As spring approaches and the outlook regarding the lifting of lockdown restrictions appears optimistic, we are all really looking forward to getting back to our normal sport and fitness activities, whether that is five-a-side football, local cricket or rugby, or getting back to the open spaces on the golf course.
Much has been written about the benefits of vitamin D, both for bone and muscle health, and early research results pointing to benefits in boosting immunity against COVID-19, but today I want to write about two other nutrients that have benefits in sport, and don’t get talked about quite so much in the sport sector – Curcumin and Magnesium.
Many of us are familiar with Curcumin, which is the active constituent of Turmeric, and has been used for hundreds of years in Ayurvedic medicine. It is believed to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, as well as being beneficial for supporting immunity and digestive health.
The proportion of Curcumin found in the Turmeric herb is very small, so it may be difficult to derive benefit from using the herb in cooking, so if you are taking a supplement it is better to take Curcumin itself. As it is fat soluble, it will get absorbed better when taken with food, and in fact it has been shown that when taken with piperine (in black pepper), the absorption of Curcumin improves dramatically.
So what about sport? A study carried out by The University of Queensland last year found that taking Curcumin improved the incidence of DOMS – Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness. You know the way it gets you. When you do some new form of exercise, or vary your training method, you feel fine immediately afterwards, but then on day 3, your muscles really ache!
The authors suggest that “curcumin may facilitate a quicker return to exercise training and/or allow a higher training intensity than a placebo by reducing post-exercise pain, modulating inflammatory pathways and reducing lactate accumulation in an exercising population” which has to be a good thing!
Synergy Biologics have a comprehensive range we call “Botanicals”, and our Curcumin supplement is vegan, with each capsule containing 60mg of pure Curcumin, with a recommended dose of two capsules daily.
In recent years in has become acknowledged that Magnesium is an essential nutrient, which acts both on its own in the body, and as a co-factor with other nutrients to empower both elements to maximise their benefits. One such case is the important synergy between Magnesium and Vitamin D, where it is instrumental in regulating Calcium uptake into bones. But it also does so much more, acting as a co-factor to hundreds of enzymes that control many of our cellular functions, especially energy production and storage via ATP (Adenosine TriPhosphate) metabolism, and supporting reduction in fatigue.
It is only right to point out that a healthy diet should provide all of our Magnesium requirements, and it can be found in nuts, spices, leafy vegetables, and cereals. However, in modern Western processed foods, Magnesium content often falls away, so for some people supplementation is the better way of guaranteeing adequate Magnesium intake.
The National Migraine Centre has carried out research that suggests that sufferers of certain types of migraine may be deficient in Magnesium, and that during attacks, Magnesium levels in the brain can be low. They say that taking a supplement might restore levels and help prevent attacks.
And so to sport. Research published in 2012 found that Magnesium intake is associated with strength performance in elite basketball, handball and volleyball players, and is needed for efficient muscle contraction and relaxation.
Those involved in endurance sports may find that they lose excess Magnesium through sweat, and put a greater stress on their bones and muscles, so it is important for such sportspeople to eat adequate amounts of Magnesium-containing foods, or failing that consider supplementation.
So, which form of Magnesium supplement is best? Certain forms of Magnesium, such as Magnesium Oxide, are more likely to cause diarrhoea as a side effect. The National Migraine Centre mention Magnesium Citrate as being well-tolerated, and indeed most of the research that has been carried out on Magnesium has employed the Citrate version. Another form that is now finding favour is Magnesium Malate, which combines Magnesium with Malic Acid, and is well absorbed and well tolerated.
Malic Acid itself has become an item of interest in recent years in terms of possible benefits in conditions such as fibromyalgia and other chronic pain conditions, although research needs to be carried out to establish these suggested benefits.
Synergy Biologics’ Sport range offers Sport Max, a combination of Vitamin D3, Magnesium (Citrate) and Vitamin K2 MK-7 all in one capsule, and alternatively a Magnesium Malate supplement on its own. Both of these are LGC tested to demonstrate there are no WADA-prohibited substances lurking inside, a factor which is crucial to the career of a professional athlete or sports person. Both supplements are vegan, and made here in our facility in the Midlands, and:
✓ Halal Certified
✓ Kosher Certified
✓ Gelatin free
✓ Peanut/Soya free
✓ Gluten free
✓ No animal testing
✓ LGC Tested
✓ Non GMO
✓ Colour Free
For those taking regular medication, please consult a GP or pharmacist about taking a Magnesium Supplement. It is possible that if Magnesium reduces blood pressure, or affects muscle tone, those taking medications for similar conditions should be cautious about taking a supplement.
Steve Simbler MRPharmS
Head of Sports Nutrition