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The Scientific Evidence Behind Exercise Performance and Magnesium


 By Elizabeth Foley 

It comes as no surprise that athletes regularly utilize magnesium supplements considering every cell in the body contains magnesium and needs it to function properly (1). A number of scientific studies have been conducted to better understand the role magnesium supplements play in exercise performance. Here is a thorough look at the current research regarding athletes' use of magnesium dietary supplements to improve athletic performance.   

Magnesium Supplements

Magnesium plays a critical role in the human body as an essential mineral. Magnesium assists in the maintenance of normal muscle function and takes part in the process of energy metabolism. Magnesium supplements can be purchased in a variety of forms and include magnesium oxide, citrate, and chloride. The absorption rate for each form of magnesium supplement varies. Studies have found that magnesium in the aspartate, citrate, lactate, and chloride forms is more bioavailable and better absorbed than magnesium oxide and magnesium sulfate (2). Additionally, forms of magnesium that dissolve well in liquid are shown to be better absorbed in the gut than less soluble forms.  

Current Research About Exercise Performance and Magnesium   

A number of recent studies shed light on the reasons athletes need adequate levels of magnesium to perform to the best of their ability. Here is what researchers found in regard to three questions about the relationship between magnesium and exercise performance.  

Does Physical Activity Increase the Need for Magnesium? 

Magnesium is required for the metabolic process that assists healthy muscle function. A magnesium deficiency can hold athletes back from achieving their athletic goals since their muscles are unable to function properly. Research shows that maintaining ideal levels of magnesium may require a higher level of supplementation for athletes compared to a person who does not regularly exercise. A number of studies have found that the need for magnesium supplementation increases as the individuals physical activity levels go up. Strenuous exercise increases urinary and sweat losses that may increase magnesium requirements by 10-20% as a result magnesium-deficient status may occur if intake is less than 260 mg/day for male and 220 mg/day for female athletes (3).  

Can Magnesium Improve Exercise Performance?  

Athletes are no stranger to the hard work and dedication needed to push their bodies to reach their full athletic potential. While there is no magic supplement an athlete can take to boost their abilities, research indicates magnesium does play a beneficial role in exercise performance. Magnesium has been shown to enhance glucose availability in the brain, muscle, and blood; in addition to reducing or delaying lactate accumulation in the muscle; leading researchers to believe magnesium has the ability to improve exercise performance (4). Research also demonstrates a positive association between magnesium status and muscle performance (5). In one study, magnesium improved grip strength, lower-leg power, knee extension torque, ankle extension strength, maximal isometric trunk flexion, rotation, and jumping performance.  

What are the Benefits of Magnesium for Aging Athletes?  

As athletes age their potential for injury increases and recovery time becomes longer after strenuous exercise. There are however, a long list of benefits for athletes who continue physical activity and remain fit as they grow older. Researchers find that magnesium supplements are especially beneficial for healthy exercise performance in elderly participants. According to one study, 12 weeks of daily magnesium oxide supplement improved the athletic performance in healthy elderly women research participants (6). Researchers concluded that magnesium supplements delay the age-related decline in physical performance based on the findings of this study.  

Learn More About Magnesium Supplements

Athletes along with those who live an active lifestyle find magnesium to be a helpful addition to improve their exercise performance. Visit  Health By Principal to learn more about the benefits of a complete magnesium supplement.  



  1. Alawi, A. A. M. (2018, April 16). Magnesium and human health: Perspectives and research directions. International Journal of Endocrinology. https://www.hindawi.com/journals/ije/2018/9041694/ 
  2. Office of dietary supplements - magnesium. (2021, August 11). National Institute of Health. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Magnesium-HealthProfessional/ 
  3. Nielsen, F. H. (2006, September 19). Update on the relationship between magnesium and exercise. PubMed. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17172008/ 
  4. Chen, H. (2014, January 20). Magnesium enhances exercise performance via increasing glucose availability in the blood, muscle, and brain during exercise. PubMed. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24465574/ 
  5. Can magnesium enhance exercise performance? (2017, September 1). PubMed Central (PMC). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5622706/ 
  6. Veronese, N. (2014). Effect of oral magnesium supplementation on physical performance in healthy elderly women involved in a weekly exercise program: A randomized controlled trial. PubMed. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25008857/



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