Many people suffer from insulin resistance that impairs the cellular uptake of glucose from the bloodstream. Insulin resistance typically causes untimely hunger or a craving for stimulants accompanied by fatigue, mood swings, tension, overweight, and numerous other problems that arise as a result of the cells producing too little energy. The condition increases the risk of type-2 diabetes, even among children. But how does magnesium affect our blood sugar levels, and how do we make sure to get enough of this nutrient?
Magnesium is one of the most abundant minerals in the human body. Magnesium, together with vitamin D and vitamin K, plays a vital role in bone health. Most of our magnesium is found inside the cells where it supports over 300 different enzymes that are important for the nervous system, muscles, digestion, and blood pressure. So far, science has identified 3,751 binding sites for magnesium in the body, which clearly suggests how many can wrong if we fail to get enough of the nutrient.
|There is a lot of focus on the need for calcium, yet the need for magnesium is overlooked. This has serious consequences for the risk of osteoporosis and lifestyle diseases such as insulin resistance and type-2 diabetes.|
Magnesium plays a vital role in the metabolism and insulin regulation
Carbohydrate from what we eat and drink gets broken down into glucose and serves as blood sugar. When our blood sugar rises the pancreas produces insulin, which is the hormone that channels sugar (glucose) into the cells. Chromium supports insulin in this action. However, several studies also show that magnesium plays a role, as this mineral has a key function in preventing insulin dysfunctions and type-2 diabetes.
A large Japanese study (the Hisayama study) that is published in Diabetic Medicine found that magnesium offers significant protection against type-2 diabetes among the common Japanese population. This turned out to be particularly true for insulin-resistant alcohol abusers. Another study, the Framingham Offspring Study, that monitored a group of people for a long period of time, also showed that higher magnesium intake improved insulin sensitivity and reduced the risk of type-2 diabetes. Several other studies demonstrate a similar tendency.
How does magnesium affect the sugar metabolism?
Magnesium supports two genes that control the glucose and insulin balance. Magnesium is involved in the activation of tyrosine kinase, an enzyme that is equipped with various on-off mechanisms that turn on or shut off numerous cellular functions and are necessary for the cellular insulin receptors.
A magnesium deficiency may reinforce itself in the case of insulin resistance
Insulin's primary tasks are to control blood sugar levels, to store magnesium inside the cells, and to store surplus calories in the form of fat. It is a known fact, however, that insulin-resistant people are unable to lower their blood sugar sufficiently because of the impaired glucose uptake in the cells. Also, these people have increased magnesium excretion in their urine. This leads to additional magnesium deficiency and may have widespread consequences for the countless metabolic processes that depend on magnesium.
Overweight children lack magnesium and are prone to type-2 diabetes
In a study that is published in Diabetes Care, researchers set out to investigate if overweight children were also magnesium-deficient, and if this was in any way related to the development of insulin resistance. They recruited 24 non-diabetic, overweight children and compared them with 24 children of normal weight that served as a control group. The researchers measured daily intake of dietary magnesium, blood levels of magnesium, and insulin sensitivity in both groups of children
It turned out that the children with normal weight had larger magnesium intake levels from the diet. Also, their blood samples revealed that they had significantly higher magnesium levels than the overweight children. Higher blood levels of magnesium were also heavily associated with increased insulin sensitivity.
Based on their findings, the researchers concluded that there is a relation between magnesium deficiency and childhood insulin resistance. Also, they point to higher magnesium intake from the diet or supplements as an important tool for preventing insulin resistance and type-2 diabetes in overweight children.
Magnesium sources and widespread deficiency
Magnesium is primarily found in seeds, almonds, nuts, whole-grain, cabbage, and other compact vegetables. An estimated 80 per cent of the American population is magnesium-deficient. Evidence suggests that the situation is the same in Europe. A magnesium deficiency is often a result of eating an unbalanced diet with too many refined foods. Magnesium should be carefully balanced with calcium, and too much calcium from dairy products and supplements leads to poor magnesium utilization. The same is the case with a large consumption of alcohol and other stimulants, just like diuretics and stress also tend to deplete the body of this vital mineral. As mentioned earlier, insulin resistance leaches magnesium from the body, and a combination of several of the above mentioned factors often enhances the problem.
How much magnesium do we need?
The dietary reference intake for magnesium is somewhere in the range of 300-400 milligrams per day, but many experts believe it should be at least 500 mg, which is what most people got from their diets before the industrialization.
It is, of course, best to cover your need for magnesium by eating a nutritious and balanced diet. However, people with insulin resistance or type-2 diabetes or with other conditions that call for a higher intake may benefit from taking a high-quality magnesium supplement, which the body is able to absorb and utilize.
Fight the underlying cause of insulin resistance and diabetes by means of a healthy diet and lifestyle
Type-2 diabetics have impaired sensitivity towards insulin and leptin, which is a satiety hormone. In order to prevent this serious condition one has to get plenty of magnesium and chromium. Also, it is vital to consume coarse, green, and protein-rich main meals that stabilize the blood sugar levels. In addition, it is important to limit one's intake of refined carbohydrates such as white flour and sugar plus fructose and even to include plenty of exercise and physical activity in one's daily program.
Did you know that regular multivitamin pills do not meet the dietary reference intake for magnesium because that amount is too large to fit in a small pill?
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