Magnesium: The Critical Electrolyte You Really Need
The subject of electrolytes is a common one amongst endurance athletes. A majority of the focus has been sodium, calcium, and potassium, which are certainly important. Unfortunately, magnesium is often overlooked. This critical electrolyte plays a key role in many functions of your body and is crucial to your performance.
The Importance of Magnesium
Electrolytes are ionized minerals that conduct electrical impulses and action potentials (e.g. contraction of a muscle), and are present throughout the human body. Simply put, the balance of the electrolytes is critical for normal function of cells and organs. Magnesium plays a critical role for extended bouts of muscular contractions and cramp prevention– just as much as the other three. Most people do not realize that magnesium plays an important role in calcium and oxygen transport throughout the cells of the human body. In fact, more than 300 nerve impulses and enzymatic reactions require magnesium as a co-factor. Besides calcium and oxygen transport, magnesium can directly affect sodium and potassium inter-cellular transport throughout cells as well. Longer and more intense exercise can deplete magnesium levels. Magnesium is excreted primarily through sweat and urine, therefore, cold fluids (empty out of the gut faster) are the preferred choice for replenishment during exercise.
Regardless of the type of sport or exercise, muscular contractions could not consistently occur without magnesium’s presence. Through aerobic and anaerobic metabolism- glycolysis occurs, in short, oxygen is delivered and utilized via magnesium. Therefore, O2 delivery to working musculature and energy production in the form of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) (the source for all energy production) would not happen without magnesium presence.
About the Author: Todd Parker is a former professional triathlete, elite cyclist, personal trainer and strength coach with a Masters in Exercise Physiology and Human Performance. Todd is also a professor, an exercise physiologist, certified cycling coach, and endurance sports coach. TrainingPeaks.com