Following on from our blog on supplement recommendations, we’re going to look in a little greater depth at Magnesium and how it may improve your fitness, energy levels and sleep. 

Magnesium is one of the most common nutrients that ends up being deficient in diets. In a study 75% of Americans are recorded as having some form of deficiency, although only 2% in the study had a serious deficiency.

Another study suggests that -

“Approximately 50% of Americans consume less than the Estimated Average Requirement (EAR) for magnesium, and some age groups consume substantially less’.

In the UK a study shows that young people - in their twenties - have been found to be below the recommended magnesium intake. The study also suggests that overall micronutrient intake - including magnesium - amongst females 20-59 were not sufficient from diet alone.

Most forms of magnesium are okay to take other than magnesium L-threonate, rather than over thinking and looking into different types of magnesium any standard supplement is a good place to start.

In most cases people only have a mild inadequacy in their dietary intake, rather than a full blown deficiency. But for the purpose of the article we will refer to it as a deficiency. 

So what’s all the fuss about?  

There is some evidence to suggest that even a small deficiency can lead to deceased exercise performance and recovery. 

There is also evidence to suggest that magnesium may help with sleep and also will improve bone density.

What’s does it do? 

Magnesium is responsible for regulating muscle and nerve function, it is essential for synthesising protein. It is theorised to assist in the regulation of blood sugar and blood pressure. It is also a component in bone formation. It is essential to health. 

Deficiency leads to muscle weakness and poor training. Fatigue and tiredness. Apathy, muscle tremors and cramps. The chances are if you are deficient then you won’t have any obvious symptoms. 

If you exercise lots or are an athlete of any type, you may be at risk of deficiency. Magnesium loss through exercise may lead to a requirement of 10-30% more intake of magnesium.

How much do you need? 

The amount you are advised to take differs depending on your country and source in the UK 300mg is recommended for Men and 270mg for women.

Whereas the USA’s daily allowance is 420mg for Men and 320mg for women. The above figures are based on adults between 19-64 and 19-50 respectively.

You can - with a little planning - get all of the magnesium you need through your diet. 

What foods are good for magnesium? 

Magnesium is in high amounts in the below, 

  • Dark leafy greens such as spinach, cabbage, cavelo Nero. 
  • Nuts and seeds, Almonds, Cashews, Peanuts, and pumpkin seeds. 
  • Salmon and Tuna 
  • Avocado 
  • Edamame and Soy Beans 
  • Bananas 
  • Dark chocolate
  • Yogurts. 
  • Milk

Magnesium has relatively average ability to be absorbed through the gut, ranging from 25-60%. This doesn’t mean you have to take this into account when eating enough magnesium as the RDA’s when set do this calculation for you. 

IBD’s, alcoholism, type 2 diabetes and older populations may struggle with absorption of magnesium, in this case it would be worth speaking to a registered dietitian. 

So why supplement with magnesium? 

It’s always good practice to take a food first approach but in practical terms sometimes it’s just easier to take a supplement if there’s a likely risk of deficiency. What’s optimal in science and dietary studies isn’t always what’s practical for most people’s lifestyles. 

If you are restricting caloric intake for weight loss purposes or exercising regularly then supplemental magnesium maybe worth considering in the short term. 

It has been shown the it you correct a magnesium deficiency training performance can be increased. If you don’t have a deficiency training performance will stay the same. There’s really no extra benefit to having more magnesium than you need. 

How much magnesium should I take? 

200-400mg is perfect for the majority of people including athletes and regular exercisers.

As with most micronutrient supplementation it’s always best to er on the side of the smallest amount you can have, you can take too much. Minerals including magnesium and Vitamins A,D,E and K can build up inside your body if you have too much and cause nausea/toxicity. Avoid heavy dose multivitamins or supplements. 

What should I do next? 

The only true way to assess for magnesium deficiency is by getting tested or by monitoring food diaries. A food diary will give an indication of if a client is not consuming enough total magnesium.

Often this isn’t practical advice for everyone. 

Looking at the statistics it’s worth considering taking time learn about the foods you consume and trying to include magnesium rich foods in your diet. 

Nutrition takes time and commitment to learn the ins and outs and to optimise dietary intake. 

For more information on the supplements we recommend as personal trainers click here -

If you feel you need some help and advice on how best to plan your nutrition wether it be for weight loss or just to improve general health, feel free to contact us for a free consultation.