Newsletter #210 - Magnesium and Metabolic Health
Hey guys! This week, I decided to take a look at the link between magnesium and blood sugar metabolism. Magnesium is an important co-factor in carbohydrate metabolism, and intracellular magnesium appears to play a role in the regulation of insulin action as well as insulin secretion from beta cells. So, it makes sense that a number of studies have suggested that magnesium in the diet seems to be associated with lower risk of metabolic syndrome and diabetes.
This is also worth paying attention to because research has shown that around half of Americans do not meet the recommended daily intake for magnesium (and that’s even including supplements), and it has been reported that magnesium content has been declining in commonly consumed foods over the past few decades due to changes in farming practices. So many, if not most of us, probably have some room for improvement here!
This Week's Research Highlights
🥬 High magnesium intake is associated with lower risk of components of metabolic syndrome.
Researchers in China analyzed food consumption data from 6104 participants, who did not have metabolic syndrome at the start of the study. Over an average follow-up of six years, those in the highest quintile of dietary magnesium intake had a 16% lower risk of going on to develop metabolic syndrome. But metabolic syndrome is actually a cluster of different conditions. When the researchers looked at these components individually, they found that higher magnesium intake was linked to an 18% lower risk of abdominal obesity, 41% lower risk of elevated triglycerides, 20% lower risk of high blood pressure, and 42% lower risk of elevated blood sugar.
🌱 People with more magnesium in their diet are substantially less likely to develop type 2 diabetes.
Researchers collected dietary data at three intervals from a group of about 4500 Americans, aged 18-30, who did not have diabetes at baseline. Subjects were followed for twenty years. After adjusting for potential confounders, they found that individuals in the highest quintile of magnesium intake were 47% less likely to go on to develop type 2 diabetes, compared to those in the lowest quintile. Notably, magnesium intake was also associated with lower biomarkers of inflammation, including hsCRP, and better insulin sensitivity (measured via HOMA-IR).
⚕️ Supplementation with magnesium improves blood pressure and glucose control in people with metabolic syndrome.
Okay, we see that consuming a diet rich in magnesium lowers your risk of developing metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes. But can adding in magnesium help people who already have compromised metabolic health? The research is less clear on this, but there is some promising stuff out there. In this study, researchers recruited 24 participants who had been diagnosed with metabolic syndrome and whose serum levels of magnesium were normal. Patients were randomly assigned to take either placebo or 400 mg of magnesium citrate for 12 weeks. At the end of the study, the magnesium group showed a dramatic improvement in their blood pressure (from a baseline of 145/85 mmHg all the way down to 121/79 mmHg), as well as a significant improvement in their HbA1c (from 6.43% to 6.15%).
Random Trivia & Weird News
🦌 COVID-19 seems to be rampant among white-tailed deer in North America.
When researchers in Iowa and Ohio tested local white-tailed deer, they found that around a third of the animals tested positive. These findings mirror an earlier study, which found that 40% of deer that had been tested in the Midwest had antibodies for the virus.
It doesn’t seem to be particularly harmful to the deer themselves, fortunately, but the presence of a reservoir of the coronavirus in such a common animal could obviously be a problem. Definitely something to monitor.
Podcasts We Loved This Week
- Jennifer DuBois: Enzymes are taking on our plastic problem. Via Science Friday.
- Alan Flanagan & Danny Lennon: GMOs & genetic engineering - Harmless or health hazard? Via Sigma Nutrition Radio.
Products We Are Enjoying
There is some research suggesting that the current recommended intake for magnesium could be too low for optimal health, at least in some populations.
For instance, several studies found that people meeting the recommended intakes of magnesium were more likely to show elevated systemic inflammation, high blood pressure, and features of metabolic syndrome, compared to individuals who were consuming in excess of the current estimated requirements.
If you’d like to err on the side of caution and get a little more magnesium, this is a supplement that I have used and seems like a solid choice. It’s a reliable brand, inexpensive, and it uses the citrate form, which is absorbed better than magnesium oxide. As an added bonus, lots of folks report that magnesium supplementation seems to help them get good sleep, so I think it’s worth a try!
humanOS Catalog Feature of the Week
Optimizing Nutrition with Smoothies
This week, we’d like to highlight our course on smoothies and phytochemicals. One thing to keep in mind, when talking about the impact of ultra-processed food, is that altering the structure of food isn’t necessarily a bad thing per se. In fact, certain forms of processing can actually enhance the health-promoting properties of whole foods in some cases. Smoothies are a great example. For instance, a recent study found that an apple and blueberry smoothie elicited a reduced glycemic response compared to an equal portion of whole apples and blueberries!
The course takes a deep dive into phytochemicals in plants, where they are found, their powerful health effects, and how intelligently-devised smoothies can help optimize our intake of these compounds. For more practical information on using smoothies to enhance nutrition, please refer to our How-to Guide for smoothies.
Thanks for reading, and we'll see y'all next week!