When you think of weight loss supplements, magnesium isn't what usually comes to mind. Yet magnesium may be exactly what's needed to shed those extra pounds. Many people who are obese have magnesium deficiencies. Although more scientific studies need to be done, it's possible magnesium supplements and food sources of magnesium such as almonds may contribute to healthy weight loss.
Magnesium appears throughout your body, half in your bones and half in your organs and cells. Magnesium plays a role in carbohydrate metabolism. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) reports that "Magnesium is needed for more than 300 biochemical reactions in the body. It helps maintain normal muscle and nerve function, keeps heart rhythm steady, supports a healthy immune system, and keeps bones strong. Magnesium also helps regulate blood sugar levels, promotes normal blood pressure, and is known to be involved in energy metabolism and protein synthesis."
Eating highly processed foods along with sugar and fats can lead to both obesity and a magnesium deficiency, mainly because most of the magnesium is processed out. Many diets reduce or eliminate the amount of sugar and processed foods people consume, and add more fiber through foods such as seeds, nuts, fruits, vegetables,and whole grains--all of which are high in magnesium.
Michael T. Murray, N.D., and Joseph E. Pizzorno, N.D., authors of "Encylopedia of Natural Medicine," explain how most nutritionists and dietitians haven't yet associated low magnesium with obesity or high magnesium with weight loss, mainly because they assumed everyone was getting enough magnesium in their diets since magnesium naturally occurs in whole foods. However, most Americans aren't eating whole foods.
On "The Oprah Winfrey Show" in September 2007, as well as on his television series, "Truth About Food," Mehmet Oz, M.D., author and professor of surgery at Columbia University, said the ideal supplement dosage of magnesium is 600 to 800 mg combined with 1,200 mg calcium for weight loss. Dr. Oz brought 6 1/2 lb. of fat to the show which he said can be lost in a year with this dosage alone, although he attributes the weight loss to the calcium.
A 2007 study at the University of California California Agriculture department on treatments for asthma revealed that increasing dietary magnesium not only reduces asthma symptoms but aids in weight loss. "Replacing low-magnesium foods with high-magnesium foods may be a practical, low-cost way to help reduce the risk of obesity..."
This study showed that asthma is more common among obese people and low magnesium is always present. It also showed how eating more foods containing magnesium results in weight loss plus lower asthma symptoms. Although magnesium increases carbohydrate metabolism, further research is needed to show exactly how magnesium affects weight.
The NIH, says the foods highest in magnesium are halibut, cashews, almonds, spinach and soybeans. Baked potatoes, peanuts and peanut butter, legumes, whole unrefined grains and dark-green, leafy vegetables are also good sources of magnesium.
Dr. Oz said, "Eating a magnesium-rich diet—400 mg for women, 333 mg for men—can make you nearly one year younger."
Tips and Warnings
Check with your doctor if you're a senior taking prescription drugs--they may interact with magnesium.
Alcohol abuse, cancer medications and taking certain antibiotics and diuretics cause an excessive loss of magnesium in your urine, resulting in a magnesium deficiency.
Caffeine, birth control pills and stress also rob your body of magnesium.