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  • Writer's pictureCRAIG BRYAN


Ever think about magnesium? Learn about this mineral and its particular importance for athletes.

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How much do you think about magnesium?

Chances are, you and your clients don’t give this marvelous mineral the credit it deserves. Name the bodily function, and chances are pretty good that magnesium is somehow involved. It plays a role in a diverse group of over 300 biochemical reactions in the body, including a number of them specific to physical activity: protein synthesis, muscle and nerve function, energy production, oxygen uptake and electrolyte balance. It’s also involved in blood glucose control, blood pressure regulation, structural bone development, normal heart rhythm and more (ODS 2019).

Missing Magnesium

Nutrition survey data shows that about half of all US adults don’t get enough magnesium in their diets (ODS 2019). For general good health, men need 400 to 420 mg/day of magnesium and women need 310 to 320 mg/day.

One of the best sources of magnesium is almonds, offering 20% of daily needs in every healthy handful. Dark leafy greens, seeds, beans and grain foods also offer magnesium in the diet.

Source:  ODS, Magnesium Fact Sheet

Athlete Magnesium Needs are Greater

Research shows that even marginal magnesium deficiency can impair exercise performance and amplify the negative effects associated with strenuous exercise (Nielsen & Lukaski 2006). Compared to a sedentary person of the same age and gender, athletes have a greater need for magnesium: 10 to 20 percent more (Nielsen & Lukaski 2006). For men, that means intake needs may be as high as 504 mg and for women, 384 mg daily.  Strenuous exercise has been shown to increase sweat and urinary losses, which is thought to account for at least part of this increased need (Nielsen & Lukaski 2006).

One easy—and delicious—way to get magnesium in the diet is to include almonds as a pre- or post-workout snack: tuck a handful of almonds in a gym bag or keep a baggie in the car to munch on. Along with being an excellent source of magnesium, a one ounce serving of almonds also offers 6 grams of powerful plant protein, 4 grams of filling fiber, 9 grams of healthy monounsaturated fats, 50% of daily needs for vitamin E, plus other vitamins and minerals. That’s a lot of nutrition, all packed into one little nut!

Encourage your clients to get adequate magnesium through diet instead of supplements. When it comes to smart nutrition, whole foods offer much more nutrition-wise than supplements, thanks to the synergistic effect between nutrients in foods.

In addition to enjoying almonds on their own, check out the Almond Board of California website, where you’ll find snack recipes and educational handouts to share with your clients.

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