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How Magnesium Can Improve Blood Sugar Control and Weight Loss

Most people think of magnesium as a relaxing mineral, but it is much more than that. It’s also essential for your blood sugar control and metabolic health.

Fact checked by Nattha Wannissorn
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When you hear the word metabolic, you probably think of your metabolism and weight loss. Metabolic health measures how your body converts food into energy. One good indicator of metabolic health is your blood sugar levels.

When you eat carbohydrates, your body turns them into glucose. As glucose levels increase, your pancreas produces the hormone insulin to regulate your blood sugar levels. Insulin regulates your blood sugar by moving glucose from your blood to your cells. Your cells use it as energy (adenosine triphosphate or ATP) or store it for later.

If you consistently eat a diet high in refined carbohydrates, your pancreas continues to pump insulin into your system to regulate your blood sugar levels. Over time, your cells can become less sensitive to insulin, leading to high blood sugar levels and, in some cases, type 2 diabetes.

Luckily, there are ways to counteract this. Ensuring you have proper magnesium levels can help your body maintain good metabolic health. 

How Magnesium Helps With Insulin Response And Blood Sugar Control 

checking your blood sugar

Magnesium plays a crucial role in carbohydrate and glucose metabolism. It’s necessary to activate critical enzymes. It regulates insulin secretion from the pancreas and helps keep your body sensitive to insulin.  All of this helps regulate your blood sugar levels.

The pancreas produces insulin. A magnesium deficiency disrupts insulin release. The pancreas should release insulin in two phases:

  • The first is a burst of insulin triggered about 5-10 minutes after you eat. 
  • The second phase occurs just after the first, but the insulin is released gradually for 25-30 minutes and then stops increasing.  

Individuals with low magnesium levels only release the second phase of insulin. Lower levels of insulin result in higher blood sugar levels.  

Magnesium deficiency contributes to insulin resistance. One study followed the magnesium blood serum levels of 5,044 individuals ages 18 and older without insulin resistance for 5.8 years on average. Subjects with the lowest magnesium levels demonstrated the highest incidence of insulin resistance and diabetes.

The good news is that you can combat magnesium deficiency by taking magnesium supplements or eating a high magnesium diet. A study of 130 healthy adults examined the fasting blood levels of magnesium, blood sugar, and insulin. Higher magnesium levels correlate with lower levels of both blood sugar and insulin. Therefore, maintaining higher magnesium levels helps ensure healthy blood sugar and insulin levels.

High magnesium intake also reduces insulin resistance. In a study of 2,295 healthy adults, subjects completed a food intake questionnaire to determine their dietary magnesium intake. Those individuals with the highest dietary magnesium intake had the lowest circulating insulin levels and vice versa. Overweight and obese individuals and pre-menopausal women experience the greatest benefits of magnesium supplementation on insulin resistance.

Magnesium And Glucose Metabolism: How Magnesium Helps You Effectively Use Glucose

We’ve already talked a little about magnesium and glucose, but let’s go more in-depth.

Glucose metabolism begins with food. When you eat carbohydrates, they break down into simple sugars, which then turn into glucose.  Glucose flows through your blood to your cells. Your cells break down glucose into energy through cellular respiration or convert it into glycogen or fat to use later. 

So how does magnesium play a role? Magnesium is critical for glucose metabolism. To turn glucose into energy (ATP) used by cells, the enzyme glucokinase must convert glucose into glucose-6-phosphate. Magnesium directly influences the rate of glucokinase activity.

Glucokinase also serves as a glucose-sensing device used by the body to either increase or decrease glucose levels to maintain proper balance. If you do not have enough magnesium in your body and glucokinase activity remains low, your body cannot properly regulate your glucose levels.

blood sugar

Metabolic Effects Of A Magnesium Deficiency

We’ve already covered the link between magnesium deficiency, insulin resistance, and poor blood sugar control, but it doesn’t stop there. Low magnesium can also increase your risk of obesity and belly fat.

Why Poor Glucose Metabolism Can Contribute To Obesity

As discussed above, we know that glucose metabolism includes enzymes, many of which are dependent on magnesium. Magnesium is also necessary for activating the conversion of vitamin B1 into thiamine diphosphate (TDP), a critical coenzyme of metabolism. If your magnesium levels are low (causing low TDP) it alters glucose metabolism.

The liver also plays a role in glucose metabolism. Without sufficient magnesium in the liver, pyruvate dehydrogenase (PDH) (another enzyme dependent on magnesium and TDP) decreases activity. Decreased PDH activity can lead to excess nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate (NADPH). Excess NADPH leads to higher fat storage in your fat cells, thereby enlarging them, which can lead to obesity.

The Link Between Insulin Resistance, Magnesium, And Belly Fat

High insulin resistance often leads to obesity. Remember that high insulin resistance means your body does not respond well to insulin release, resulting in increased blood sugar levels. 

Nobody wants a spare tire for a stomach. Unfortunately, visceral abdominal fat (the fat found around your organs behind your abdominal wall) is a strong indicator of insulin resistance for both men and women. This is not the kind of fat that is soft to the touch but more solid because it is behind your muscles. 

So, how does that fat end up there? Coming into play is another hormone called leptin. Leptin helps keep the balance between glucose and insulin levels. It is also the most abundantly produced hormone in your fat cells, and individuals with high body fat levels also have high leptin levels.

When blood glucose levels are balanced, leptin and insulin regulate each other. Leptin also increases your body’s insulin sensitivity by decreasing your body fat content. It does this through the pancreas. 

When the pancreas releases insulin, insulin stimulates the expression of leptin in fatty tissue. When your leptin levels are higher, it tells your brain to eat less, allowing your body to burn more fat and reduce fat content.

As previously discussed, your body does not produce enough insulin without adequate magnesium levels. Without enough insulin, there is no increase in leptin to tell your brain to reduce your appetite. This can make you eat more, contributing to weight gain. 

Belly Fat And Stress Response

grabbing bellyfat

An exaggerated cortisol response also plays a role in carrying around additional belly fat. Increased stress leads to higher levels of cortisol in your body. Both men and women with higher cortisol exposure due to stress have greater amounts of abdominal fat.

While cortisol response varies, many people respond by eating more– especially foods that are rich in fat and sugar. That’s right. Stress eating is real. 

Cortisol itself increases blood sugar and can contribute to insulin resistance and fat gain. Magnesium to the rescue yet again. Magnesium can help mitigate your stress response. In the long-run, this means less cortisol and less fat gain from stress. It’s a win-win-win.

Supplementing with magnesium may even help with midsection fat. A meta-analysis of studies examined 28 studies with a total of 2,013 participants. Subjects considered obese with a body mass index (BMI) greater than 30 kg/m2 decreased their waist circumference by an average of about 2 cm.

A 30-year study followed 5,115 Americans. Researchers monitored magnesium intake, BMI, skinfold fat measurements (from the belly, tricep, and below the shoulder blade), and fasting insulin levels. Participants with higher magnesium intake consistently had lower BMI, lower skinfold fat measurements, and lower fasting insulin levels. Therefore, magnesium could help reduce your BMI, belly fat, overall body fat, and insulin levels.

Another study analyzed the data from the Mexican National Health and Nutrition Survey of 1,573 healthy adults. They looked at magnesium intake compared to participants’ waist circumference and BMI. When comparing all participants, for every 10mg increase in magnesium intake per 1,000 calories eaten per day, participants’ BMI decreased on average by .72% and waist circumference by 0.5 cm. 

Note that these are correlations, not causations. There may be other explanations, such as those who ate more magnesium also had healthier diets with more vegetables. Regardless, these results confirm the importance of magnesium in metabolism.

Can Magnesium Help With Diabetes And PCOS?

PCOS

Many diabetes and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) patients are deficient in magnesium. While magnesium is not a cure for diabetes and PCOS, correcting a magnesium deficiency seems to help. Always consult your doctor first because magnesium can interact with some medications. 

A meta-analysis of studies investigated the effects of magnesium supplementation on patients with diabetes and those at high risk of developing diabetes compared to a placebo group. Magnesium supplementation reduced fasting blood sugar levels in patients with diabetes and improved insulin sensitivity in patients at increased risk of developing diabetes. Therefore, magnesium supplementation benefits individuals with diabetes or at risk of developing diabetes.

Polycystic ovarian syndrome is an obscure condition that is the most common cause of infertility in women. Symptoms include:

  • Insulin resistance
  • Elevated testosterone
  • Infertility
  • Anxiety/depression 
  • Acne
  • Facial hair  

Common treatments include diabetic drugs such as:

  • Metformin 
  • Hormonal birth control
  • Antidepressants

Other treatments include surgery, such as ovarian drilling, or dietary changes. 

While the cause of PCOS is not entirely known, insulin resistance is common among women with PCOS and seems to be related to how the disease develops. Improving blood sugar control in PCOS improves overall symptoms and clinical outcomes.

Most women with PCOS have high testosterone. Magnesium, however, helps maintain lower testosterone levels and alleviate the severity of PCOS.

A study of over 1,000 women with PCOS analyzed the relationships between magnesium levels, blood sugar levels, insulin resistance, and testosterone. Those women with lower magnesium had higher insulin resistance and testosterone levels.

We’ve talked about how essential magnesium benefits your health, but there are many different types of magnesium. Which one is the best? Should you take many at the same time? Read on to find out. 

Which Magnesium Is Best For Improving Blood Sugar Control And Body Composition?

The bottom line is that correcting a magnesium deficiency and maintaining healthy magnesium levels is important. Studies show that the following types of magnesium support healthy blood sugar levels:

  • Magnesium gluconate
  • Magnesium lactate
  • Magnesium oxide
  • Magnesium citrate
  • Magnesium taurate 

Magnesium taurate may be particularly beneficial because it combines magnesium and taurine. Taurine supplementation helps balance blood sugar levels. 

blood glucose monitor

How much magnesium should you take? Following recommended dietary allowances (RDAs) seems like a safe bet, right? Unfortunately, no.  RDAs are for healthy individuals who maintain sufficient nutrient levels. Some people with insulin resistance or trouble regulating their blood sugar may need to increase magnesium intake beyond RDA. In fact, increasing magnesium supplementation beyond RDA improves insulin sensitivity.

In a placebo-controlled study of fourteen healthy but overweight adults, subjects received either 500 mg of magnesium citrate or a placebo for four weeks. Compared to the placebo group, subjects taking magnesium had better insulin sensitivity. Therefore, increasing magnesium beyond the highest RDA of 420 mg (recommended for males age 31+) improves insulin sensitivity.

Animal and clinical studies show that different types of magnesium go into different tissues differently. Also, the salt or organic acid that comes with magnesium, such as glycinate or malate, provides additional health benefits. These reasons are why it’s important to take multiple forms of magnesium. 

Magnesium Breakthrough is an excellent way to ensure you get all the magnesium your body needs. Not only does it contain all of the types of magnesium linked to lowering insulin resistance and blood sugar levels, but all seven types of magnesium critical to multiple bodily functions.

The Takeaway

Magnesium is essential to help control blood sugar levels and maintain metabolic health. Fixing a deficiency can help ensure healthy blood levels and proper insulin sensitivity and improve obesity and PCOS.
While a few types of magnesium can balance blood sugar levels, it’s best to ensure your bases are covered. Do this with Magnesium Breakthrough.

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