We’ve been talking about magnesium as the fitness mineral. In our last post, we shared how magnesium is essential for energy – at a cellular level. Today, we’re talking about magnesium for a very specific type of muscle soreness: lactic acid pain.
Lactic acid is a normal byproduct of muscle metabolism. It’s the short-term burn you feel when you push your muscles past your comfort zone. Lactic acid peaks during exercise and can linger for up to about a day. If you exercise intensely or have chronic fatigue syndrome, you’ll feel the burn more than others.
HOW MAGNESIUM HELPS MINIMIZE EXERCISE-RELATED PAIN
“Magnesium allows the body to burn fuel and create energy in an efficient cycle during exercise that does not lead to lactic acid production and buildup” (The Magnesium Miracle, Kindle version page 2115). Magnesium, in effect, neutralizes lactic acid.
Other forms of exercise-related pain get downgraded by magnesium, too. Magnesium prevents post-exercise cramps and pain (page 2122), and indirectly relieves pressure on nerves that would otherwise be compressed by tense muscles.
How does it work?
Magnesium regulates the process whereby muscles contract (via calcium) and then relax. Without magnesium, “muscle cells stimulated by too much calcium can go into uncontrollable spasm” (The Magnesium Miracle, Kindle version page 173). Think restless leg syndrome, charlie horses, and even heart attacks. Yes, heart attacks.
Sudden cardiac death among athletes in their prime is a related issue – and we’ll cover it off in a future post. For now, know that the less dramatic, but annoying issue of lactic acid buildup can be addressed with magnesium.
WHAT THIS MEANS FOR YOUR WORKOUT
If you’re feeling the burn, improve your magnesium profile. Here’s what you can do:
- Cut back on caffeine, alcohol, meat, sugar and sodium, which deplete magnesium;
- Reduce your total calcium intake from supplements, fortified foods and dairy;
- Increase your magnesium intake through whole grains, nuts, seeds and a highly absorbable magnesium supplement, like Natural Calm.
Intense lactic acid may be an early indicator of low magnesium. Address the issue now to prevent fatigue, lethargy, weakness, nausea, and other health risks linked to magnesium deficiency.
Stay tuned for our next post on why people who exercise need more magnesium. That’s right. By conservative estimates, working out increases your body’s magnesium demands by 10 – 20%!
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Carolyn Dean, MD, ND. The Magnesium Miracle (Updated and Revised).