Why do runners need magnesium?
Magnesium is required for energy production, muscle recovery and bone development. It protects us from oxidative damage, which is increased as a result of the energy produced when we run. It also supports resistance to mental stress and acts as a smooth-muscle relaxant. Optimal magnesium levels can help reduce tiredness, maintain normal blood pressure and protect your DNA. Magnesium might also help reduce the accumulation of lactic acid during hard sessions.
How can I tell if I’m deficient?
Fatigue and muscle spasms or cramps are among the symptoms; but these can have many different causes. Low magnesium levels over a long period can compromise your health in various ways and even lead to osteoporosis. Those typically at risk are people with gastrointestinal diseases or type 2 diabetes, elderly people and those who aren’t consuming optimal amounts in their diet.
How can I boost my levels?
Before you even think about supplements, try to increase the amount of magnesium-rich foods in your diet. The recommended daily intake for adults is between 300mg and 400mg per day. Include leafy greens in your diet – they are rich in magnesium. Add a big handful of spinach to your post-run smoothie, or into a salad. Kale is also high in magnesium, while some nuts and seeds are heaving with the stuff.
Best magnesium-rich foods
Fruit & veg
• Kale 88mg per 100g
• Spinach 79mg per 100g
• Green peas 33mg per 100g
• Avocados 29mg per 100g
• Brazil nuts 350mg per 100g
• Cashew nuts 250mg per 100g
• Peanuts 160mg per 100g
• Walnuts 150mg per 100g
• Pumpkin seeds 590mg per 100g
• Sesame seeds 350mg per 100g
• Sunflower seeds 325mg per 100g
• Soybeans 280mg per 100g
• Tofu 60mg per 100g
• Lentils 36mg per 100g
• Raw pinto beans 176mg per 100g
How can I supplement magnesium?
While we might naturally turn to a pill, in some cases the digestive system can fail to absorb nutrients efficiently. Skin-absorbed supplements are well worth considering; these are available in forms such as body butters, oils and flakes that you can add to your bath. A postrun magnesium bath is a great way to help soothe both muscles and mind.
My top three magnesium supplements
A creamy body butter that’s great for massaging into aching muscles.
A blend of bioavailable (easy-to-absorb) magnesium derived from seawater.
A cost-effective bag of crystal magnesium flakes. Pour two cups into a bath and enjoy a mineral-rich soak.
Kim Pearson is a qualified nutritionist, with more than 12 years’ experience. kim-pearson.com
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