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.
Luckily, there are ways to counteract this. Ensuring proper magnesium levels can help your body maintain good metabolic health.
How Magnesium Helps With Insulin Response And Blood Sugar Control
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 briefly 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.
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 Excessive Body Weight
As discussed above, glucose metabolism includes enzymes, which depend 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 increases fat storage in your fat cells, enlarging them, which can lead to obesity.
The Link Between Insulin Resistance, Magnesium, And Belly Fat
High insulin resistance often leads to excessive weight gain. 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 fatter 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
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 abdominal fat.
While cortisol response varies, many people eat more– especially foods rich in fat and sugar. That’s right. Stress eating is real.
Cortisol 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 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 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.
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 supports healthy blood sugar levels.
How much magnesium should you take? Following recommended dietary allowances (RDAs) seems safe. 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.
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 are critical to multiple bodily functions.
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 excessive weight gain.
While a few types of magnesium can support healthy blood sugar levels, it’s best to ensure your bases are covered. Do this with Magnesium Breakthrough.
- Shamnani G, Bhartiy SS, Jiwane R, Gupta V, Verma N, Verma D. Correlation of serum magnesium with insulin resistance in north Indian adult population. Curr Diabetes Rev. 2020;16(3):254-261. doi:10.2174/1573399814666181016164432
- Cahill F, Shahidi M, Shea J, et al. High dietary magnesium intake is associated with low insulin resistance in the Newfoundland population. PLoS One. 2013;8(3):e58278. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0058278
- Matschinsky FM, Wilson DF. The central role of glucokinase in glucose homeostasis: A perspective 50 years after demonstrating the presence of the enzyme in islets of Langerhans. Front Physiol. 2019;10:148. doi:10.3389/fphys.2019.00148
- Cnop M, Landchild MJ, Vidal J, et al. The concurrent accumulation of intra-abdominal and subcutaneous fat explains the association between insulin resistance and plasma leptin concentrations : distinct metabolic effects of two fat compartments. Diabetes. 2002;51(4):1005-1015. doi:10.2337/diabetes.51.4.1005
- Paz-Filho G, Mastronardi C, Wong ML, Licinio J. Leptin therapy, insulin sensitivity, and glucose homeostasis. Indian J Endocrinol Metab. 2012;16(Suppl 3):S549-55. doi:10.4103/2230-8210.105571
- Genske F, Kühn JP, Pietzner M, et al. Abdominal fat deposits determined by magnetic resonance imaging in relation to leptin and vaspin levels as well as insulin resistance in the general adult population. Int J Obes (Lond). 2018;42(2):183-189. doi:10.1038/ijo.2017.187
- Epel EE, Moyer AE, Martin CD, et al. Stress-induced cortisol, mood, and fat distribution in men. Obes Res. 1999;7(1):9-15. doi:10.1002/j.1550-8528.1999.tb00385.x
- Tang T, Kim S, Jordon JB, Horstemeyer MF, Wang PT. Atomistic simulations of fatigue crack growth and the associated fatigue crack tip stress evolution in magnesium single crystals. Comput Mater Sci. 2011;50(10):2977-2986. doi:10.1016/j.commatsci.2011.05.016
- Rafiee M, Ghavami A, Rashidian A, Hadi A, Askari G. The effect of magnesium supplementation on anthropometric indices: a systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis of clinical trials. Br J Nutr. 2021;125(6):644-656. doi:10.1017/S0007114520003037
- Castellanos-Gutiérrez A, Sánchez-Pimienta TG, Carriquiry A, da Costa THM, Ariza AC. Higher dietary magnesium intake is associated with lower body mass index, waist circumference and serum glucose in Mexican adults. Nutr J. 2018;17(1):114. doi:10.1186/s12937-018-0422-2
- Veronese N, Watutantrige-Fernando S, Luchini C, et al. Effect of magnesium supplementation on glucose metabolism in people with or at risk of diabetes: a systematic review and meta-analysis of double-blind randomized controlled trials. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2016;70(12):1354-1359. doi:10.1038/ejcn.2016.154