Magnesium is the 4th most prevalent mineral in the body and has been linked with numerous metabolic disorders, including hypertension and diabetes. In more recent years, dietary surveys have revealed that magnesium intake in the U.S. has been shown to be below recommended ranges.
Given the rapidly rising rates of diabetes and pre-diabetes (insulin resistance) there is wider interest in how magnesium aids the body in breaking down sugar in the blood, how it may help reduce the risk of insulin resistance and if supplementation may be a tool to delay or prevent the progression of disease.
The long-term therapeutic effect of magnesium has yet to be determined until large-scale studies are conducted. As a word of caution, high intakes of magnesium from dietary supplements can cause diarrhea, nausea, and abdominal cramping and excessive intakes of magnesium can lead to irregular heartbeat and cardiac arrest so magnesium supplementation is not advised, unless recommended by a health care provider.
Below are five benefits of magnesium, although there are more than just five! If you are interested in learning more about the benefits of magnesium, please contact your primary care physician.
- Bone Health: Magnesium is necessary to convert Vitamin D into its active form so that it can turn on calcium absorption. Researchers have found that people with high magnesium intakes have greater bone density, and that women with osteoporosis tend to have low magnesium levels.
- Heart Health: Magnesium is essential for the activity of heart muscle and nerves that initiate the heartbeat, and it helps regulate blood pressure. Also helps prevent arrhythmias, reduce cardiac damage from oxidative stress, keep blood vessels healthy, and prevent spasms of coronary arteries that can cause angina. So it makes sense that many observational studies have found that people with a high intake of magnesium have a lower risk of heart disease and stroke – or that people who live in areas with hard water (which is high in magnesium) have a lower coronary death rate.
- Energy Production, Carbohydrate Metabolism and Diabetes: Magnesium essential for the body’s use of insulin and the burning of carbohydrates. Observational studies have linked low magnesium levels to increased risk of diabetes and insulin resistance (which often leads to type 2 diabetes), as well as poor blood sugar control in people with the disease. Several studies of magnesium supplements in people with diabetes have had positive results.
- Depression: Magnesium is a precursor for neurotransmitters like serotonin. There are a number of studies linking magnesium to mental health and the stress response system.
- Immune Boosting: Magnesium increases the activity of the immune system involved in the formation of antibodies and acts on cells to strengthen their protective membrane, helping to protect them from attacks (microbes, bacteria, viruses and free radicals.) May also have an anti-inflammatory role.
*Research is ongoing and mechanisms by which magnesium intake or deficiency exerts these effects are not definitive.
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