I love magnesium. As a supplement, it’s one of the few I’d recommend to probably just about anyone. It’s not too pricey and it has a host of benefits to both the athlete and the non-athlete alike. I personally take it to help with sleep. In fact, it’s the ‘M’ in ZMA that causes everyone to exclaim how good their sleep is and how vivid their dreams become when on that supplement. If you take ZMA to help with sleep, you can cut out the extras and the expense and just get a magnesium supplement. I suggest a powdered form like Natural Calm. But improved sleep isn’t the only thing – magnesium has a host of other benefits, as well.
In a recent study in The Journal of Nutrition, researchers looked at over 52,000 people with no known history of diabetes to see how magnesium affected blood sugar. What they discovered was simple: a higher intake of magnesium resulted in lower fasting blood sugar and lower fasting insulin levels. However, as simple as the result is, the effects are profound.
First, this would be a major advantage for those looking to get lean. If you’re having trouble with that last bit of fat or just getting started with your weight loss the most important thing you need to know is that low insulin is to your benefit. When your insulin levels go up, even a little bit, it dramatically curbs the utilization of fat for fuel. Anything that brings down your insulin a little, especially your fasting insulin as in this case, will be a major benefit to you. Now when I say “fasting insulin” I mean essentially any time it’s been longer than three hours since you last ate. In other words, even while you sleep magnesium will help ensure more stable blood sugar and a better balance of fuel utilization.
There’s also a popular trend in nutrition right now called intermittent fasting. This is the practice of fasting for a period of time on a weekly or even daily basis. The blood sugar lowering and stabilizing effect of magnesium will not only help a person fasting to realize better long term balance in their blood sugar, but also more energy when it comes time to be active. The reduced blood sugar will likely spare your glycogen stores for when you really need them, creating a preference for fat as a source of fuel. This might even have the benefit of increasing aerobic enzymes, thus improving your cardio ability. That last bit is my own personal conjecture, but in my experience this seems to be true.
I would only be concerned for someone suffering from hypoglycemia, which is not covered in this study. However, I’d wager that magnesium doesn’t just lower blood sugar in healthy people, but may also help keep it steady and balanced for someone suffering from hypoglycemia who hasn’t been able to eat in a while.
If you haven’t taken a magnesium supplement or focused on getting an adequate supply in your diet, this should be your wake-up call. It’s an important nutrient with numerous health benefits.
1. Adela Hruby, et.al., “Higher Magnesium Intake Is Associated with Lower Fasting Glucose and Insulin, with No Evidence of Interaction with Select Genetic Loci, in a Meta-Analysis of 15 CHARGE Consortium Studies,” The Journal of Nutrition, 143:3 (2013)
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