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You may know that magnesium is in your multivitamin, but did you know that getting adequate magnesium in your diet can help you guard against heart disease, cancer and diabetes? Read on: this super-nutrient is more important than you think, especially for pregnant women and their babies
Magnesium is an abundant micronutrient that performs numerous critical functions in the body. Magnesium is responsible for regulating muscle function, including the heart, by maintaining a healthy heartbeat and normal blood pressure levels.[i]
Magnesium also provides many metabolic benefits, including protein synthesis and blood glucose control.[ii] A low magnesium level in adults is linked to chronic inflammation, a factor that has been shown to contribute to major health conditions such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes.[iii] The truth is, getting adequate magnesium in your diet is of far greater importance than you likely ever imagined.
Magnesium: A Must for New Moms
Magnesium's anti-inflammatory effects and positive impact on blood sugar inspired researchers in Tehran, Iran, to explore the effects of magnesium supplementation on inflammatory markers, vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF)-- an endogenous substance that helps grow new blood vessels[iv] -- and pregnancy outcomes in women diagnosed with gestational diabetes mellitus.[v]
This randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled trial was conducted among 36 women, aged 18 to 40 years old, who had been diagnosed with gestational diabetes mellitus.
Gestational diabetes mellitus, or GDM, is a condition that occurs during pregnancy wherein a hormone made by the placenta prevents the body from using insulin effectively.[vi] This condition causes glucose to build up in the blood instead of being absorbed by the cells.[vii]
Study participants were randomly allocated into two groups, experimental and control, and were given either 250 milligrams (mg) per day of magnesium oxide supplement or placebo for a period of six weeks. Gene expressions related to inflammatory markers and VEGF were assessed using blood draws, via reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction.
Known as RT-PCR method, this laboratory technique combines reverse transcription of RNA into DNA and amplification of specific DNA targets using polymerase chain reaction and is primarily used to measure the amount of a specific RNA.[viii]
Magnesium Reduces Inflammation and Aids Healthy Births
Quantitative results of RT-PCR demonstrated that magnesium supplementation downregulated gene expression levels of interleukin-8, a known marker of inflammation,[ix] and also reduced the appearance of tumor necrosis factor-α, a protein that causes inflammation.[x]
Participants taking magnesium also exhibited upregulated gene expression levels of transforming growth factor beta, a protein that performs many cellular functions, including regulating growth, proliferation, differentiation and apoptosis (death) of cells.[xi] These benefits were not observed in the placebo group.
Perhaps the most significant finding in this study related to the health of participants' newborn babies. Magnesium supplementation while pregnant resulted in a lower incidence of newborn hospitalization (11.1% versus 44.4%) and fewer cases of newborn hyperbilirubinemia (11.1% versus 44.4%), a liver condition that presents as jaundice, causing yellowing of a baby's skin and eyes, as compared with placebo group.[xii]
Overall, researchers concluded that magnesium supplementation for six weeks significantly decreased inflammatory markers in women with GDM and resulted in healthier newborns.
They suggested in their research paper, published in the November 2018 issue of the scientific journal Magnesium Research, that magnesium supplementation be recommended to women with GDM in an effort to decrease metabolic complications and improve the health of offspring of women suffering from gestational diabetes mellitus.[xiii]
The Blood Sugar Benefits of Magnesium
An earlier study published in August 2017 in Magnesium Research laid the groundwork for the benefits of magnesium chloride supplementation for women with GDM. This study focused on the blood-sugar balancing and cholesterol-lowering effects of magnesium supplementation. Participants were pregnant women, aged 18 to 40 years, who had previously been diagnosed with GDM but were not taking diabetic medication.
Women in the experimental group were given 250 mg per day of magnesium supplements in the form of magnesium oxide, while the placebo group received a similar inert pill daily for six weeks. Upon final analysis, magnesium supplementation among women with GDM resulted in a significant decrease in levels of fasting plasma glucose compared to placebo group.
Additionally, magnesium supplementation upregulated gene expression of peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma, a gene involved in energy metabolism,[xiv] and glucose transporter 1, a gene that facilitates the transport of glucose across the plasma membranes of cells.[xv]
Magnesium also downregulated gene expression of oxidized low-density lipoprotein receptor, an inflammatory marker of atherosclerosis,[xvi] and decreased gene expression of lipoproteins in the blood, indicating a positive impact on cholesterol in the blood.[xvii]
To learn more about the importance of magnesium, consult the 300 abstracts on magnesium research on GreenMedInfo.com.
[i] National Institutes of Health, Health Information, Magnesium, https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Magnesium-HealthProfessional
[ii] National Institutes of Health, Health Information, Magnesium, https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Magnesium-HealthProfessional
[iii] WebMD, Diet & Weight Management, Reference, Magnesium, https://www.webmd.com/diet/supplement-guide-magnesium#1
[iv] University of Rochester Medical Center, Health Encyclopedia, Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor, https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?ContentTypeID=167&ContentID=vegf
[v] Ahmadi S. The effects of magnesium supplementation on gene expression related to inflammatory markers, vascular endothelial growth factor, and pregnancy outcomes in patients with gestational diabetes. Magnes Res. 2018 Nov 1;31(4):131-142. PMID: 31099333
[vi] Johns Hopkins Medicine, Health, Conditions and Diseases, Diabetes, Gestational Diabetes Mellitus (GDM), https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/diabetes/gestational-diabetes
[vii] Johns Hopkins Medicine, Health, Conditions and Diseases, Diabetes, Gestational Diabetes Mellitus (GDM), https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/diabetes/gestational-diabetes
[viii] Science Direct, Reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction, https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/neuroscience/reverse-transcription-polymerase-chain-reaction
[ix] PubMed.gov, The role of interleukin-8 in inflammation and mechanisms of regulation. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8315568
[x] WebMD, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Reference, How does TMF cause inflammation? https://www.webmd.com/rheumatoid-arthritis/how-does-tnf-cause-inflammation#1
[xi] Wikipedia, TGF beta 1, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TGF_beta_1
[xii] Ahmadi S. The effects of magnesium supplementation on gene expression related to inflammatory markers, vascular endothelial growth factor, and pregnancy outcomes in patients with gestational diabetes. Magnes Res. 2018 Nov 1;31(4):131-142. PMID: 31099333
[xiii] Ahmadi S. The effects of magnesium supplementation on gene expression related to inflammatory markers, vascular endothelial growth factor, and pregnancy outcomes in patients with gestational diabetes. Magnes Res. 2018 Nov 1;31(4):131-142. PMID: 31099333
[xiv] Science Direct, Peroxisome Proliferator Activated Receptor Gamma, https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/medicine-and-dentistry/peroxisome-proliferator-activated-receptor-gamma
[xv] Wikipedia, GLUT1, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GLUT1
[xvi] Uniprot.org, UniProtKB - P78380 (OLR1_HUMAN), https://www.uniprot.org/uniprot/P78380