Magnesium supplements may help blood sugar management for pre-diabetics: RCT

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

Image: © iStockPhoto / sasimoto
Image: © iStockPhoto / sasimoto

Related tags Blood sugar

Magnesium chloride supplements may lower blood sugar levels and counter insulin resistance, says a new study from Mexico.

Data from a randomized double-blind placebo-controlled trial of 116 men and non-pregnant women indicated that 50% of the people in the magnesium chloride group improved their glucose status, compared with only 7% in the placebo group.

“Our results support the hypothesis that oral magnesium supplementation improves the glycaemic status of individuals with prediabetes and hypomagnesaemia, a finding that may be of interest in the planning of public-health strategies focused on decreasing diabetes incidence,”​ wrote the researchers in Diabetes & Metabolism​.

‘Necessary for over 300 biochemical reactions’

The findings are particularly important because a large proportion of the US population is not making the recommendations for this essential nutrient. According to NHANES data, 60% of Americans are not hitting the Institute of Medicine’s intake recommendations for magnesium.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) lists magnesium as being necessary for more than 300 biochemical reactions in the body, from helping maintain normal muscle and nerve function, to keeping heart rhythm steady, supporting a healthy immune system, and keeping bones strong. The mineral is also needed for blood sugar management, and healthy blood pressure.

In Europe, the difficult to please European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has issued positive opinions on magnesium and the maintenance of normal bone, teeth, and protein synthesis; the reduction of tiredness and fatigue; electrolyte balance; normal energy-yielding metabolism; neurotransmission, and muscle contraction.

Study details

Scientists from the Biomedical Research Unit of the Mexican Social Security at the Institute at Durango in Mexico recruited 116 pre-diabetic men and women aged between 30 and 65 and randomly assigned them to daily solutions of magnesium chloride (giving daily magnesium doses of 382 mg) or placebo for four months.

Results showed that, compared with placebo, the magnesium chloride group displayed significant reductions in fasting and post-meal blood glucose levels, while insulin resistance (estimated using the homeostasis model; HOMA-IR) also decreased.

The magnesium intervention was also associated with reductions in triglyceride levels, and increases in HDL cholesterol levels, said the researchers.

“[O]ur present results demonstrate the efficacy and safety of magnesium supplementation in the reduction of plasma glucose levels and in the improvement of glycaemic status of pre-diabetic individuals who have low serum magnesium levels,” ​they concluded.

blood sugar test
"Our results support the hypothesis that, as a complement to lifestyle interventional programmes, people with prediabetes and hypomagnesaemia also should take magnesium supplements to decrease plasma glucose levels and potentially reduce the transition rate from pre-diabetes to diabetes," wrote the researchers


Pre-diabetes (also referred to as impaired glucose regulation) is a pre-diabetic state where either impaired glucose tolerance (IGT) and/or impaired fasting glucose (IFG) have been identified in a person, but there is no diagnosis of full (or overt) type 2 diabetes.

It has been repeatedly shown that those with pre-diabetes are significantly more likely to develop full type 2 diabetes, than those with normal blood glucose levels – with estimates of one year profession suggesting that those with isolated IGT have over five times the risk, those with isolated IFG have seven times the risk and those with both IGT and IFG have over 12 times the risk compared to people with normal blood sugar.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), type 2 diabetes affects over 220 million people globally and the consequences of high blood sugar kill 3.4 million every year.

In addition, it is projected that by 2025 there will be 380 million people with type 2 diabetes and another 418 million people with impaired glucose tolerance – a pre-diabetic state. While by 2035 it is expected that 471 million people, equating to 8% of the adult population of the world, will be classed as pre-diabetic.

Source: Diabetes & Metabolism
Volume 41, Issue 3, Pages 202–207, doi: 10.1016/j.diabet.2015.03.010
“Oral magnesium supplementation improves glycaemic status in subjects with prediabetes and hypomagnesaemia: A double-blind placebo-controlled randomized trial”
Authors: F. Guerrero-Romero, L.E. Simental-Mendia, G. Hernandez-Ronquillo, M. Rodriguez-Moran

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