact energy levels, sleep and mood regulation.