Magnesium shortfalls affect 80 percent of adults, but the nutrient is key for energy production, muscle strength, and bone health. Here’s how to get more
It’s tempting to write off fatigue or painful muscle spasms as the side effects of a particularly grueling workout or a tough training schedule. But in fact, these are common red flags of magnesium deficiency, which affects as many as 80 percent of adults in the U.S., says Carolyn Dean, M.D., N.D., author of The Magnesium Miracle. Fitness addicts are even more at risk of developing a shortfall, since you lose the nutrient via sweat. And that’s a problem, since magnesium helps usher ache-inducing lactate out of your muscles post-workout, boosts energy levels, busts stress, protects the heart, and builds bone strength. So we asked Dean how to get more of this powerhouse nutrient.
Pamper Your Tootsies
Next time leg day leaves your bottom half feeling sore and achy, add ½ cup of Epsom salts to a big bucket of warm water and soak your feet for about half an hour, suggests Dean. Magnesium from the salts will be absorbed through your skin, easing calf cramps and calming your mood. (This same trick can help you Relieve Foot Pain After a Night of High Heels too.) Magnesium gels, found in health food stores, can also boost your levels while soothing your muscles. But chronic use can irritate your skin, Dean warns.
Guzzle More Green Juice
Dean says that modern soil contains less magnesium than it once did, which means our food does as well—but it’s still possible to boost your intake through diet. Top sources include dark, leafy greens, nuts and seeds, seaweed, and dark cacao chocolate. Aim to eat five servings a day. If this seems like a lot, make it easier by adding a few extra handfuls of spinach and some dark cacao powder to your next green juice. (Try this Energizing Green Juice Recipe.)
The recommended intake for magnesium for women is 310 to 320 mg (350 mg if you’re pregnant), but research shows that fit women may need 10 to 20 percent more to make up for what they lose via sweat. Try supplementing with a pill that contains magnesium citrate, the most easily absorbed form, like GNC Super Magnesium 400 mg ($15; gnc.com). But many women find that taking a single, larger dose like this upsets their stomach. If that’s the case, Dean suggests opting for a powdered form of magnesium citrate. Add the recommended daily dose to a water bottle, and sip slowly throughout the day. (We Asked the Diet Doctor: What Other Vitamins Should I Take?)