Magnesium and potassium, the reasons they are fundamental for muscle metabolism

Individuals practicing sports must pay particular attention to their nutrition, as the food we consume can significantly support muscle metabolism. This holds especially true for individuals engaged in rigorous physical activity and endurance sports.
Among all the elements, the two that may be tied to muscular activity the most are the minerals magnesium and potassium. Neither of the two ought to ever be lacking in sufficient quantities from an athlete’s diet.

The role of minerals in the muscle

Magnesium is involved in hundreds of enzymatic processes, and is pivotal in energy mechanisms and neuromuscular transmission. It therefore contributes to the preservation of normal muscle function, but also to cardiac activity regulation.
Similarly, potassium is crucial for muscle and nerve function. On one hand, it allows for the prevention of muscle fatigue while exercising, while on the other, it, alongside magnesium, is essential in supporting mental functioning.

In which sports are they fundamental?

When engaging in endurance sports, i.e. sports in which performance is sustained over a prolonged period, such as cycling, swimming, running, cross-country skiing, triathlons, as well as tennis or padel — the need for magnesium and potassium increases.
In these cases, supplements may be used to increase one’s normal intake of these minerals from their diet.
There are many supplements on the market. The most effective and proven allies for replenishing energy are the combination of magnesium and potassium with other micronutrients, including creatine, carnitine, vitamins, minerals, and arginine.

Arginine and muscle recovery

The latter in particular, an amino acid, is necessary for the production of proteins, such as collagen, and other essential biological components, such as insulin and hemoglobin. Furthermore, arginine also plays a role in muscle metabolism, particularly in athletes.
It is indeed essential for glycogen synthesis, and contributes to the detoxification of nitrogen waste originating in protein metabolism, and plays a role in nitric oxide synthesis, with a vasodilating effect. It has significant immunomodulatory and antioxidant effects, which makes it very useful for endurance sports specifically, but also for more intense training sessions and lengthy sports competitions in general.
It is beneficial in sports because, among other things, it delays lactic acid production during the recovery phase, which results in improved competitive performance. As a matter of fact, it is important to keep in mind that the muscle recovery process constitutes a crucial phase in an athlete’s training, during which it is important to rehydrate the body, to supply it with the necessary protein, but to also “recharge” it by replenishing the minerals that are best suited for aiding muscle function. Additionally, arginine can also elevate blood flow to the exercising muscles.

Post-injury recovery

That’s not all, however! Magnesium, potassium, as well as arginine, are crucial for injury recovery and muscular trauma. Think of muscle contractions, which are common in endurance sports such as cycling and running but also in others like soccer, tennis or padel.
As they are a response mechanism to very intense muscular effort, the contraction may be a result of excessive strain, the muscle being in a fatigued state, or due to insufficient training or warm-up. In this case, as with a simple muscle cramp, it is necessary to massage the area affected by applying firm pressure, which raises muscle temperature, while also supplementing with magnesium, potassium, arginine, carnitine, and vitamin C at the same time.

The role of Vitamin C

While the latter is generally given little consideration by athletes, it is, in fact, important to support intense physical activity. Indeed, ascorbic acid — the scientific name of this precious vitamin present predominantly in citrus fruits and many vegetables — plays a powerful antioxidant role and stimulates immune function. Therefore, supplementing with Vitamin C is helpful in reducing cortisol response when exercising, but also in the case of injury/accidents, and to support many functions necessary for the health of the muscles and skeletal system.
In general, it should be noted that all these nutrients are beneficial in the case of traumatic injury but also for preventative purposes: an adequate diet alongside proper hydration and electrolyte intake allow for a reduction in muscle tears and/or cramps.