By Charles Poliquin
Take magnesium to improve insulin sensitivity and body composition. New research shows that even if you aren’t deficient in magnesium, a little extra can act as a natural “insulin sensitizer,” making your cells more receptive to insulin and improving energy use in the body.
Magnesium is the mineral of insulin sensitivity because it exerts direct positive effects on the insulin receptors in each cell in the body. Magnesium also enhances activity of enzymes involved in the body’s use of blood sugar and it regulates calcium, helping to avoid calcium overload, which causes inflammation. Finally, magnesium is a general anti-inflammatory, directly affecting oxidative stress in the blood vessels and cardiovascular system.
And magnesium stands up to clinical tests: A new randomized study performed on overweight people who did not have low magnesium found that giving them 365 mg of magnesium daily for 6 months significantly improved insulin sensitivity and glucose tolerance. The participants had lower fasting glucose and blood pressure was reduced a significant amount (systolic by 6 mm Hg and diastolic by 4 mm Hg) at the end of the study.
Even though the participants had “normal” magnesium as measured by blood serum, researchers note that this method is not ideal for assessing magnesium status. Rather, a test for red blood cell magnesium is necessary, and although these participants weren’t deficient, researchers suggest that it’s possible current reference values are not effective for identifying optimal magnesium levels for insulin sensitivity. It’s also possible that people who have a degree of insulin resistance need extra magnesium for some reason.
Additional reasons to make sure you are getting enough magnesium include the following:
• Magnesium is necessary for optimal testosterone production.
• It can help you sleep better by calming the sympathetic nervous system.
• It is needed for optimal brain function and mental focus.
• Magnesium must be present for vitamin D to function in the body and this relationship is thought to be one reason why magnesium is so important for body composition.
• It is necessary for athletic performance because it plays a primary role in muscle contractions.
To read about magnesium supplementation, check out How I Replenish Magnesium Levels.
Mooren, F., et al. Oral Magnesium Supplementation Reduces Insulin Resistance in Non-Diabetic Subjects—A RCT. Diabetes, Obesity, and Metabolism. 2011. 13(3), 281-284.
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