Magnesium Deficiency and Health
Magnesium deficiency can cause important health issues
According to a new study in Pharmacological Research, researchers have demonstrated that magnesium (Mg) supplementation significantly improves important health markers. Published last month, this study showed the link between magnesium levels and HOMA-IR index and fasting glucose. However, magnesium deficiency is a growing health concern in a large proportion of the population.
Over the past several decades diabetes has become a growing epidemic. Currently more than 50% of Americans suffer from magnesium deficiency. I cannot emphasis enough the importance of this deficiency as a serious health problem. Magnesium plays a key role in more than 350 enzymes in the body. It is involved in virtually every metabolic process. It is the second most abundant intracellular cation and a cofactor involved in the modulation of glucose transport as well. A magnesium deficiency interferes with the tyrosine-kinase activity of the insulin receptor. A deficiency also increases calcium concentration within the cell, which is associated with impaired insulin sensitivity. Hence, it makes sense that a deficiency could play a significant role in the development of insulin resistance, as well as metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes.
This recent review consisted of 1,362 individuals from 21 RCTs including 684 and 678 individuals into the supplement and control groups from studies published between 1992 and 2015. The range of supplementation was from 1 to 6 months and the doses ranged from 300 mg to 600 mg of Mg per day. The impact of supplementation on plasma concentrations of glucose, HbA1c and insulin, and HOMA-IR were assessed.
The results of the meta-analysis demonstrated that supplementation for greater than 3 months significantly improves the HOMA-IR index as well as fasting glucose in both diabetic and non-diabetic individuals.
How Much Magnesium Do We Really Need?
With this in mind, the question is: how much magnesium is enough? Unfortunately, we do not have a great way to measure its status. For example, serum magnesium represents only 1% of the body’s stores. Magnesium is homeostatically controlled in the serum and measuring serum Mg levels provides many false negatives. By the time serum magnesium levels are low, a person is very deficient as the body cannot maintain the serum Mg levels. Looking at serum magnesium is not the answer. Red blood cell magnesium is definitely a better indicator of Mg status. In addition, it can be tested by most labs and all functional medicine labs. I test RBC magnesium levels on all my patients. It’s surprising to see the large number of patients who are deficient.
Guest blog by Michael Jurgelewicz, DC, DACBN, DCBCN, CNS