Magnesium and Insulin Resistance – Carolyn Dean MD ND


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One in three Americans—including half of those age 60 and older — have a silent blood sugar problem known as insulin resistance. Insulin resistance increases the risk for prediabetes, type 2 diabetes, and a host of other serious health problems, including heart attacks, strokes, Alzheimer’s and cancer.

Insulin resistance is when cells in your muscles, body fat, and liver start resisting or ignoring the signal that the hormone insulin is trying to send out. Insulin’s job is to open up receptor sites on cell membranes to allow the influx of glucose, the cell’s source of fuel. Cells that no longer respond to the advances of insulin and refuse the entry of glucose are called insulin-resistant. As a result, blood glucose levels rise and the body produces more and more insulin, to no avail. Glucose and insulin rampage throughout the body, causing tissue damage that results in overuse and wasting of magnesium, an increased risk of heart disease, and type 2 diabetes.

How do you know if you’re insulin resistant? Initially,  insulin resistance presents no symptoms. The symptoms only start to appear once it leads to secondary effects such as higher blood sugar levels. When this happens, the symptoms may include:

  • Lethargy (tiredness)
  • Hunger
  • Difficulty concentrating (brain fog)

Other signs that often appear in people with insulin resistance include:

One of the major reasons the cells don’t respond to insulin is lack of magnesium.  Studies do show that chronic insulin resistance in patients with type 2 diabetes is associated with a reduction of magnesium because magnesium is necessary to allow glucose to enter cells. Studies also confirm that when insulin is released from the pancreas, magnesium in the cell normally responds and opens the cell to allow entry of glucose, but in the case of magnesium deficiency combined with insulin resistance, the normal mechanisms just don’t work. However, the higher the levels of magnesium in the body, the greater the sensitivity of the cells to insulin and the higher the possibility of reversing the problem.

Those of you who are regular subscribers to Dr. Dean’s blogs and podcast know that magnesium is required in the metabolic pathways, such as the Krebs cycle, to allow insulin to usher glucose into cells, where glucose participates in making ATP energy for the body. If magnesium is deficient, the doorway into the cells does not open to glucose, resulting in the following events:

  1. Glucose levels become elevated.
  2. Glucose is stored as fat and leads to obesity.
  3. Elevated glucose leads to diabetes.
  4. Obesity puts a strain on the heart.
  5. Excess glucose becomes attached to certain proteins (the proteins become glycated), leading to kidney damage, neuropathy, blindness, and other diabetic complications.
  6. Insulin-resistant cells don’t allow magnesium into the cells.
  7. Further magnesium deficiency leads to hypertension.
  8. Magnesium deficiency leads to cholesterol buildup, and both these conditions are implicated in heart disease.

If you talk to most any doctor, they are going to tell you to get in some exercise and take Metformin. If you talk to our very own and most wonderful Dr. Carolyn Dean she’s going to tell you to take saturation doses of magnesium, and THEN get moving!


4 replies »

  1. I have hypertention and irregular heart beat so doctor gave me a high dose medicines for high blood pressure. Now i take magnesium glycinate
    400mg per day about one month my heart beat is
    now regular but blood pressure is still high.

  2. Hi, I’m not Diabetic yet, but my husband is and is on Metformin. And i desperately want him to get off of this. How would he go about it.

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