The endocrine system, a network of glands and hormones, plays a critical role in regulating a myriad of physiological processes in our body, from metabolism to growth, from sleep to stress response. Like many systems in the body, the endocrine system relies on essential minerals for its optimal function, including magnesium and its direct role in supporting the system's optimal functioning.
Listen as Carolyn Dean MD ND discusses endocrine system function, magnesium deficiency, and how more healthcare professionals are suggesting magnesium supplementation to address and balance insulin in the body.
Magnesium and Glucose Metabolism
Magnesium's role in the body to support health blood sugar levels has been extensively studied and proven. In this 2017 study, a team of researchers focused on magnesium supplementation while watching glucose and insulin-sensitivity parameters in test subjects. The study used 12 people that have diabetes and six people who were high-risk. Magnesium supplementation reduced the fasting plasma glucose in those with diabetes and those who were high-risk. Magnesium also demonstrated level reductions in insulin resistance.
At the end of the study, it was concluded that “Mg supplementation appears to have a beneficial role and improves glucose parameters in people with diabetes and also improves insulin-sensitivity parameters in those at high risk of diabetes.”
This is one of many studies demonstrating the magnesium benefits for supporting healthy blood sugar levels. Even the American Diabetes Association posted a study of 63 subjects that have type 2 diabetes. This research showed that those taking the magnesium supplement presented lower insulin-resistance numbers and better fasting glucose levels than the control subjects. It was concluded that “oral supplementation with MgCl2 solution restores serum magnesium levels, improving insulin sensitivity and metabolic control in type 2 diabetic patients with decreased serum magnesium levels.”
Magnesium for Endocrine System Health
From ensuring proper sleep rhythms to supporting metabolic and reproductive health, magnesium's influence on the endocrine system is profound. These are some common examples that people should know:
The Pineal Gland
- Structure: A small, pea-sized gland located in the middle of the brain
- Function: Primarily produces melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep-wake cycles
Magnesium helps regulate the synthesis of melatonin. Adequate magnesium levels are associated with improved sleep quality, potentially due to its role in melatonin production.
The Thyroid Gland
- Structure: A butterfly-shaped gland located at the base of the neck
- Function: Produces thyroid hormones that regulate metabolism, energy, and temperature
Magnesium deficiency has been linked to decreased thyroid hormone levels. Proper magnesium levels can support the optimal functioning of the thyroid.
The Parathyroid Glands
- Structure: Four tiny glands located on the posterior surface of the thyroid gland
- Function: They secrete parathyroid hormone which helps control calcium levels in the blood
Magnesium influences the secretion of parathyroid hormone. Extremely low or high levels of magnesium can impact PTH secretion, thus influencing calcium metabolism.
The Adrenal Glands
- Structure: Located on top of each kidney, they consist of an outer cortex and an inner medulla
- Function: Produce hormones like cortisol (stress hormone) and aldosterone (helps regulate blood pressure)
Stress, a major stimulator of cortisol, can be modulated by magnesium. Adequate magnesium intake can help in stress management, thereby supporting adrenal health.
- Structure: A long gland located behind the stomach
- Function: Produces digestive enzymes and hormones like insulin (lowers blood sugar) and glucagon (raises blood sugar)
Magnesium has been shown to play a role in insulin sensitivity. Deficiency can lead to impaired insulin function, potentially contributing to conditions like type 2 diabetes.
The Ovaries and Testes
- Structure: The reproductive glands; ovaries in females and testes in males
- Function: Production of sex hormones and gametes
Magnesium is critical for the synthesis and function of reproductive hormones. It can influence testosterone levels in men and progesterone levels in women, thereby playing a role in reproductive health./p>
Side Effects and Risks
Answering the question, is magnesium good for glucose metabolism isn’t a simple yes or no. Whether you’re diabetic or not, it’s essential to only take the amount of magnesium you need. Otherwise, you might face some side effects and various risks. For some people, taking magnesium can lead to a laxative effect. This reaction is minimized when taking liquid magnesium with a high absorption rate.
For people who can’t tolerate taking oral supplements, it’s often better to choose a topical cream instead. When you start any new lotion, you want to test it on the skin in a small area first to ensure you won’t suffer from skin irritation.