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Albion Research Notes Vol. 17, No. 3

Athletic Activity can Increase Demand for Minerals

The interest in the relationship between sports, exercise and mineral nutrition has been the subject of countless research studies, books, and consumer products for many years. Exercise can lead to an increased need for certain minerals in a couple of basic ways. Research has demonstrated that exercise can increase the rate of mineral loss via sweat and urine. In addition, exercise can increase the metabolic demand for certain minerals. The potential health hazard that can come from exercise induced mineral loss is further enhanced by the public’s record for not consuming adequate amounts of many essential minerals. Additional findings have shown that many athletes, and female athletes, in particular, consume diets that have been found to be woefully inadequate for certain key minerals. The combination of strenuous exercise and compromised mineral status ultimately leads to low endurance capacity, depressed immune function, and the development of a variety of disease conditions. Minerals, such as zinc, magnesium, copper, and iron are the minerals most often impacted in the course of exercise, with, as it turns magnesium and zinc being the most prominent. Calcium and chromium have been seen to be affected by exercise, but not to the degree as seen with the others mentioned.

Magnesium (Mg)

Magnesium is needed for well over 300 biochemical reactions in the human body, and it helps maintain muscle and nerve function, steady heart rhythm, supports the immune system, and maintains bone strength. Magnesium helps regulate blood sugar levels, normal blood pressure, as well as being involved in protein synthesis - all of this in addition to its critical role in energy production (according to the Office of Dietary Supplements, NIH).

No other mineral has been more highly linked to what the body needs most in exercise and sports performance than has magnesium. All energy for muscle contraction is derived from the hydrolysis of ATP.

Metabolic rates canbe 20 times higher during aerobic activity and up to 50 times higher during intense anaerobic activity. Magnesium is intimately linked to the metabolic cycle of ATP production and hydrolysis. There are three overlapping and mutually supportive energy systems that provide the ATP needed for exercise: 1)immediate, 2) nonoxidative (glycolytic), and 3) oxidative. Exercise type determines which energy system is most activated, as seen in Table 1.

Table 1. ATP physical activity table.