Fed up of cramping mid-run? Here’s why you should increase your magnesium

magnesium benefits

Magnesium benefits: why it’s key for runnersGetty Images

Magnesium-rich foods – including whole grains, nuts, seeds and dark leafy greens – are key for a healthy, balanced diet. But for runners, in particular, magnesium is essential for post-training muscle recovery and preventing muscle cramping.

What does magnesium do?

Magnesium benefits are far-reaching for athletes looking to improve performance. The mineral is required for energy production, muscle recovery and bone development. It protects us from oxidative damage, which is increased as a result of the energy produced when we run. It also supports resistance to mental stress and acts as a muscle relaxant. Optimal magnesium levels can help reduce fatigue, maintain normal blood pressure and protect your DNA. Magnesium might also help reduce the accumulation of lactic acid during hard sessions.

How can I tell if I’m deficient in magnesium?

Fatigue and muscle spasms or cramps are among the symptoms, but these can have many different causes. Low magnesium levels over a long period can compromise your health in various ways and even lead to osteoporosis. Those typically at risk are people with gastrointestinal diseases or type 2 diabetes, elderly people and those who aren’t consuming optimal amounts in their diet.

How much magnesium per day?

Before you even think about supplements, try to increase the amount of magnesium-rich foods in your diet. The recommended daily intake for adults is between 300mg and 400mg per day. Include leafy greens in your diet – they are rich in magnesium. Add a big handful of spinach to your post-run smoothie, or into a salad. Kale is also high in magnesium, while some nuts and seeds are heaving with the stuff.

Best magnesium-rich foods

Fruit & veg

• Kale 88mg per 100g
• Spinach 79mg per 100g
• Green peas 33mg per 100g
• Avocados 29mg per 100g

nuts

• Brazil nuts 350mg per 100g
• Cashew nuts 250mg per 100g
• Peanuts 160mg per 100g
• Walnuts 150mg per 100g

Seeds

• Pumpkin seeds 590mg per 100g
• Sesame seed 350mg per 100g
• Sunflower seeds 325mg per 100g

Soya products

• Soybeans 280mg per 100g
• Tofu 60mg per 100g

Legumes

• Lentils 36mg per 100g
• Raw pinto beans 176mg per 100g

What are the best magnesium supplements?

While we might naturally turn to a magnesium supplement in pill form, in some cases the digestive system can fail to absorb nutrients efficiently. Skin-absorbed supplements are well worth considering – they are available in forms such as body butters, oils and flakes that you can add to your bath. A post-run magnesium bath is a great way to help soothe both muscles and mind.

The best magnesium supplements

Best body butters

Best magnesium food supplements

Best magnesium bath flakes

Kim Pearson is a qualified nutritionist, with more than 12 years’ experience. kim-pearson.com

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