The Benefits of Magnesium for Exercise

Magnesium is a mineral found in the human body and is co-factor in more than 300 enzyme systems that regulate diverse biochemical reactions in the body, including nerve function, protein synthesis, muscle function, blood glucose control, and blood pressure regulation. 50-60% of magnesium in our bodies is found in our bones with the rest in our muscles and soft tissue.  In fact, every cell in your body contains it, and needs it to function.


We need about 310mg-400mg of magnesium daily and getting this through diet alone can be tricky so magnesium deficiency or more specifically ‘inadequacy’ is relatively common. Symptoms of magnesium deficiency may include muscle twitches, irritability, and muscle weakness, nausea, general fatigue, and a loss of appetite. In more severe cases, magnesium deficiency may lead to heart problems, including irregular heart rhythm, muscle cramping and spasms, weakness, trouble sleeping, seizures, and tremors.


How Much Magnesium Do You Need Each Day?

14-18 years

360 mg/day

19-30 years

310 mg/day

31 years and over

320 mg/day

320 mg/day

Under 19 years: 400 mg/day 

19 to 30 years: 350 mg/day 

31 years and up: 360 mg/day



Magnesium is commonly found in plant foods such as dark leafy green vegetables, spinach, legumes, nuts, seeds, avocados, bananas, dried fruit and whole grains, as well as fish and yoghurt. Snacking on a small handful raw almonds is a great way to get magnesium into your day. Magnesium supplements are also available in a variety of forms, including magnesium oxide, citrate, and amino acid chelate.


Magnesium is an essential mineral for staying healthy and is required for all of the body’s critical processes as it regulates and promotes proper function in nerves, cells and muscles. One of its main roles is acting as a co-factor or “helper molecule” in the biochemical reactions continuously performed by enzymes.  Magnesium also plays a role in exercise performance and recovery. Magnesium helps move blood sugar into your muscles and dispose of lactic acid, which can build up in muscles during exercise and cause pain so supplementing with it can boost exercise performance for athletes, the elderly and people with chronic disease. In fact, during exercise you may actually need 10–20% more magnesium than when you’re resting, depending on the activity, and without it athletic performance can be inhibited.


Concentration of magnesium in the blood increases by approximately 5 to 15 percent after short bouts of high-intensity exercise and a smaller percentage after moderate exercise, if sustained over long periods. This may be the effect of increased loss of magnesium through sweat and urine, and the movement of magnesium into other areas of the body. The explanation seems to be that your body sends magnesium to the parts of the body with the greatest metabolic need, where increased energy production is required. As a result, the body may need its magnesium levels replenished after increased activity.


Magnesium also plays a big role post-workout through its ability to relax muscles and speed up recovery times, as well as improve sleep quality as it is the flow of magnesium and calcium through the muscle cells that controls contraction and relaxation. In addition magnesium, along with other minerals, such as sodium, potassium and calcium, are excreted when we sweat. As such it makes sense that magnesium is the ideal mineral to help with post-exercise soreness, cramping and muscle fatigue.

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