Magnesium: The Muscle Mineral

What separates the average Joe six-pack (muscle, not beer) from professional body builders? Other than genetics, and lifting heavier weights, it is probably not your workout. The differences lie in the fine details; really warming up before a workout, weighing food, counting calories, planning meals and understanding muscle nutrition.

While there are many minerals that are important for muscle growth and metabolism, perhaps the most important is magnesium.* Magnesium is an electrolyte that is critical to cellular energy, vitality and membrane integrity.* Magnesium is also a cofactor in more than 300 biochemical reactions. There is a strong link between magnesium levels and the stress hormones cortisol.1

So what does magnesium do for muscles?

Magnesium plays a critical role in anaerobic and aerobic energy production. Specifically, the synthesis of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) relies on magnesium dependant enzymes (ATPases). ATP is the ‘energy currency’ of the body and fuels all muscle contractions. Extra magnesium can improve athletic performance if you are below optimal levels. 2,3,4

There are studies carried out on resistant trained and physically active people that would argue against the need to supplement magnesium5,6. However, these studies assume no deficiency in serum magnesium levels. Even when the quality of food is high and the diet is balanced, athletes often struggle to meet magnesium needs so supplementing to RDI levels (400 mg) is advisable.

Sources of magnesium include halibut, whole grains, cereals, green leafy vegetables, nuts and supplements.

1. Br J Nutr 100(5):1038-45 (2008)
2. J Nutr 132:930-935 (2002)
3. Endocrinol Metab Clin N Am 22:377-395 (1993)
4. Med Exerc Nutr Health 4:230-233 (1995)
5. Med Sci Sports Exerc 33: 493-498 (2001)
6. J Int Soc Sports Nutr 1:12-20 (2004)


The views and opinions expressed in this article or blog are strictly those of the author. The contents of this article or blog and any reference herein to any specific commercial product, process, or service whether by trade name, trademark, manufacturer, or otherwise, does not constitute or imply its endorsement or recommendation by ISI Brands and ISI Brands assumes no legal liability or responsibility for the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of any information, product, service or process disclosed or referenced herein. All information is provided on an as-is basis and is provide for information purposes only. Always consult your physician before beginning any diet or exercise program.