Magnesium Monumental for Athletic Performance!

Published on February 23, 2014 by Dr. Colin O'Brien

Magnesium is an extremely important mineral for proper muscle function in any population. However, its importance for athletic performance is proving to be monumental! A few years back, researchers studied levels of dietary magnesium intake in elite basketball, handball and volleyball players. Analyses of this group found that there was a direct relationship between magnesium intake and improved athletic markers such as jumping performance and strength tests (more magnesium leads to better outcomes). These findings were independent of total caloric intake or other dietary factors such as protein intake. As a note, the average intake of magnesium in these elite athletes was actually below the recommended daily allowance, a value set for the general population.

Just recently, an even more interesting study was released concerning magnesium supplementation and athletic performance. This study examined the impact of 350mg of magnesium per day on professional male volleyball players over a period of four weeks. When compared to the placebo group, the players supplementing with magnesium showed up to a 3cm increase in jump measurements. Now, to be clear, a 3cm improvement after only 4 weeks is quite significant in the game of volleyball, especially at an elite level. Yet the most impressive aspect of this study is that these performance gains were despite a normal baseline value of magnesium. Put another way, the subjects didn’t begin the study with deficient magnesium levels. Instead, the athletes started the study with “normal” amounts of magnesium in their bodies, yet still exhibited improvements in athletic performance with additional magnesium!

If we extrapolate these results, you can make the argument that all athletes should be supplementing with magnesium to improve their athletic performance. Of course more research is needed across various types of sports, and involving greater participant numbers; however, the preliminary findings are exciting. So regardless of whether you are a weekend warrior or a competitive tri-athlete, you should consider the benefits of magnesium supplementation for your performance. At the very least, your tight muscles and post-exercise muscle soreness will benefit from the extra magnesium. In addition, magnesium is necessary for proper bone development, sleep and mood balance.

Lastly, what do you think is the single most important supplement for athletic performance (macronutrients like protein and carbohydrates excluded)? Do you think magnesium deserves this kind of praise? Leave a comment below and let us know!

For more information regarding the different forms of magnesium supplementation and to help determine which may be best for you, please visit: "Understanding Different Types of Magnesium".

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Santos DA, Matias CN, Monteiro CP, Silva AM, Rocha PM, Minderico CS, Bettencourt Sardinha L and Laires MJ. Magnesium intake is associated with strength performance in elite basketball, handball and volleyball players. Magnes Res. 2011 Dec;24(4):215-9.
Setaro L, Santos-Silva PR, Nakano EY, Sales CH, Nunes N, Greve JM and Colli C. Magnesium status and the physical performance of volleyball players: effects of magnesium supplementation. J Sports Sci. 2013 Sep 9.