Magnesium: Essential for Exercise and Fitness

Magnesium for exercise is not normally thought of, but as it is turning out the benefits of magnesium supplements include playing a critical role in athletic performance.

The connection between low magnesium and heart disease has long been studied and in fact low magnesium has been considered a major cardiovascular risk. For example, research has explored the association between low magnesium, and sudden death[i] and later, low magnesium as a risk for heart disease in general.[ii]

Why would such a seemingly common element be under suspicion as an underlying factor for poor heart health?

Because we may not be supplementing it enough and magnesium is excreted from the body by urination and perspiration. Medical science points to the fact that while exercising, athletes, or anyone physically exerting themselves may need to supplement their Magnesium requirements by as much as 10 percent to 20 percent.[iii]

Group Cardio Exercising

The benefits of magnesium supplements has also been studied extensively in its role in diabetes. This research is continuing to the present day. For example, 2007 studies were conducted on magnesium in an across the board analysis on many risk factors[iv] associated with the disease and another study on magnesium, diabetes and kidney function.[v]

There appears to be direct connection with the way our bodies process glucose and magnesium levels and the connection appears to be quite solid.[vi] Certainly research has been conducted that shows the benefits of magnesium supplements include helping with insulin sensitivity. For example, trials in 2004 showed positive effects between magnesium sensitivity and glucose utilization on human subjects.[vii]

If there were no other athletic or fitness connections at all aas to the positive effects of supplementing magnesium for exercise save for heart health and energy usage that would be more than enough for athletes who train under rigorous conditions. However there are many other associations that are being actively studied. For example, taking Magnesium for exercise has been shown to assist in the treatment of leg cramps[viii] as well as so-called restless leg syndrome.

Given all of this research as to the positive effects of magnesium and athletics, it is not surprising that research has been conducted as to how magnesium affects performance itself. For example, a 2006 study on female tri-athletes showed that all other factors being equal, magnesium did appear to improve swimming times.[ix]

Supplementing Magnesium for exercise therefore has many positive attributes which indicate it is a very worthwhile supplement for athletes to be taking as part of an overall exercise regimen. In the broader picture, the benefits of magnesium supplements shows the value of supplementing in general for athletes and non-athletes alike.

The recommended daily dosage for Magnesium ranges from approximately 300 mg to 360 mg per day in adult females and approximately 400 mg to 420 mg per day for adult males. However, athletes who hydrate and then excrete magnesium through sweat and urination may need more.


[i] Johnson CJ, Peterson DR, Smith EK. Myocardial tissue concentrations of magnesium and potassium in men dying suddenly from ischemic heart disease. Am J Clin Nutr 1979;32: 967–970
[ii] Liao F, Folsom AR, Brancati FL. Is low magnesium concentration a risk factor for coronary heart disease? The Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) Study. Am Heart J 1998; 136: 480–490
[iii] Golf SW, Bender S, Grüttner J. On the significance of magnesium in extreme physical stress. Cardiovasc Drugs Ther. (1998)
[iv] Larsson SC, Wolk A. Magnesium intake and risk of type 2 diabetes: a meta-analysis. J Intern Med 2007; 262: 208–214
[v] Pham PC, Pham PM, Pham SV et al. Hypomagnesemia in patients with type 2 diabetes. Clin J Am Soc Nephrol 2007;2: 366–373
[vi] Simmons D, Joshi S, Shaw J. Hypomagnesaemia is associated with diabetes: Not pre-diabetes, obesity or the metabolic syndrome. Diabetes Res Clin Pract 2010; 87: 261–266
[vii] Guerrero-Romero F, Tamez-Perez HE, Gonzalez-Gonzalez G,et al. Oral magnesium supplementation improves insulin sensitivity in non-diabetic subjects with insulin resistance.A double-blind placebo-controlled randomized trial. Diabetes Metab 2004; 30: 253–258
[viii] Roffe C, Sills S, Crome P et al. Randomised, cross-over, placebo controlled trial of magnesium citrate in the treatment of chronic persistent leg cramps. Med Sci Monit 2002; 8:CR326–CR330
[ix] Nielsen FH & Lukaski HC, Update on the relationship between magnesium and exercise. 2006. Magnes Res. Sep;19(3):180-9