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Magnesium levels are frequently low in those with metabolic syndrome

How Magnesium Helps Prevent Metabolic Syndrome

Magnesium levels are frequently low in those with metabolic syndrome. A review of clinical trials confirmed that oral magnesium intake improves clinical markers of metabolic syndrome including elevated blood sugar and insulin resistance.

Scientifically reviewed by: Amanda Martin, DC, in June 2024. Written by: Steve Page, OT/L, PHD, MS, MOT.

Roughly one in three adults in the U.S. has metabolic syndrome.1 This puts them at increased risk of heart disease, stroke, and type II diabetes.2

Few people even know they have it. To be diagnosed with metabolic syndrome, individuals must have at least three of the following conditions:

Here's the good news: Research shows that oral intake of magnesium may be a helpful tool in managing the conditions that make up metabolic syndrome. However, 45% of people in the United States are deficient in dietary magnesium.3

In human studies, magnesium intake:

  • Improves blood sugar levels and insulin resistance,4-6
  • Reduces elevated blood pressure,5
  • Lowers markers of dangerous inflammation,5
  • Reduces triglycerides,7,8 and
  • Improves cholesterol levels.7,8

Dangers of Metabolic Syndrome

Metabolic syndrome has become a major public health concern. Up to a third of Americans already have it,9 and millions more are at a high risk with at least two of the three conditions that mark it.

Metabolic syndrome refers to a cluster of disorders including abdominal obesity, high blood pressure, low HDL cholesterol, high triglycerides and high blood sugar.1

That's a drastic problem. People with metabolic syndrome are at much higher risk for a multitude of chronic diseases, including cardiovascular disease, type II diabetes, stroke, fatty liver, and even some types of cancers.2

Moreover, while metabolic syndrome is very common in older adults,10 it is increasingly being seen at younger ages as well.11

When health care practitioners choose medical treatment for metabolic syndrome, that means they will be treating each contributing condition separately with medication, frequently resulting in a "cocktail" of medications. This may include drugs for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and additional medications for other conditions.2

However, the generally recommended first-line treatment targets lifestyle, including improving diet and engaging in regular exercise.2

But there's another factor that's often overlooked: ensuring adequate intake of magnesium.

Importance of Magnesium

Magnesium insufficiency and deficiency are contributors to metabolic disease, including type II diabetes.12,13 Magnesium is found in low concentrations in a variety of foods, including spinach, almonds, cashews, avocado, black beans, and pumpkin and chia seeds.14

Magnesium is required for the proper function of hundreds of enzymes that regulate protein synthesis, muscle and nerve function, and more.14

Magnesium has shown a remarkable ability to help prevent or reverse multiple risk factors for metabolic syndrome.

Combating Metabolic Syndrome

High blood sugar is a common condition seen in metabolic syndrome. Magnesium helps regulate blood sugar5,14 by binding to insulin receptor  proteins on cells, enabling glucose uptake.5 This reduces sugar in the bloodstream.15 Deficiency of magnesium negatively impacts these functions.

This may explain why people who consume more magnesium have lower incidences of type II diabetes.16,17 One meta-analysis of population studies including 637,922 people found that the risk of developing type II diabetes was reduced by as much as 13% for every 100 mg per day increase in magnesium intake.18

A review of controlled clinical trials confirmed that taking oral magnesium improves blood sugar levels and insulin resistance in those at high risk for type II diabetes.4

Human Studies Test Magnesium

In a clinical trial of individuals with prediabetes, participants were randomized to receive 382 mg of magnesium or placebo. After 4 months the group on magnesium supplementation had about 11.6% lower fasting blood glucose level, and a 8.8% decrease in post-meal glucose as compared to placebo group.19

In addition, magnesium helps relax the muscle cells in blood vesselwalls,20 reducing high blood pressure.21 Elevated blood pressure is another condition associated with metabolic syndrome and is a risk factor for stroke and early mortality.22

In a meta-analysis of 34 clinical trials, oral intake of magnesium (median dose: 368 mg daily) reduced systolic (top number) and diastolic blood pressure in a median time period of just three months.21

Obesity can cause low grade chronic inflammation.23 Inflammation and obesity are drivers of metabolic syndrome.24 Studies have shown an association between low magnesium intake with increased inflammation and increased risk of cardiovascular diseases, high blood pressure and type II diabetes. A meta-analysis of seven observational studies showed that dietary magnesium intake is inversely associated with C-reactive protein levels (a marker of inflammation).25

A meta-analysis of randomized-controlled trials showed that magnesium supplementation reduced C-reactive protein levels in individuals with elevated levels of this maker of inflammation.26

An additional large review found that taking oral magnesium improved multiple risk factors for heart disease and metabolic syndrome, including:27

  • Reducing fasting blood glucose levels,
  • Lowering triglyceride levels,
  • Reducing LDL (bad) cholesterol,
  • Increasing HDL (good) cholesterol, and
  • Lowering systolic blood pressure levels.

Given all these benefits, magnesium can be a helpful tool in managing metabolic syndrome.

Summary

Having metabolic syndrome increases the likelihood of developing type II diabetes, heart disease, strokes, and other chronic conditions. Magnesium levels are frequently low among those with metabolic syndrome and its risk factors.

Clinical studies show that oral intake of magnesium can help improve multiple conditions that make up metabolic syndrome, including abnormal blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol, and triglyceride levels.

If you have any questions on the scientific content of this article, please call a Life Extension Wellness Specialist at 1-866-864-3027.

What You Need to Know

Help Ward Off Metabolic Syndrome

  • Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of conditions that include a large waist circumference (indicating excess abdominal fat), elevated blood pressure, high blood sugar, low HDL cholesterol, and high triglycerides.
  • Having three or more of these conditions increases risk for heart disease, type II diabetes, stroke, and premature death.
  • Oral intake of the mineral magnesium can help prevent or reverse the conditions that make up metabolic syndrome.
  • In clinical studies, magnesium intake reduced high blood sugar and blood pressure, lowered triglycerides and markers of inflammation, and improved cholesterol levels.

References

  1. Available at: https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/metabolic-syndrome. Accessed May 20, 2024.
  2. Available at: https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/the-metabolic-syndrome. Accessed May 15, 2024.
  3. Workinger JL, Doyle RP, Bortz J. Challenges in the Diagnosis of Magnesium Status. Nutrients. 2018Sep 1;10(9).
  4. Veronese N, Watutantrige-Fernando S, Luchini C, et al. Effect of magnesium supplementation on glucose metabolism in people with or at risk of diabetes: a systematic review and meta-analysis of double-blind randomized controlled trials. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2016 Dec;70(12):1354-9.
  5. Grober U, Schmidt J, Kisters K. Magnesium in Prevention and Therapy. Nutrients. 2015Sep 23;7(9):8199-226.
  6. WA EL, Naser IA, Taleb MH, Abutair AS. The Effects of Oral Magnesium Supplementation on Glycemic Response among Type 2 Diabetes Patients. Nutrients. 2018 Dec 26;11(1).
  7. Asbaghi O, Moradi S, Nezamoleslami S, et al. The Effects of Magnesium Supplementation on Lipid Profile Among Type 2 Diabetes Patients: a Systematic Review and Meta-analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials. Biol Trace Elem Res. 2021 Mar;199(3):861-73.
  8. Salehidoost R, Taghipour Boroujeni G, Feizi A, et al. Effect of oral magnesium supplement on cardiometabolic markers in people with prediabetes: a double blind randomized controlled clinical trial. Sci Rep. 2022Oct 28;12(1):18209.
  9. Saklayen MG. The Global Epidemic of the Metabolic Syndrome. Curr Hypertens Rep. 2018 Feb 26;20(2):12.
  10. Aguilar M, Bhuket T, Torres S, et al. Prevalence of the metabolic syndrome in the United States, 2003-2012. JAMA. 2015 May 19;313(19):1973-4.
  11. Hirode G, Wong RJ. Trends in the Prevalence of Metabolic Syndrome in the United States, 2011-2016. JAMA. 2020 Jun 23;323(24):2526-8.
  12. Pelczynska M, Moszak M, Bogdanski P. The Role of Magnesium in the Pathogenesis of Metabolic Disorders. Nutrients. 2022 Apr 20;14(9).
  13. Piuri G, Zocchi M, Della Porta M, et al. Magnesium in Obesity, Metabolic Syndrome, and Type 2 Diabetes. Nutrients. 2021 Jan 22;13(2).
  14. Available at: https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Magnesium-HealthProfessional/#en22. Accessed September, 19, 2023.
  15. Hosseini Dastgerdi A, Ghanbari Rad M, Soltani N. The Therapeutic Effects of Magnesium in Insulin Secretion and Insulin Resistance. Adv Biomed Res. 2022;11:54.
  16. Dong JY, Xun P, He K, Qin LQ. Magnesium intake and risk of type 2 diabetes: meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies. Diabetes Care. 2011 Sep;34(9):2116-22.
  17. Hruby A, Meigs JB, O'Donnell CJ, et al. Higher magnesium intake reduces risk of impaired glucose and insulin metabolism and progression from prediabetes to diabetes in middle-aged americans. Diabetes Care. 2014 Feb;37(2):419-27.
  18. Fang X, Han H, Li M, et al. Dose-Response Relationship between Dietary Magnesium Intake and Risk of Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus: A Systematic Review and Meta-Regression Analysis of Prospective Cohort Studies. Nutrients. 2016Nov 19;8(11).
  19. Guerrero-Romero F, Simental-Mendía LE, Hernández-Ronquillo G, Rodriguez-Morán M. Oral magnesium supplementation improves glycaemic status in subjects with prediabetes and hypomagnesaemia: A double-blind placebo-controlled randomized trial. Diabetes Metab. 2015 Jun;41(3):202-7.
  20. Fiorentini D, Cappadone C, Farruggia G, Prata C. Magnesium: Biochemistry, Nutrition, Detection, and Social Impact of Diseases Linked to Its Deficiency. Nutrients. 2021 Mar 30;13(4).
  21. Zhang X, Li Y, Del Gobbo LC, et al. Effects of Magnesium Supplementation on Blood Pressure: A Meta-Analysis of Randomized Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Trials. Hypertension. 2016 Aug;68(2):324-33.
  22. Misgana S, Asemahagn MA, Atnafu DD, Anagaw TF. Incidence of stroke and its predictors among hypertensive patients in Felege Hiwot comprehensive specialized hospital, Bahir Dar, Ethiopia, a retrospective follow-up study. Eur J Med Res. 2023 Jul 10;28(1):227.
  23. Castro AM, Macedo-de la Concha LE, Pantoja-Meléndez CA. Low-grade inflammation and its relation to obesity and chronic degenerative diseases. Revista Médica del Hospital General de México. 2017 2017/04/01/;80(2):101-5.
  24. Reddy P, Lent-Schochet D, Ramakrishnan N, et al. Metabolic syndrome is an inflammatory disorder: A conspiracy between adipose tissue and phagocytes. Clin Chim Acta. 2019 Sep;496:35-44.
  25. Nielsen FH. Magnesium deficiency and increased inflammation: current perspectives. J Inflamm Res. 2018;11:25-34.
  26. Simental-Mendia LE, Sahebkar A, Rodriguez-Moran M, et al. Effect of Magnesium Supplementation on Plasma C-reactive Protein Concentrations: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials. Curr Pharm Des. 2017;23(31):4678-86.
  27. Verma H, Garg R. Effect of magnesium supplementation on type 2 diabetes associated cardiovascular risk factors: a systematic review and meta-analysis. J Hum Nutr Diet. 2017 Oct;30(5):621-33.