If you’re hoping to get serious about fitness this year, you may want to ensure you have enough magnesium in your diet, according the latest reports from health experts.
Without enough of his magic supplement you’re at risk of injury during workout, and you may not reach your body’s full fitness potential.
According to the Washington Post, magnesium helps muscles remain flexible and without it muscles can’t relax, resulting in cramping and possible injury.
Low magnesium levels can further result in a buildup of lactic acid, causing pain and tightness in your muscles after a workout.
Magnesium is involved in countless metabolic processes in your body, including those needed for physical activity and performance, says Tom Hritz, PhD, RD, LDN, and Clinical Nutrition Manager at Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMC in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
When you have ample magnesium in your diet, the mineral can be available for the muscles you’re working during your exercises, which helps increase strength and power.
“Studies done with trained athletes report an increase in delivery of oxygen to working muscles and less reliance on anaerobic metabolism when adequately nourished with magnesium,” says Tom.
These athletes were able to push themselves harder and had better endurance in cardio-type activities with less muscle fatigue. Tom cautions that more research needs to be done before a conclusion can be drawn.
But meeting the recommended daily intake of magnesium (350 to 360 milligrams depending on age) helps the body produce “more insulin-like growth factor,” a much-needed aspect in continued muscle growth and strengthening, the Washington Post reports.
However, if you’re already getting enough magnesium from the foods in your diet, there is no evidence that additional amounts will improve your performance, adds Toms.
“You should be able to meet your daily magnesium needs through a good, healthy diet,” he says.
“The best food sources for magnesium are nuts, seeds, beans, whole grains, and leafy, green vegetables. If you eat some or all of these foods daily, you should not need to take magnesium supplements.”
To incorporate more magnesium in your diet, Tom recommends foods including pumpkin seeds, cooked oatmeal, bananas, black beans, and firm tofu.
5 signs you could be magnesium deficient
1. The littlest things give you a headache
2. You’re constipated
3. You’re shakier than normal
4. You have trouble sleeping
5. Your energy levels have dipped