How’s Your Magnesium Level These Days?

Feeling fatigued on the hill despite intense pre-season training? Muscles cramping during or after a day on the slopes?

Magnesium deficiency may be the culprit.

Kale is a rich source of Magnesium. So is Spinach.  Popeye was right!
Kale is a rich source of Magnesium. So is Spinach. Popeye was right!

Magnesium, essential for normal muscular contraction and relaxation, is a key player in over 300 biochemical reactions in the body, including production of ATP, the main source of energy for our cells!

Without proper magnesium levels, muscle cramping and fatigue can result. Even slight magnesium deficiency can impair athletic performance and intensify post-workout soreness. Unfortunately, about half of the US population lacks adequate magnesium—with seniors especially affected.

Processed foods are devoid of potassium and magnesium, and magnesium rich foods like dark green vegetables generally are seen (and consumed) as a side dish.

Stomach acid is an important factor in absorption of nutrients, including magnesium. But stomach acid declines with age, often resulting in reduced magnesium absorption, a process further complicated by heartburn reduction drugs like Nexium and Prevacid.

We also lose magnesium as we age because of increased excretion by the kidneys, something compounded by regular use of diuretics (e.g. Lasix or hydrochlorothiazide), prescribed for high blood pressure. Alcohol consumption doubles the rate of magnesium excretion as well.

Here’s how to improve your magnesium intake.

  • Eat green leafy vegetables at least twice a day. These include foods like kale, spinach, chard, beet greens, mustard greens, and collard greens. Enjoy them raw and lightly cooked (magnesium is lost through boiling). Check out the SeniorsSkiing Mega Magnesium Smoothie recipe below.
  • Munch hemp seeds, a great source of magnesium! They’re low in a substance found in other magnesium-rich nuts and legumes that inhibits intestinal absorption.
  • Reduce reliance on acid blocking meds by identifying food sensitivities causing heartburn. This is best accomplished under the guidance of a physician or nutritionist.
  • Limit intake of diuretic drinks (e.g. alcohol, coffee,) or counterbalance their influence with more green leafy vegetables.
Magnesium-up your diet makes sense as you age. Credit: Vega-licious.com
Magnesium-up your diet makes sense as you age.
Credit: Vega-licious.com

 

If you follow those simple steps and still cramp on the mountain, consider supplemental magnesium. Magnesium chloride, magnesium citrate, and magnesium lactate are the types that absorb best. Dosages vary between 200 – 600 mg per day, depending on gender, age and health. People with kidney disease and those using bisphosphonates (e.g. Fosamax and Boniva) should use caution with supplemental magnesium. Consult first with a health professional experienced in nutraceuticals.

That said, magnesium pills are safer than the average over-the-counter NSAID, and a popular magnesium drink mix called Calm (available at natural food stores) can help with muscle cramping and soreness.

Once your body’s magnesium stores are replenished, you may find yourself getting the most use out of that season’s pass in years!

Recipe: SeniorsSkiing Mega Magnesium Smoothie

Try using organic ingredients, as they contain higher mineral content

1.5 cups milk of your choice (regular milk, hemp milk, soy milk, rice milk, coconut milk)

2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder (a great source of magnesium!)

1 banana

1 cup kale, spinach, or chard

2 teaspoons hemp seeds

Blend and enjoy!

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