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Intake of magnesium associated with improvements in blood sugar, insulin sensitivity in meta-analysis

Magnesium intake may help improve blood sugar (glucose) metabolism among people with diabetes and those who are at high risk of developing the disease, according to findings from a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials reported on November 15, 2021 in the journal Nutrients.1  

Authors Nicola Veronese and colleagues remarked that magnesium may improve glucose metabolism and insulin sensitivity by several mechanisms. “Magnesium [intake] appears to have a beneficial role and improves glucose parameters in people with diabetes,” the authors concluded. “Moreover, our work indicates that magnesium [intake] may improve insulin-sensitivity parameters in those at high risk of diabetes.”

Their research suggests that magnesium intake may boost glucose utilization by the cells, particularly in those who have not developed full-fledged diabetes. Studies have also indicated that magnesium decreases factors that contribute to insulin resistance, including oxidative stress and inflammation.

The mineral additionally may support a healthy body composition and lipid levels, general health, sleep quality and muscle metabolism, all of which can influence blood glucose control.

For the meta-analysis, the researchers selected 13 randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trials that evaluated magnesium’s effects on glucose metabolism among male and female diabetics. Twelve trials were additionally selected that evaluated magnesium among participants at high risk of developing the disease. Conditions that categorized participants as having a high risk of diabetes included being overweight, or having prediabetes, metabolic syndrome or other disorders.

Compared to a placebo, intake of magnesium was associated with significantly lower fasting plasma glucose levels in trials that included diabetic participants. In trials that included people at risk of diabetes, magnesium intake was not only significantly associated with lower fasting plasma glucose compared to a placebo but was also associated with improved insulin resistance and 2-hour oral glucose tolerance, a parameter that assesses the body’s ability to metabolize and use glucose.

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Apply What You've Learned: Magnesium

  • Magnesium is an essential mineral—and unfortunately, most of us don’t get enough of it. Good sources of magnesium to include in the diet are leafy green vegetables, legumes, nuts and whole grains. However, the magnesium content of food sources is declining, recent research indicates.2
  • Intake of magnesium can help make up for dietary insufficiency. Different forms of magnesium are available as nutritional supplements, including magnesium L-threonate, magnesium oxide, magnesium citrate, magnesium succinate, magnesium carbonate and more.
  • Magnesium threonate is a form of magnesium that is well absorbed by the brain.3 This makes it a great choice to support brain health and healthy cognitive function.4,5
  • Periodic evaluation of red blood cell (RBC) and serum magnesium concentrations can help guide the level of magnesium needed to maintain healthy levels of the mineral.6

References

  1. Veronese N, et al. Nutrients. 2021 Nov 15;13(11):4074.
  2. Guerrera MP, et al. Am Fam Physician. 2009 Jul 15;80(2):157-62.
  3. Slutsky I, et al. Neuron. 2010;65(2):165-77.
  4. Liu G et al. J Alzheimers Dis. 2016 Jan 1;49(4):971-90.
  5. Surman C, et al. J Diet Suppl. 2021;18(2):119-131.
  6. Witkowski M et al. Magnes Res. 2011 Dec;24(4):163-80.

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