Sleep, and Why It Matters!

Sleep, and Why It Matters!

It’s amazing how even the fittest, healthiest people who eat well and make the effort to work out can neglect their sleep needs.

Busy people often cut back on sleep when under pressure – failing to realise sleep issues can lead to long term health problems such as an increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, obesity and even dementia, as well as short term drowsiness and tiredness.

But there are more subtle effects too – including the effects on higher executive function –  the higher level cognitive skills you need for planning, problem-solving and working memory. This can lead you to being under par at work. Sleep deprivation can also affect your self-control, emotions and decision-making.

Why sleep quality matters too

It’s not just sleep quantity that matters – but sleep quality too. If you suffer from obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) – where your airways momentarily collapse for a few seconds several times a minute, depriving you of oxygen while you sleep – you might not even be aware of it, but it’s interfering with your body’s metabolic processes. This can raise your blood sugar and blood pressure and lead to weight gain, heart disease and diabetes.

If you snore and suffer daytime sleepiness you could have undiagnosed OSA, so it’s important to get tested and treated. Other risk factors for sleep apnoea include being overweight, having a thick neck, smoking and having a large tongue or large tonsils or adenoids.

Why your body needs sleep

We spend a third of our life asleep, but don’t think of it as time wasted.  When you’re sleeping your blood pressure drops, breathing slows down and the body goes to work on  repairing and rebuilding tissue. Sleep is also the time when hormones are released which are essential for growth and muscle development and the regulation of ghrelin and leptin,  the “hunger” hormones which control appetite (sleep deprived people tend to eat more and gain weight). Cerebral spinal fluid is pumped more quickly throughout the brain during sleep, washing  out  waste so you wake up mentally refreshed.

How much sleep  do you actually need?

Mrs Thatcher famously got by on three hours sleep a night but most of us need a lot more  than that. After a two year study, the US National Sleep Foundation revised its recommendations in 2015 as to how many hours we need per night, as follows:

  • school age kids (six to 13): 10 to 13 hours;
  • teens (14 to 17): eight to 10 hours;
  • adults (18 to 64): seven to nine hours;
  • older adults (over 65): seven to eight hours.

What about power naps?

A short day time nap of under 40 minutes can refresh you – but nap for any longer and you may be raising your risk of metabolic syndrome, the medical name for a number of symptoms that can lead to heart disease including high blood pressure, excess fat around your middle and high blood sugar and cholesterol, according to new research from the University of Tokyo.

How to sleep better

Unfortunately, insomnia, difficulty getting to sleep or staying asleep long enough to feel refreshed, affects one in three people.

But there are some simple ways to sleep better including:

  • Sticking to a set time for bedtime and getting up – even at weekends and on holiday.
  • Keeping your bedroom cool and dark with no light pollution, a comfortable mattress and pillows.
  • Practising a winding-down routine with a warm bath, relaxing music and a milky drink before bedtime.
  • Saving worrying for daylight hours. Write down what’s worrying you and block it out when you’re in bed.
  • Avoiding heavy meals, too much alcohol and smoking for two to three hours before bedtime.
  • Getting treatment for medical conditions that wake you at night including joint pain, restless legs syndrome, cramps and nocturnal trips to the loo.

Why You Need To Stay Hydrated

Why You Need To Stay Hydrated

If you’re a runner or gym bunny it’s probably already on your radar that you need to keep your fluid levels topped up before, during and after exercise, but even the most sedentary of office workers need to take care to keep hydrated, too.

Dehydration is a growing problem

Surprisingly, despite our cool and wet climate, dehydration is a growing problem in the UK; a survey by the National Hydration Council revealed dehydration was the cause of tiredness and fatigue in one in 10 GP consultations for the complaint. And hospital admissions for dehydration rose by 57 per cent between 2003 and 2013/14.

Dehydration and exercise

Research has found it’s not uncommon for athletes to lose six to 10 per cent of their body weight due to water loss during strenuous events. But even being as little as two per cent dehydrated can affect performance. Visit the Amplify Shop for a great range of hydration products you can take on board whilst training.

Athletes are especially vulnerable to dehydration at the beginning of a new season when they are not acclimatised to changing weather conditions or sudden increases in activity levels.

How much do you need to drink?

Drinking enough fluids is something most of us don’t think about enough especially when we’re busy. We rely on our thirst sensation to prompt us to top-up but experts warn this is unreliable because by the time we feel thirsty we’re already dehydrated.

Official guidelines from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) recommends an intake of 2.5 litres of water (fluid) for men and 2.0 litres of fluid for women per day, via food and drink. EFSA says of this 2.5 or 2 litres a day, 70 to 80 per cent should come from drinks, and the rest from food.

Obviously, there are lots of variables – if you exercise, you’re advised to drink extra fluids, for example, a large glass of water (200ml) for every 45 minutes of exercise as a rough guide. You may need to drink more if you’re working out in hot weather though and the extra intake you may need will depend on your body size and how intensely you exercise.

If you’re pregnant you need to drink an extra 0.3 litres of water a day and 0.7 litres more a day is you are breastfeeding – on top of the normal 2 litres a day recommended.

Does it matter what you drink? 

The short answer is not really… Water is the healthiest option as it is calorie and fat-free, but tea and coffee are okay as well but bear in mind they can have a mild diuretic effect and make you pass more urine if you drink a lot of them. Alcohol has a dehydrating effect too, so it you are on a boozy night out, try to drink water between refills.

How do you know you are dehydrated?

Water makes up for 75 per cent of our body weight and performs several vital functions in the body including carrying nutrients and waste products, controlling body temperature, lubricating moving parts and acting as a shock absorber for joints. It also makes up 73 per cent of the brain.

This is why the symptoms of being dehydrated are quite literally felt throughout the body and include headaches, concentration problems, tiredness , dry eyes, constipation, greater susceptibility to urinary tract infections such as cystitis and kidney stones, as well as migraines.

Severe symptoms

More severe symptoms include a rapid heartbeat, low blood pressure, not passing urine for eight hours, feeling tired or confused, a weak pulse , sunken eyes, semi-consciousness, dry skin which sags slowly back into position when pinched, cold hands and feet and seizures. These symptoms need urgent medical attention, usually rehydration on an IV drip in hospital.

10 Reasons to Walk 10,000 Steps A Day

10 Reasons to Walk 10,000 Steps A Day

Walking 10,000 steps (approximately five miles) a day has proven health benefits, is free and can be done at any time by most people whatever their shape, size, or age. It’s a sure way to get you from from couch to active! Here are 10 reasons to get those boots on… and get walking! By Jo Waters.

1. You’ll live longer. Research published in 2015 found walking just 15 minutes a day could help people over 60 live longer – cutting their risk of dying by 22 per cent compared with those in the same age group  who did no exercise – so even short bursts of walking are better than none.

2. Weight loss/maintenance: A 45 year-old weighing 70kg (11 stone) will burn 440 calories by walking 10,000  steps a day. Walking two miles (3.2km) a day four times a week can help reduce weight by 1lb a month.

3. Builds joint strength: Even if you have osteoarthritis (the wear-and-tear kind) you shouldn’t stop walking as research studies have confirmed regular walking strengthens the muscles supporting joints, reducing pain and prolonging the time until a hip or knee replacement may be needed.

4. Cuts your risk factors for heart disease: Brisk walking will cut your blood pressure, help boost levels of ‘good’ HDL cholesterol, as well as helping to reduce your weight.

5. Helps prevent cancer recurrence: Research has shown regular walking and can reduce the risk of recurrence of cancer by 50 per cent in colorectal cancer survivors and up to 40 per cent in breast cancer survivors.

6. Relieves stress and prevents depression: Regular exercise releases the body’s natural painkillers – endorphins – and reduces the risk of becoming depressed by 30 per cent.

7. Reduces your risk of developing type 2 diabetes: Walking helps lower your blood sugar and your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

8. Cuts your dementia risk: A study by the University of Pittsburgh reported walking six miles a week protects brain size and preserves memory.

9. Helps you get your dose of Vitamin D. Walking to and from work or taking the kids to school, nipping out in the middle of the day for a 20 minute trot? You’ll also benefit from the sunshine and absorb some vitamin D the natural way.

10. It helps you sleep. Moderate intensity exercise, including walking, boosts the effect of natural sleep hormones such as melatonin. A 2003 US study looking at post-menopausal women and sleeping patterns, compared two groups for a year and found the walkers suffered less sleep issues than those who were in active.

May is National Walking Month. Find out more here: https://www.livingstreets.org.uk/what-you-can-do/campaigns/national-walking-month-2016

7 Ways to Eat Yourself Young

7 Ways to Eat Yourself Young

Expert sports nutritionist Lucy Ann Prideaux has the low down on anti-ageing eating.

  1. Keep it simple Caring for the body comes down to three things – breakfast, lunch and dinner. If you think I’m being rather simplistic here, you’re right, I am. Eating a good diet is simple. In fact, it is the easiest and simplest thing in the world. You can either eat and drink your way to disease, or eat your way to health and wellness. It is your choice. Prepare simple meals using plenty of fresh, colourful, natural foods, and you can’t go far wrong.
  2.  Drink green tea Green tea is full of health-producing, disease-reducing and anti-ageing antioxidants. A cup of green tea provides plenty of natural plant chemicals called polyphenols. Their high anti-oxidant activity protects the body from damaging free radicals (rogue molecules), which can accelerate the ageing process, both inside the body and outside. A daily cup or two of green tea is a great way to get a good dose of helpful antioxidants.
  3.  Eat berries Berries are also full of anti-ageing antioxidants, and disease-fighting vitamin C. They will help provide your body with a powerful arsenal against ageing by flooding your system with vital nutrients. 
  4. Eat like a bird Nuts and seeds are some of the richest sources of many essential fats from the omega-3, omega-6, and omega-9 family of fatty acids. Essential fats are pivotal to the health of the brain, body, hair and skin. The oils from almonds, walnuts and flaxseeds for example can help to alleviate dry skin, reduce inflammation in the body, help control cholesterol levels, and regenerate cells. Nuts and seeds also contain important protein for cellular regeneration, and fibre for colon health.
  5. Opt for healthy fats Healthy superfood fat comes from food such as avocado and olives. Rich in healthy oil for glowing skin, fibre and plant sterols to help control cholesterol, avocado also boasts alkalising minerals such as potassium, and the anti-ageing and protective nutrient vitamin A. Olives and olive oil are particular signatures of the Mediterranean diet, renowned for it’s ability to prevent heart disease and cancer, and promote life longevity.
  6. Eat an apple a day (it keeps the doctor away) One of the most accessible and healthy fruits happens to be the apple. Apples have excellent free-radical scavenging properties, helping to keep you from going ‘rusty’ on the inside. Apple pectin is the main fibre present in this wonder food, perfect for sound intestinal health.
  7. Choose the right colours Green, red, pink and orange are all good natural food choices. Spinach, kale, watercress, broccoli, tomatoes, pink grapefruit and watermelon contain lutein and lycopene, powerful antioxidants that will help keep your eyes looking clear and youthful and help protect against a common eye disease called age-related macular degeneration. Pumpkin and other squash such as butternut, onion or acorn and sweet potato are loaded with minerals and phytonutrients such as beta-carotene, as well as vitamin C that nourish the skin, and keep the insides glowing, too.

 

7 Ways to Think Like An Athlete


We admire athletes for their focused approach to performance. They tap into discipline, strength and positive thinking and get results. Think like an athlete and perform better at sport – and in life!

 

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  1. Think big. Be limitless in your thought process. In a special article for the New England Journal of Medicine, the authors reveal that the more ambitious the weight loss goal, the bigger the success!
    However, it also makes sense to start small, and remember the phrase, ‘every journey starts with a single step’. The moment you make a commitment to getting started is when things start to happen.
  2. Be mindful. In the run up to Wimbledon 2013, it was widely reported how tennis player Novak Djokovic practised both mindfulness and meditation, paying regular visits to a Buddhist temple in London. Mindfulness is a method of focusing on the current moment through activities such as meditation, yoga and breathing.A 10-year study of mindfulness in sport suggested that mindfulness is effective because it helps athletes focus without distraction. “I have to really focus on the job in hand,” Jessica Ennis told Women’s Fitness. “If your mind wanders, you don’t get the most out of the session,” she added.
  3. Endure the pain. “That’s the closest I will come to knowing what it’s like to have a baby,” said Sir Bradley Wiggins when he broke the world record for distance cycled in an hour in the summer of 2015.Don’t get comfortable! Athletes are happy to put up with pain and a review from 2012 revealed that they have a higher pain threshold than the average. Push out of your comfort zone and keep in mind the phrase made famous by Susan Jeffers’ book: Feel The Fear and Do It Anyway.
  4. Have a vision. Visualise and rehearse in your mind your best performance. In the film Rush, there’s a scene when world champion racing driver, James Hunt, drives the entire course in his mind, holding his steering wheel and talking through each and every twist and turn. Visualising your success, your race, a slimmer healthier you in action gets results.
  5. Believe in yourself. A study in the Journal of Applied Sport Psychology aimed to examine what mental toughness was all about. They found of the 12 attributes that define mental toughness an “unshakable self-belief in your ability to achieve your competition goals” emerged as the most important.
  6. Repeat a mantra. Positive self-talk works. Researchers have shown that using simple positive phrases, such as “I can” or “ball-target” help with both power-based and more precision-based skills according to the British Psychological Society.
  7. Celebrate success. Mo has the ‘Mobot’ and Usain Bolt has the ‘lightening’. It’s vital to celebrate your success as it confirms that all the work and commitment was worth it – so bask in your glory.

 

Be the best you can be NOW

Stay in the moment, take small steps and make minor daily adjustments to exercise and your life, and you can be your fittest you, today – and every day. Fiona Bugler shows you six ways to be a better you…

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  1. Find the right time for your training. For those lifting weights you’ll have more power in the evening, and to burn fat, it’s great to train in the morning. Work out before you eat (i.e. in a fasted state) and there will be a small increase in the amount of fat you burn. That’s because blood sugar, insulin and glycogen levels are all lower than normal after an overnight fast. And when it comes to morning training, it’s just great to get it done!
  2. Positive self-talk. The ‘psychobiological’ model says that the brain has as big an influence on how hard, and how long you can train, as your physiological state.Scientists at the University of Kent put the theory to the test when they examined a small sample of healthy adults and got them to cycle to exhaustion, repeatedly. They took all the relevant measurements then sent the group away for two weeks, with one half the group being told to talk to themselves in training, with phrases such as ‘You’re doing well’. Two weeks later this group cycled for longer and it felt easier than before, whereas the other group remained the same.
  3. Smile when you train. Smiling when you run can help to release tension in the neck and shoulders, and relieve stress, and doing this can mean you’ll perform better in training, and subsequently get fitter – and don’t just grin, smile big! A study from 2010 analysed baseball cards from 1952 and found that the players with the biggest, widest smiles, lived longer, happier, more successful lives. Find you’re more likely to grimace than smile? Dance, play, do an obstacle race, train with friends – have fun! Studies show simple things like good music can make a difference to how enjoyable exercise is and are more likely to keep you smiling.
  4. Train with your friends. It’s much more motivating to train with friends, as well as being more fun, training with others means you’re more accountable and studies have found that group training is associated with adherence. Work together, try something new each month, and mix up your plans so that you can all play on your strengths and develop your weaker areas.
  5. Get a gadget and record your progress. From heart rate monitors, to lifestyle gadgets that record your steps, your eating, your sleep hours, there’s now no excuse not to keep track of where you’re going and keep your fitness in mind all day long. Research shows that tracking what you do gets results.
  6. Breathe, stretch, relax… A total body approach to your fitness training will mean you get results quicker. If you’ve trained hard set aside time to release the muscles you’ve worked. As well as stretching, iron out the fascia (a web-like tissue beneath your skin) with a foam roller, a physio ‘stick’ or another ‘myofascial’ release tool. Take 10 minutes at the end of the day to breathe deeply, and meditate so you can tune into your body and ‘listen’ to how it’s responding to the exercise you’re putting it through.

Marathon – Tapering & amp; amp; Race Fuel

Marathon – Tapering & amp; amp; Race Fuel

As we approach the tail end of your preparation for the marathon, and are gearing up for the big day, here are a few nutritional tips that will give you the confidence to complete the race with a smile on your face.


Eat more carbs – but not more calories

The goal for carbohydrates should be to maintain a daily intake of 3-5 grams per pound of body weight (6-10 g/kg).

So if you weigh 9 stone, that’s up to 630g, which is up to 2500 calories.

You’ll also need protein and fresh/fruit and veg, and you’ll be doing less miles, so don’t be surprised if you put on a few pounds over the next few weeks. Don’t worry – you will burn it off!


Snack well

Fill your fridge with healthy snacks, so when you do get a pang of hunger you can fill up guilt-free and get the reward of taking in your five to 10 a day. Try carrots, celery and humus or tomato salsa dip, fresh fruit slices and cubes of feta cheese (eaten with oat cakes or rice cakes).

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For on the go nutrition keep topped up with tasty Clif Bars, made with wholesome ingredients that deliver on energy – and taste.


Stay hydrated

As well as drinking lots of water, throughout the day, an antioxidant-rich smoothie or juice (made with dark berries and vitamin rich fruit) is the multi-tasker’s way to fill up.

Coconut water is a great alternative fruit blast, and Chi 100% Pure Coconut Water is packed with electrolytes, is fat free and has the lowest natural sugar and calories of all brands. (It does help that a portion of all proceeds go to the One Seed One Life Charity, supplying orphanages across Thailand with basic supplies.)


Beetroot for endurance

Add beetroot to salad, smoothies, or check out a pre-made beetroot juice. If you cannot stomach the taste, a supplement can be a replacement, such as BioCare’s Beetroot Extract.

Beetroot has been extensively shown to help boost endurance because it boosts nitrate levels in the blood, which can lower blood pressure and reduce oxygen consumption during moderate running.


Race day nutrition 

You need to try anything you take during the race  before you race!

Before you get to the start line, consume a 500ml carb drink with electrolytes, and on the run, you’ll need gels/blocks and drinks.  You’ll need between 100 and 150 calories of carbs every hour of the marathon (but check the pack as it will vary according to your weight and the conditions).

Clif Bar Block Shots are easy to digest, but you will need to consume quite a number to keep topped up (around three and hour). Gels, such as High 5 Energy Gel can be thick and gooey, or a lighter consistency. If you opt for a thicker, gooey gel, take it near an aid station so you can wash down with water.

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After the race you might feel a little sick from all those gels, but do try to get a protein: carb mix on board, for example, a 50g sachet of SIS Rego Rapid Recovery or opt for a tasty carbohydrate bar, such as Reload Flapjack Fused Fruit from Grenade.


For more information about eating on race day, check out our piece, 7 Nutrition tweaks for active people.

Introducing our Shop

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We’ve embarked on a journey of building a health service that can help you achieve your health goals, whether you simply want to become more active and eat well, or your managing an active athletic lifestyle

Amplify’s small and passionate team have been working tirelessly on a revolutionary set of services, that will help to transform your health and life. And we are proud to launch a vitamins and supplements store with a wide range of health and fitness products, as our first milestone.

We are dedicated to providing a wide range of products and brands, that we know most of you are taking today, to maintain your health and to supplement your active lifestyle. And we promise what we are building in this store keeps very much in line with our broader health service offering and will always add value to your life.

If you want to continue to hear about our developments, you can drop us your email address here.

We’ll send on more updates as we go along!

 

 

7 Nutrition Tweaks for Active People

If you exercise and maintain a healthy and active life, it makes sense to ensure you are in the driving seat when it comes to nutrition, too. Here are some easy tips to help you make changes for the better NOW!

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  1. Choose ‘active-friendly’ nutrients

One in five adults and one in six children may have low vitamin levels of the ‘sunshine’ vitamin – an estimated 10 million people across England alone, according to NICE recommendations from 2014. Vitamin D is essential for active people as it’s been shown to help build strong bones and boost muscle health. Other essentials for anyone keeping active include magnesium, which is lost when we sweat, and essential fatty acids for a healthy heart. And take antioxidants to protect against damaging free radicals, which according to studies are produced when we train, particularly if it’s hard enough to feel exhausted. Try sports antioxidants from Reflex to beat oxidative stress.

  1. Eat before exercise

Before a run, cycle or cardio event, endurance athletes should focus on consuming slow release carbs and allow time to digest the fuel (this will vary from person to person, but for most it’s around two hours). If you’re in a hurry grab a carb bar, such as SIS’s Go Energy Bar. If you’re lifting weights opt for lean protein and carbs, for example lean chicken and noodles or for time-pressed gym bunnies try a Promax Bar from Maxi Nutrition.

  1. Fuel up on the move

If you’re working out aerobically for 90 minutes or more you’ll need to top up your glycogen stores and keep on top of electrolytes. The American College of Sports Medicine recommend we fuel every 45-60 minutes during a long workout, taking on board 30-60 grams of carbohydrate (120-240 calories) per hour. For ideas on what to eat during your workout visit the Amplify Shop.

  1. Get Carbs on board after your workout

After a long run or bike ride, or hard session at the gym, you’ll need to boost your carb and protein levels for energy and repair. “Choose a three-to-one ratio, carb:protein if you’ve trained hard and re-fuel within the first hour – the acute phase of recovery,” suggests Dr Justin Roberts from Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge. Unrefined, or liquid sources of carbs are a good choice as they will digest quicker, try SIS Rapid Rego Recovery and for more ideas, check out all our post workout nutrition products.

  1. Stay Hydrated

Staying hydrated is vital for total health as well as maintaining good performance in sport and it’s why we’ve included a hydration measure on our dashboard (coming soon!). When you are exercising and active it’s essential to stay on top of hydration levels, particularly as the weather heats up in the summer months. Try Zero Extreme tablets, which have the added benefits of extra vitamins, or Higher Nature’s Performax sachets with added electrolytes, great for post workout rehydration.

  1. Eat for your body type

Precision Nutrition, the world’s largest online nutrition coaching company make the recommendations based on body type. Ectomorphs (longer limbs and skinnier bodies – a typical runner) metabolise carbohydrates better than other body types. The recommendation is for a 55:25:20 diet (carbs: protein: fats). Mesomorphs (stockier, muscular athletic types) need a 40:30:30 diet. And endomorphs (rounder and heavier) are recommended a 25:35:40 combination.

  1. Get rid of refined sugar

Eddie Izzard, the 54 year old comedian who recently ran 27 marathons in 27 days, gave up ‘refined sugar’ three years ago, ‘Once you get yourself off refined sugar, you do get to a much better place,’ he told the BBC. The simplest way to kick-start going sugar-free is to get label savvy. If sugar is in the Red, don’t buy it! Hidden sugar is in most foods, even those we perceive to be healthy. For example, a 100g portion of granola can have around 13g of sugar. Swap sugar-laden cereal for protein, for example, boiled eggs, which will fill you up, and give you energy.

Looking for sugar free fuel for your training – check out the range at the Amplify Shop.

 

 

Magnesium

 

Twitchy legs, cramps, sore muscles and feeling tired? You may need to check your magnesium levels

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What is magnesium?

It’s the fourth most abundant mineral in the body. About 50 per cent of your body’s magnesium is contained in your bones, while the remainder is inside your tissues and organs. Magnesium is important in more than 300 chemical reactions that keep the body working properly. People get magnesium from their diet, but sometimes magnesium supplements are needed if magnesium levels are too low. Dietary intake of magnesium may be low, particularly among women.

Food sources

  • Spinach and kale (but don’t over cook)
  • Seeds (pumpkin seeds are a great source)
  • Nuts (particularly almonds)
  • Peas
  • Beans
  • Whole unrefined grains
  • Halibut and Mackerel


The Benefits of magnesium

Bone health

As it’s found in the bones it’s needed for bone health, along with other nutrients such as calcium and vitamin D.

Heart and blood pressure

Magnesium is necessary in the transport of ions that conduct nerve impulses for normal muscle contraction, and heart rhythm, and a deficiency can result in arrhythmias (irregular heart beat, too fast or too slow). Magnesium deficiency can also lead to higher blood pressure (but take too much and your blood pressure can drop).

Muscle health

In 2006 researchers found that low levels of magnesium impact on muscle function: including oxygen uptake, energy production and electrolyte balance. A deficiency in magnesium can also result in calcium deposits staying in the cells, which can restrict muscle contraction. This, too, can lead to lactic acid build up and that painful muscle cramping, and twitches. The right levels of magnesium can help active people and endurance athletes recover from exercise by allowing muscles to contract and relax effectively.

Energy Production

Magnesium is responsible for synthesis of ATP (Adenosine Triphosphate – known as the ‘energy currency’ of cells) energy. ATP energy is released for all muscle contractions and when we exercise it needs to be synthesised quickly.


When to take a supplement

We lose magnesium when we sweat and if you’re someone who enjoys strenuous exercise you should consider taking a supplement as it can, according to research, increase urinary and sweat losses that may increase magnesium requirements by 10 to 20 per cent (Nielsen and Lukaski 2006).

Lactic acid is produced when oxygen in the body becomes limited through strenuous activity, and this can cause a ‘burn’ in your legs. Research, including a Turkish study which looked at 30 people following a four-week jumping training programme has concluded that magnesium supplements can help lower lactate levels. Another round up of research from 2000 found competitive rowers who took a magnesium supplement (360 mg/d) for four weeks had lower serum lactate concentrations and 10 per cent lower oxygen uptake during a controlled submaximal exercise test.

The UK recommended intake for magnesium is 300mg for men and 270mg for women. In the US, the recommendation is higher but recent surveys have found that some 57 per cent of the US population is not meeting the recommended levels. And some experts argue athletes need more than this – as much as 500mg a day. Magnesium supplements are available in many formats and often are often combined with vitamin D, or calcium, to help boost bone health.


Oils and Bath Salts

Magnesium can be absorbed through your skin and help to displace the calcium ions that may cause muscle cramping and restlessness and some say it’s a more effective way to take magnesium and helps to avoid overdose (which can result in diarrhoea). Note when using oil, check to see if it has black pepper added; this can make itching and irritability associated with magnesium oil worse! Epsom Salts contain magnesium, too and added to a bath make for a fantastic post workout recovery.