Athletes, warriors, surgeons, fighter pilots: all these people rely on the ability of their body and mind to act and react calmly and with pinpoint precision during moments of tremendous stress. Yet although honing and fine-tuning themselves to such a high level takes years of intense training and conditioning, many of these people fail to reach their full potential. The reason is simple: their diets, like 75% of people in the western world, are deficient in the most essential mineral needed to sustain life. That mineral is magnesium.

Magnesium is essential for life. Primarily, it acts as a catalyst, activating ATP (adenosine triphosphate, our cells’ main source of energy), along with 300 other enzymes within our body. Effectively, it acts as the primary source of power for all of your body’s life functions. When we get the proper amount of magnesium from our diet, all the functions of the body and mind are supported and enhanced, allowing us to function at our peak performance all of the time. In this state, the electrical activity in the brain is increased, enhancing its memory capacity, while helping it to release feel good hormones such as dopamine and serotonin, which reduce stress levels and aid the higher functions of the brain’s frontal lobes. In other words, as far as brain chemistry goes, an abundant supply of magnesium in the body makes us more intelligent and gives us a greater ability to focus and react under pressure.

Apart from our brain functions being enhanced, magnesium also extends its effects to the rest of the nervous system, calming the sympathetic branch of the central nervous system (the part of the nervous system that becomes active when we’re placed in high stress situations) and lowering our heart beat and blood pressure, while removing cortisol (the stress hormone) from the body. Put simply, magnesium makes us super efficient at dealing with mental and physical stress, a quality essential for the modern warrior, and in fact, essential for most people living in the world today.

As well as the positive effects magnesium has on the brain and nervous system, it also plays a vital roll in muscle contraction, rebuilding tissue, lowering inflammation, and strengthening bones. An important point for anyone involved in intense physical activity to take note of is the more intense your training becomes, the more magnesium your body uses. This basically means, the more intensely you physically exert your self the higher the chances are that you will become magnesium deficient. This is something I realised only recently; increasing the intensity of my training caused a sudden drop in my energy levels rather than building them. This was accompanied by a clouded, dull mind and general feelings of being run down. The bottom line for athletes or anyone undertaking more physical activity: increased physical exertion uses up more magnesium.

And here’s the good news for all you athletes and modern warriors: supplementing your diet with magnesium, or simply eating more magnesium rich foods, in conjunction with increased physical training has the effect of enhancing performance. In fact, supplementing your diet with magnesium while training raises testosterone levels, aids in building muscle mass, and increases physical strength, while reducing recovery times from injury.

Although Magnesium has countless benefits, the ones that make it into my top five are as follows:

  • Increases physical and mental energy
    Generates a clear and focused mind
    Promotes a positive outlook on life
    Strengthens and enhances the body’s resistance to stress and environmental pathogens
    Better sleep cycles (I work night shifts, which are a nightmare for my body clock. Magnesium certainly makes night work more manageable)

The recommended daily allowance of magnesium differs depending on whether you’re male or female, and whether you’re under or over the age of 30. But a good number to go with is 300mg per day. Foods rich in magnesium are brazil nuts, dark green, leafy vegetables, cocao nibs, and whole-grain cereals. There are also a number of other supplements that work along side magnesium to supercharge your body and mind. These include vitamin C, vitamin B complex, and the mineral zinc. However, it’s important to realise that all of these supplements can be obtained from a good, balanced diet. To reap the benefits, you must become more aware of what you’re eating. It’s that simple.

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