Thursday, November 13, 2008

Using Magnesium to Peak Your Performance

In the last couple of years there's been a number of sports drinks that have been marketing the benefits of Magnesium.  I've understood the basics of the more common electrolytes found in these drinks, but wanted to know what this new Magnesium craze was all about.  Well, I didn't have to go much further than asking my good friend and Chiropractor, Dr. Warren Sipser.

As a keen cyclist and performance enhancing Chiropractor, I am always searching for improved ways to better my own scores as well as those of the athletes who seek my care. Chiropractic offers athletes and 'weekend warriors' the opportunity to function at their genetic maximum by removing any interferences affecting their nerve systems. It is the only profession that focuses on the delicate relationship between the performance of the nerve system and how the spine can interfere with normal function.

In my next article I will cover some ground breaking scientific studies about heart rate variability and why it is the brain and not the heart that will actually cause you to ride stronger and faster as well as recover more quickly.

Today we are going to begin a 3 article odyssey on the amazing benefits of magnesium and why the secret is now out.

While not all magnesium is created equal, a highly soluble, good quality form can aid enormously in not only your power and stamina, but also your recovery time. For more information about which types, feel free to contact me.

A key nutrient that we often overlook is magnesium. It is the agonist and antagonist to the much publicised calcium and both are needed for active muscle contractions and relaxations.The mineral magnesium is something of a 'Cinderella' nutrient. Most sportsmen and women know that it's required for health, but few really appreciate its importance for sport performance.

Current studies show that we do not ingest enough magnesium in our diest and we have declined to less than a half of those recorded at the end of the 19th century and are still falling.

  • A study of male athletes supplemented with 390mg of magnesium per day for 25 days, which resulted in an increased peak oxygen uptake and total work output during work capacity tests
  • A sub-maximal work study, which showed that magnesium supplementation reduced heart rate, ventilation rate, oxygen uptake and carbon dioxide production for a given workload
  • A study on physically active students, which showed that supplementing with 8mg of magnesium per kilo of body weight per day produced significant increases in endurance performance and decreased oxygen consumption during sub-maximal exercise.

A magnesium shortfall also appears to reduce the efficiency of muscle relaxation, which accounts for an important fraction of total energy needs during exercise.
Very recent research has indicated that magnesium supplementation could enhance performance in a hitherto unrecognised way – by reducing the accumulation of fatiguing lactic acid during intense exercise.

The researchers concluded that 'magnesium supplement may positively affect performance of sportsmen by decreasing their lactate levels'.

All of this sounds really important and the studies that I have summarised below from a great article on magnesium lends credence to it's importance in overall physical, mental and emotional well-being.

What is magnesium and why does it matter?

Pure magnesium is the second most abundant mineral in cells after potassium, but the 2oz or so found in the typical human body is present not as metal but as magnesium ions (positively charged magnesium atoms found either in solution or complexed with other tissues such as bone). Roughly one-quarter of this magnesium is found in muscle tissue and three-fifths in bone; but less than 1% of it is found in blood serum, although blood magnesium is used as the commonest indicator of magnesium status. This blood serum magnesium can further be subdivided into free ionic, complex-bound and protein-bound portions, but it's the ionic portion that's considered most important in measuring magnesium status, because it is physiologically active.

The researchers concluded that not only did supplemental magnesium help suppress lactate production, but that it also somehow increased glucose availability and metabolism in the brain during exercise. This is important because scientists now believe that the brain and central nervous system play a large role in determining the degree of muscular fatigue we feel; higher brain glucose availability could in theory translate into lower levels of perceived fatigue.

OK, so now that we have covered the first step about it, keep posted for the 2nd and 3rd installments which will cover when to use it, how to use it and why it boosts recovery time.

For more information check out

Keep Churning.
Warm regards,
Dr Warren Sipser B.Sc.(App Sc.) B.App.Sc.(Chiro) MCAA MACC



woodduck said...

Great posting Wade. I took a few doses of Magnesium prior to the Melbourne to Warrnambool as I suffer from cramping in long races when it's hot. They effectively cut out the cramps all together. After reading your post I think I'll keep taking them. Looking forward to reading parts 2 and 3.

The Woodduck