I don’t like to recommend a lot of supplements to people. I believe that eating a healthy diet is the most important way of maintaining overall health. One of the few supplements I do recommend to benefit your overall health, is magnesium. Magnesium is an essential mineral that you are probably not getting enough of. There are over 300 important bodily functions that are dependent on magnesium.
Some of the basic health benefits of magnesium include deeper, more restful sleep, and higher levels of energy throughout the day.
Aside from the basic health benefits, there are a number of performance benefits as well. CrossFit and other high intensity interval training systems have plenty of demands. These demands are met by ATP, the molecule your body uses for energy. To get the most out of your workouts and to increase your output and intensity, your ATP production should be as high as possible to meet the demands of your workout. If not, you will wind up fatigued, sore and missing out on the maximum benefits of your exercise.
There are two pathways that increase ATP production to meet the demands of your workout. Both include modulating the factories in your cells that manufacture ATP – the mitochondria.The two ways to increase ATP production are:
1) Increase the total number of mitochondria.
Think of this as adding more factories for production of a necessary product.
2) Increase the efficiency of the existing mitochondria by repair.
Think of this as training the workers to increase productivity in the current factories and fixing broken down machines.
Both avenues of increasing ATP production are entirely dependent on magnesium. Magnesium is required to make new mitochondria and to repair existing mitochondria. Low levels of damaged mitochondria means low levels of ATP, leading to poor performance and recovery. Not good.
Currently, 57% of the US population is not getting the US RDA of magnesium. While that number is already alarmingly high, keep in mind that the RDA is an outdated and generally poor reference range established in the mid 1900’s. These recommendations are enough to maintain a slight margin of safety, barely above sickness and disease in an average unhealthy American. While we can all agree that we don’t want to be sick and dying, we can also agree that we want to perform and live as optimally as possible. The percentage of magnesium deficient Americans would be much higher than 57% among athletes and individuals seeking peak performance with much higher ATP needs than the average sedentary person seeking to avoid disease.
Common food sources of magnesium include dark leafy greens, some nuts, oats, wheat and beans. While eating copious amounts of dark leafy greens and some nuts may be enough for the average sedentary American, it may not be enough for athletes doing CrossFit or similar high intensity activity. So what should you do? Supplement.
Take magnesium after your workouts or before bedtime. Most people who take it before bedtime experience deeper and more restful sleep, which is another way for your body to recover from a hard workout.
We sell Pure Pharma brand magnesium at CrossFit Thumos. If you’re interested in learning more, talk to Trevor, or pick up a bottle and experience for yourself the benefits.