As a freediver, if you knew of a nutrient that could soften your contractions, relax your body and mind, and make you more alkaline, would that be too good to be true? What if getting that nutrient involved eating chocolate? Would you want to know more?
Here’s what you need to know about magnesium:
What is it and what does it do?
Magnesium is a mineral involved in literally hundreds of processes in the body. Among these functions are: the action of your heart muscle, formation of bones and teeth, blood sugar regulation and maintaining normal blood pressure.
Why would I be deficient in magnesium?
There is a lot of research being done on magnesium currently. It seems that not only are many of us deficient, but also its many benefits have been underestimated. Many minerals, including magnesium, are depleted in the soil where our vegetables are grown, so we get less from the food we eat.
Additionally the levels in our own bodies are decreased when we are under stress. Add to this: drinking coffee, black tea and alcohol, eating a diet high in sugar taking pharmaceuticals and even sweating too much, then many of us will have low levels.
Some of the benefits of magnesium for freedivers are:
more restful sleep
relaxation of the nervous system
maintaining normal blood pressure
Furthermore, not only does this mineral relax muscles, it also helps to strengthen them. And if that weren’t enough, it also alkalizes the body and reduces lactic acid build up. Is it possible that more relaxed muscles could mean softer contractions?
Where can I get it?
Chocolate! Or to be specific: cacao. So yes, there is another good reason to eat (dark) chocolate. Less excitingly: green leafy vegetables, seaweed and kelp, nuts, seeds, and avocado are also good sources. Check out a delicious alkaline chocolate smoothie for post freedive training (or anytime!) here.
However, as noted above, eating a wide range of nutritious food may not be enough. Many of us will benefit from a good quality supplement. My favourite brands are: Higher Nature Truefood Dyno-mins Together Marine Salts These brands are food-sourced or from natural forms. That means they are more bio-available – or easier for the body to use – than a synthetic supplement. (All available on amazon or in good health shops).
Be aware that some forms of magnesium treat constipation (e.g. Epsom salts), so these are best avoided if you don’t need this benefit! Look for Glycinate (rather than Citrate or Oxide).
Applied to the skin
Magnesium is well absorbed through the skin – or transdermally. This can often be a better way to improve our levels than by taking a supplement. You can use a magnesium ‘oil’ or gel. It prickles at first if your levels are low, which can be a useful indicator of whether you need it or not. I use Better You or Life Flo magnesium oil and Life Flo magnesium gel (use google or amazon to find).
Freediving will mirror back to you what is going on in your own mind, body and spirit. Our performance in the water reflects the care we take of our bodies and our minds. There are small steps we can take to create an optimal physical condition, which will then benefit our mind and spirit too.