The body needs magnesium for more than 300 different reactions, so it’s a mineral you can’t live without. Now there’s even more reason to “think magnesium” when it comes to good health. A new study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed it may increase insulin sensitivity.
Why is It Important to Increase Insulin Sensitivity?
Insulin resistance is a common problem, especially for people who are obese. Insulin resistance is a condition where cells in the body don’t respond well to the insulin the pancreas produces. This means the pancreas has to pump out more insulin to get glucose into cells.
This unhealthy state of affairs puts additional stress on the pancreas to meet the increased demand for insulin. Over time the pancreas burns out and an insulin resistant person develops type 2 diabetes. Insulin resistance also increases the risk of heart disease and, possibly, some types of cancer.
Taking Magnesium to Improve Insulin Sensitivity
Researchers at the University of California at Los Angeles, gave 14 overweight men and women 500 milligrams of magnesium citrate or a placebo for a month. At the end of the 30 days, they gave them time to wash the magnesium or placebo out of their system – and then gave them the other treatment.
What did they find? While taking magnesium, the participants had lower levels of c-peptide, a protein produced when insulin is made. This means they were making less insulin because their insulin sensitivity was better. As a result, their fasting insulin levels were lower.
As the researchers in this study point out, taking magnesium causes certain genes involved in metabolic and inflammatory pathways to become more or less active, leading to greater insulin sensitivity. According to some studies, taking magnesium supplements reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes, which further supports the benefits of magnesium on insulin sensitivity.
Is It Safe to Take Magnesium Supplements to Increase Insulin Sensitivity?
Taking magnesium (no more than 500 milligrams a day) as a supplement is safe for most people, although some magnesium users develop diarrhea. People who have kidney problems shouldn’t take magnesium as a supplement since levels can build up in the body and lead to toxicity. Good food sources of magnesium include leafy vegetables, whole grains, legumes and nuts. Processed foods are a very poor source of this important mineral.
The Bottom Line?
If you’re overweight or obese or have a family history of type 2 diabetes, talk to your doctor about taking magnesium as a supplement. It may be beneficial for improving insulin sensitivity.
Nutraingredients.com. “Nutrigenomics Shows Benefit of Magnesium’s Metabolic Actions”
Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. “Magnesium”
Molecular Aspects of Medicine. Volume 24, Issues 1-3, 6 February 2003, Pages 39-52