Magnesium is an essential mineral found throughout nature – including your own body. Most people know it as a natural remedy to help you sleep and relax. Plus, magnesium is an important player in building and maintaining healthy bones.
But, what most people don’t realize is that magnesium can prevent and manage type 2 diabetes as well as a related health issue known as insulin resistance. In fact, magnesium’s impact on blood sugar and insulin has been so well-studied, many informed physicians now advise their patients to incorporate more magnesium-rich foods into their diet or even consider a high quality supplement.
Most people remain uninformed about the dangers of insulin resistance
Insulin resistance happens when your body stops “listening” to this important hormone produced by your pancreas. Among its many roles, insulin shuttles sugar out of the blood and into liver and muscle cells, giving these cells energy to function.
In most people, insulin resistance develops as a result of multiple factors – especially poor diet and obesity – that cause blood sugar levels to go sky high. With so much blood sugar around, the pancreas pumps out more and more insulin in an attempt to do damage control.
Eventually, with so much available insulin, the body simply starts to “tune out” and insulin resistance occurs. Simply put, insulin resistance is not good.
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It’s associated with an increased risk for diabetes, metabolic syndrome, chronic inflammation, and other health problems. But we now know magnesium plays a pivotal role in this balance between insulin and blood sugar.
For example, multiple studies show that a magnesium deficiency – which affects nearly 50% of all Americans – is associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance. Additionally, hyperinsulinemia (high levels of insulin in the blood) increases the rate at which magnesium is excreted through the urine, further depleting you of this critical mineral.
It’s not entirely clear which direction the relationship goes – that is, whether insulin resistance contributes to low levels of magnesium or if low magnesium contributes to insulin resistance. It could be a bit of both. But the research is relatively clear about the health benefits of this natural remedy.
For example, magnesium supplementation can reduce insulin resistance even in non-diabetic people, as seen in a 2011 double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized controlled trial published in Diabetes, Obesity & Metabolism.
Another study showed that supplementing with just 250 mg of magnesium per day for 3 months helped people with type 2 diabetes lower insulin resistance and improve glycemic control.
Studies show magnesium supplementation can lower blood sugar levels and reduce diabetes risk. Plus, this powerful mineral has even been shown to:
- Boost athletic performance
- Ease symptoms of depression
- Improve bone and heart health
- Lower blood pressure
- Reduce the risk of chronic inflammation
Here’s how much magnesium you should consume per day – plus 7 great sources
According to the Food and Nutrition Board (FNB) at the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies, most adults need 310 to 420 mg of magnesium per day, but you may need more than this depending on your health, age, and lifestyle.
You can get a lot of this through magnesium-rich foods, including:
- Almonds (just one handful has about 75 mg)
- Brazil nuts
- Collard greens
Thinking about adding a magnesium supplement? Look for high quality ones that are well-absorbed by your body, including magnesium citrate and glycinate. If you can, avoid the cheaper and less bioavailable forms, including magnesium carbonate, sulfate, gluconate, and oxide.
Lastly, reduce your exposure to things that can lead to nutrient deficiency in order to protect what you’ve got and what you’re consuming – decrease stress, minimize your exposure to environmental toxins, and cut back on processed, sugary foods.