Can you use Magnesium for Muscle Pain? Magnesium is an essential nutrient in the human body, which can provide many health benefits, including supporting healthy muscle function. This mineral also helps in relaxing the muscles after a challenging exercise.

Research (Zhang, 2017) has also shown that proper magnesium levels in the blood can help in improving exercise performance. This increase in performance is mainly due to an increase in strength and power. This mineral can also improve rotation, flexion, jumping, and tension. 

This research shows other various health benefits of magnesium as well. According to this research, taking magnesium supplements can improve chair stand time and gait speed in older women. Thus, getting a proper amount of magnesium is also important for daily routine work. 

Another significant benefit of magnesium is its effects on other nutrients. For example, magnesium activates Vitamin D. the low levels of vitamin D can result in muscle weakness and pain. If this low level is not treated, muscle mass can decline with the athlete’s performance. In this way, a proper magnesium level supports other healthier levels of nutrients. 

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magnesium foods

Role Of Magnesium In Muscle Performance and Function

Magnesium influences muscle performance by participating in energy metabolism and maintaining muscle contraction and relaxation.

This mineral works as a cofactor for 30 enzymes, which play an important role in the structure and function of the human body. So this mineral also takes part in energy production, synthesis of DNA, nerve function, facilitating cellular signaling, and structural role in bones and cells.

Although maintaining a magnesium level is essential for everyone, athletes or other people with high physical activity may need this mineral In a higher amount. Further studies in individual training programs have found that decreased magnesium levels result in decreased endurance. At the same time, a higher level of magnesium is associated with improved cardiorespiratory fitness during aerobic exercise.

Moreover, magnesium has also been shown to have an antioxidant effect and help reduce oxidative stress, which can cause muscle fatigue. Magnesium also plays an important role in mitochondrial energy production as one-third of the cellular magnesium is found within mitochondria. Therefore magnesium is very important for essential mitochondrial functions like the production of ATP and plays a protective role in skeletal muscle mitochondria.

Furthermore, inflammation is a major risk factor for reducing muscle performance. And poor magnesium levels can increase these inflammatory states. On the other hand, magnesium intake has been found to reduce systemic inflammation, which results in improved muscle function.

Which Type Of Magnesium Is Best For Muscles?

The magnesium you take for your muscles depends upon two things:

  • Diet
  • Supplements

No matter which source you are using for the intake of magnesium, it is important to know that many different forms of magnesium are used for muscle pain and muscle spasms. Each one of these forms has different functions and affects the body differently. For example, some forms are in spray forms which are easier for the body to absorb.

1. Magnesium Chloride:

This is one of the most common forms of magnesium used for muscle spasms. It is extracted from the natural sources present within rock or saltwater. Most magnesium products are made up of pure magnesium chloride from the earth’s crust. Moreover, studies (Butt, 2008) have shown that magnesium chloride can relax rock oysters.

Magnesium chloride is very effective for muscle spasms as it can help in relieving muscle tension, stiffness, and tightness. It also increases muscle recovery after a high-intensity workout. Magnesium chloride can increase the absorption of calcium in the bones as well.

Not only this, but magnesium chloride can provide other benefits as well:

  • Aids digestion
  • Have the best bioavailability
  • Improves sleep quality
  • Repairs skin quicker

2. Magnesium sulfate

Magnesium sulfate, also known as Epsom salts, consists of magnesium, oxygen, and sulfur. Like magnesium chloride, it can also be taken through the skin or orally. Most people like to dissolve it in a hot bath or foot soak. But magnesium sulfate has a lower concentration of magnesium, therefore, has lower bioavailability than magnesium chloride.

Magnesium sulfate is also well-known due to its analgesic properties, which help in soothing sore muscles and reducing muscle spasms. According to a study  (KIZILIRMAK, 1997), magnesium can be very helpful in reducing the body’s natural shiver response after anesthesia, as it relaxes the muscles.

Magnesium sulfate or Epsom salt is also beneficial in exerting toxins through pores. Moreover, it also has a laxative effect, which helps in relieving constipation

3. Magnesium Malate:

Magnesium malate is made by mixing malic acid with magnesium. This malic acid is naturally found within fruits like oranges. Malic acid and magnesium, when combined, make a salt that has higher bioavailability than all other forms of magnesium, such as magnesium sulfate and magnesium oxide.

Magnesium malate can reduce muscle pain by relaxing the tense areas of muscles. Moreover, it supports hundreds of enzymes present within the human body. And also involved in producing and using energy by the cells.

Magnesium and Muscle Contraction

Magnesium also plays an important role in muscle contraction; for example, magnesium works as a natural calcium blocker that relaxes the muscle in the heart. Calcium can bind to a protein like a troponin C and myosin, which changes the shape of these proteins and generates contraction.

 Magnesium competes with calcium for the same binding spots and relaxes the muscles. Moreover, studies (D L Bilbey, 1996), have shown that If the level of magnesium is reduced within the body, and there is not enough magnesium to compete with calcium, then it may result in too much muscle contraction, which causes muscle cramps or spasms.

For this reason, magnesium is recommended for patients suffering from muscle cramps or pain.

Magnesium for Exercise Performance

The human body needs more magnesium during activity or exercise compared to the resting state because this magnesium helps move blood sugar into the muscles and dispose of lactate which builds up during exercise and may result in fatigue.

Studies have also shown that magnesium supplements can be very beneficial for improving exercise performance in older adults and those with a deficiency in nutrients. For example, one study of 2,570 women (Welch, 2015), found out that a higher intake of magnesium can increase muscle mass and power.

Another older study (Setaro, 2013), of volleyball players found out that the player who consumed 250mg of magnesium every day experienced an improvement in jumping and arm movement compared to the control group.

Magnesium supplements are also available in the market, protecting muscles from damage. According to studies, these magnesium supplements can be beneficial for professional cyclists as well in reducing muscle damage.

Other Health Benefits of Magnesium

Magnesium has numerous health benefits for muscles, reducing muscle tension and stiffness and preventing spasms and pain. But there are other benefits of magnesium as well.

Reduce Depression: Magnesium is important in improving brain function and mood. The deficiency of this mineral can increase the risk of depression.

According to one study of 8,800 people,(Tarleton, 2015), the people with the lowest magnesium intake have a 22% greater risk of depression.

But taking magnesium supplements can reduce the risk of depression. One small study has shown that taking 500mg of magnesium daily can lead to significant improvement in symptoms of depression.

Maintain Healthy Sugar Levels: studies have shown that 48% of diabetic patients have a low blood level of magnesium, which may reduce the ability of the body to regulate blood sugar levels.

So, consuming more magnesium can lower the risk of type 2 diabetes. According to a recent study, (Simental-Mendía, 2016)magnesium supplements can increase insulin sensitivity, which is a critical factor in blood sugar control. But these effects depend upon the dietary source of magnesium.

Promotes Heart Health: Magnesium also plays an important role in keeping the heart healthy and strong. Magnesium supplements can also help lower blood pressure, a major risk factor for heart diseases.

According to one review, magnesium supplements can reduce the various risk factors of heart diseases, including blood pressure, triglyceride levels, and cholesterol levels, especially in those with magnesium deficiency.

Anti-inflammatory Properties: Low magnesium intake is linked with increased inflammation, which plays a key role in various chronic diseases and aging.

This deficiency can also lead to oxidative stress, which increases inflammation. Magnesium supplements have been found to reduce inflammation markers such as interleukin-6 and CRP.

For example, one review of 11 studies(Simental-Mendia, 2017) has found that magnesium supplements can decrease the level of C-reactive protein, an inflammation marker in people suffering from chronic diseases.

Prevents Migraine Attacks: Migraine headaches can be very painful and have some other symptoms like vomiting, nausea, and sensitivity to light.

Some researchers have found that people with migraines are more likely to have a magnesium deficiency. According to one study, (Shahrami, 2014), people who take supplements of 1 gram of magnesium daily provide relief from migraine attacks more quickly than those who take common medication.

Increase Bone Health: Magnesium is beneficial for bones and can protect against bone loss because 50-60% of the magnesium in the human body is found in the bones.

Some studies have also shown that people with a lower magnesium level have a higher risk of osteoporosis.\ For example, one study of 358 people(Hori, 2021), found that people who consumed a lower amount of magnesium experienced three times more fractures than those with a higher magnesium intake.

Dietary Sources of Magnesium

Only a few people meet the daily recommended value of magnesium, which is 400-420 mg for men and 10-320 mg for women. This recommended amount of magnesium can also be fulfilled with some delicious foods.

  • Pumpkin Seeds: 16 grams of pumpkin seeds can provide 46% RDI of magnesium
  • Flaxseeds:1 ounce of flaxseeds provides 27% of RDI of magnesium
  • Spinach: 1 cup of boiled spinach can provide 39% of RDI of magnesium
  • Swiss Chard: 1 cup of boiled swiss chard can provide 38% of RDI of magnesium
  • Black Beans: 1 cup of black beans provide 30% of RDI of magnesium
  • Beet Greens: 1 cup of boiled beet greens provide 24% of RDI of magnesium
  • Almonds: 1 ounce of almond provides 20% of RDI of magnesium
  • Avocados: 1 medium avocado can provide 15% RDI of magnesium
  • Cashew: 28 grams of cashew can provide 20% RDI of magnesium

These foods not only provide a high amount of magnesium but are also a rich source of other vitamins and antioxidants. Which provides a lot of health benefits to the body and reduces the risk of various diseases.

Magnesium Supplementation

If you cannot meet your recommended value through foods alone, you can consider taking supplements that are widely available and well-tolerated. Many forms of magnesium supplements present in the market are used for different purposes, some common magnesium supplements are:

  • Magnesium Glycinate
  • Magnesium gluconate
  • Magnesium citrate

But there are a few guidelines for these magnesium supplements which should be followed. First, stay away from the products which provide a higher dosage of magnesium, higher than the recommended one. According to ODS, magnesium supplements shouldn’t exceed 350 mg. Taking more than this can increase the risk of diarrhea, nausea, and abdominal issues.

Moreover, consult with your doctor before taking magnesium supplements if you are taking other medication. This will ensure you that these supplements won’t interfere with other medications. Your doctor may also suggest how much magnesium you should take.

Bottom Line:

Magnesium is a mineral present within the human body, which takes part in many important functions of the body. This mineral is also very beneficial for muscle performance and function. Various studies have shown the effectiveness of magnesium in reducing muscle spasms and muscle pain.

A low amount of magnesium in the body can result in various health conditions, affecting some major functions of the body, like the heart and muscle. So, it’s important to get the recommended amount of magnesium. Dietary food items like avocados, almonds, flaxseeds, spinach, cashew, and pumpkin seeds are excellent sources of magnesium. But if you are not getting enough magnesium through the food, you can also consider taking supplements.

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