Magnesium: Why You Need It for Better Performance

Healthy breakfast, porridge with banana, berries and cashew

Magnesium is probably one of the first minerals that comes to mind when you think of fitness. But, hardly anyone knows how essential magnesium truly is and how it can improve your physical performance. We have the facts for you!

Athletic man stretching his leg after his running session.

Magnesium performs numerous functions

Magnesium is a vital mineral: it is present in nearly every cell of your body. Approximately 30 % of the magnesium in your body is stored in the muscles. The mineral performs numerous functions: it is needed for aerobic (= with oxygen) and anaerobic (= without oxygen) energy production. Magnesium is also required to form endogenous protein (protein of body origin, rather than dietary origin) and plays an important role in muscle contraction and relaxation. The mineral is also essential to the formation of bone and teeth. In addition, it is involved in the activation of hundreds of enzymes.

Athletic woman drinking out of her water bottle.

How important is magnesium for athletes?

Numerous studies have shown that even a slight magnesium deficiency can impair athletic performance. This means that you can improve your performance by ensuring an adequate supply of this important mineral. What happens in your body? According to studies, magnesium appears to lower lactate levels in your blood. Lactate (lactic acid) is a metabolite that is primarily produced by intense physical exercise. If it builds up, it can limit muscle performance and you will fatigue faster. Plus, exercising without sufficient magnesium will lead to increased oxygen consumption and heart rate. The mineral also plays a major role in strengthening your immune system. It works similar to an antioxidant by strengthening your defenses and protecting you from diseases.


Magnesium has been shown to lower lactate levels in your blood.

Sunflower seeds on a wooden table.

Increased consumption can be helpful

Healthy adults should get 300-350 mg of magnesium per day. A balanced diet is usually enough to satisfy this daily requirement. But, if you like to exercise or work a physically demanding job, your diet probably won’t cover your daily needs because you lose a lot of magnesium through sweat. This loss has to be replaced: you also need to consume more magnesium in the case of diarrhea or stress. Studies have shown that people who suffer from a magnesium deficiency can improve their physical performance by increasing their magnesium intake.

Did you know?

You lose a lot of magnesium through sweat.

However, if you take too much (for example, through a dietary supplement), this can lead to stomach and intestinal issues. Therefore, you should pay attention to how much you are getting per day.

Baby spinach in a bowl.

These foods are good sources of magnesium

Many runners consider bananas to be the top source of magnesium. But, there are many other foods that have as much or even more magnesium than the yellow fruit. Here are the 11 best sources of magnesium:

  • Wheat bran
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Sesame
  • Amaranth
  • Cashews
  • White kidney beans
  • Chickpeas
  • Oats
  • Baby spinach
  • Whole grain products

As you can see, nuts and seeds are packed with magnesium, but don’t forget that these foods groups are high in fat and thus contain many calories.

Mineral water also contains varying amounts of magnesium. You can find the nutrition facts on the label of the bottle.



Julia Denner As a dietitian, Julia wants to inspire others to eat a healthy and balanced diet. She loves cooking, being outdoors, and does yoga and strength training to relax. View all posts by Julia Denner »