Magnesium: A Mineral that Matters

By: Dr. Linda Anegawa

You may know magnesium as a mineral that is important for the function of all our muscles:  low magnesium levels may cause painful cramps in our arms and legs, particularly after we’ve done very intense exercise.  Magnesium is also critical for the function of our heart muscle, and when our levels get too low, serious arrhythmias may result.

Magnesium is also critical for over 300 other metabolic and enzymatic reactions in the body.   The relationship of magnesium to blood sugar levels in particular, is an area of active study.  As a part of glucose metabolism in the blood, magnesium  drives many of the reactions in the process of breaking down blood sugar.    Magnesium deficiency is known to aggravate insulin resistance, because without magnesium, more insulin is required to metabolize blood sugar.  The pancreas pumps out more insulin, driving fat storage and increased hunger, leading to increased food intake.   The result of all this is, when an individual is insulin resistant to begin with, the presence of low magnesium levels can feed an ongoing viscious cycle of worsening insulin resistance.

Some smaller studies have shown that giving individuals who are insulin resistant magnesium supplements improves insulin sensitivity and improves blood sugar control.  Whether magnesium can outright prevent diabetes or cause weight loss on its own is not completely clear.  While they don’t quite recommend supplements to prevent diabetes, the American Diabetes Association recommends that all diabetics consume increased quantities of magnesium-rich foods.  These include vegetables and legumes, for example.

If you are an Ideal Protein Phase 1 dieter, you may know that you are eating a diet rich in magnesium (think Select Veggies!).  You will also take additional magnesium as part of both the Multivitamin and the Cal-Mag supplement.  This extra magnesium boost is not only important for all the reasons above.  During nutritional ketosis, the increased urination means you will lose extra water-soluble minerals including Magnesium.  So remember the importance of this vital mineral.  You’ll be doing your muscles and your heart a favor, and maybe even putting a damper on the cycle of metabolic syndrome that had previously blocked your weight loss efforts.

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