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Dragging Through the Day? Be Sure You Get Enough Magnesium

By Rosalie Marion Bliss
May 5, 2004

If you find yourself huffing and puffing at the gym, you might need to get more magnesium in your diet. Inadequate magnesium is associated with a need for increased oxygen during exercise, according to scientists with the Agricultural Research Service.

The findings are based on a study conducted by ARS physiologist Henry C. Lukaski, nutritionist Forrest H. Nielsen and clinical nutrition support staff at the Grand Forks Human Nutrition Research Center, Grand Forks, N.D. ARS is the U.S. Department of Agriculture's chief scientific research agency.

The study began with a phase that provided 10 postmenopausal women with a controlled diet adequate in magnesium for 35 days. In the next phase, a low-magnesium diet provided them less than half the recommended daily intake for 93 days. The last phase provided a diet adequate in magnesium for 49 days. The volunteers were subjected to exercise tests at the end of each dietary phase, along with biochemical and physiological tests.

The data show that when magnesium levels were depleted, the volunteers needed more energy and more oxygen to do low-level activities than when they were getting adequate magnesium. The findings are consistent with other studies showing that too little magnesium makes the body work harder.

The researchers concluded that getting adequate magnesium is important for people to make sure their hearts and muscles are healthy enough to meet the demands of daily living. The recommended dietary allowance for magnesium is 320 milligrams (mg) daily for women over age 31, and 420 mg daily for men over age 31.

Read more about this research in the May issue of Agricultural Research magazine.