The Magnesium-Blood Sugar Connection You Need To Know About
Dr. Bindiya Gandhi is an American Board Family Medicine–certified physician who completed her family medicine training at Georgia Regents University/Medical College of Georgia June 2014. She completed an integrative medicine fellowship at the University of Arizona with Dr. Andrew Weil, and she is also working on her functional medicine training with the Institute of Functional Medicine.
Magnesium is an essential mineral, important for more 300 enzyme systems in the body that play a massive role in our health and physiology. These reactions are part of important bodily functions like blood sugar regulation, blood pressure regulation, and protein synthesis. Magnesium regulates calcium levels, contracts smooth muscle, and is also needed to activate many enzymes in the body that are needed during various metabolic cycles.
Knowing all this, it makes sense that magnesium is a common supplement I recommend to many patients. I do so for numerous reasons, including improving migraine headaches and helping with sleep, anxiety, neuropathy, muscle cramps, and constipation. Magnesium is also great for improving blood pressure and prevents preeclampsia in pregnant women. Magnesium also helps the smooth muscle contract in menstruating women and decreasing pain and bloating during cycles according to a 2013 study in the Journal of Caring Sciences
The magnesium-weight loss connection you need to know about.
When it comes to maintaining a healthy weight, magnesium might be an important tool you have at your disposal. Research, including a 2013 study in the Journal of Nutrition, has shown that magnesium helps improve insulin resistance and can help control blood sugar in patients with diabetes. High doses of magnesium will improve insulin production. And while it may not necessarily directly help with weight loss and decrease fat, it does improve GI bloating, improving water retention, and promotes healthy elimination, which are all great for the waistline.
As an added bonus, magnesium can help improve stress levels and promotes healthy sleeping patterns, which can be a major cause for weight gain. Improving stress levels and sleep quality will help decrease cortisol levels and encourage healthy weight loss, combined with a healthy diet and moderate exercise. This is especially important since cortisol weight tends to be held in the stomach and can be famously difficult to get rid of.
How to start increasing magnesium levels for a healthy weight.
The good news is that magnesium is naturally found in many foods, including dark chocolate, nuts (especially almonds, cashews, brazil nuts), seeds (especially sesame and pumpkin seeds,) legumes, tofu, dark greens (like spinach, kale, Swiss chard, collard greens). I always encourage patients to try to get as much magnesium through their diet as possible. That said, taking a supplement in the form of a capsule, powder, or topical magnesium oil or cream—or Epsom salt baths—is also needed sometimes.
There are many forms of magnesium, and not all of them are great for your stomach, as some instantly cause diarrhea. In fact, magnesium oxide and magnesium citrate have reliable enough laxative effects that they are actually recommended by many doctors as treatments for constipation. I recommend magnesium glycinate because it has higher bioavailability and is gentle on your stomach, unlike other forms of magnesium. A good healthy starting dose of magnesium glycinate is 200 milligrams at night. You can slowly increase your dose as your body will tolerate (if you start getting diarrhea, that's a sign that the dose is too much for your body, and you need to back down). I encourage patients to slowly increase their dose until they are at around 400 milligrams.
Knowing magnesium's many roles in the body, it's no surprise that it could help you support healthy blood sugar balance and weight management, especially by way of decreasing cortisol and helping your body become more resilient in the face of stress.
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