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Can Magnesium Supplements Interfere With Proper Blood Sugar Levels?

By Sylvie Tremblay, MSc ; Updated August 14, 2017

Blood sugar plays an important role in your health, because cells take up and utilize this sugar as a source of energy. Blood sugar regulation in your body ensures that you do not develop abnormally high or low blood sugar, which can damage your tissues or deprive your cells of energy, respectively. Magnesium is one of several factors in blood sugar regulation. Taking magnesium supplements in moderation might have a beneficial effect on your blood sugar levels, though it might interfere with blood sugar control in some individuals.

Magnesium and Blood Sugar

Magnesium in your body helps maintain proper blood sugar levels by regulating the action of insulin, a hormone that lowers your blood sugar. Insulin in your bloodstream binds to specialized proteins on the surface of your cells, activating these proteins and triggering the uptake of glucose from your bloodstream. A study published in "Molecular Aspects of Medicine" in 2003 indicates that magnesium might play a role in activating insulin-sensing proteins and regulating blood sugar. Magnesium supplements can help prevent magnesium deficiency, helping to ensure that your cells contain enough magnesium to be able to respond to insulin.

Magnesium in Diabetes

Due to its role in promoting proper insulin signalling, magnesium supplements taken under medical supervision might benefit individuals with type 2 diabetes -- a disease characterized by an inability to respond to insulin. Individuals with diabetes might face an increased risk for magnesium deficiency, according to a study published in "Clinical Nutrition" in 2011, because of the abnormal kidney function experienced by many diabetics. Increasing magnesium intake, through food or through supplements, might help maintain healthy magnesium levels in the body and help improve blood sugar control in type 2 diabetics.

Dangers of Magnesium for Blood Sugar Regulation

Always consult your doctor before taking magnesium supplements, especially if you already suffer from an underlying disease or disorder, like type 2 diabetes. In addition to the risk of magnesium overdose from taking supplements, magnesium supplements might interact with pharmaceuticals. These interactions might negatively affect your blood sugar levels -- for example, magnesium might prevent the absorption of some blood sugar-controlling medications, leading to a deregulation of your blood sugar levels, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Your physician can recommend a treatment strategy that allows you to reap the benefits of magnesium supplementation without the risk of abnormal blood sugar levels.

Further Considerations

While magnesium supports your body's ability to control your blood sugar levels, taking too much magnesium from supplements might prove harmful. Magnesium overdose can cause digestive upset, such as diarrhea, which can disrupt your body's fluid balance. Magnesium overdose might prove particularly harmful for individuals with diabetes, since too much magnesium can further impede kidney function. You should not consume a total of more than 350 micrograms of magnesium daily from supplements, according to the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University. Dietary magnesium, obtained from food, does not pose a health risk.

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