- How to Use Magnesium Supplements for Weight Loss
- Does magnesium help with weight loss?
- Should you add magnesium to your diet?
- How much magnesium does your body need?
- Where can you buy magnesium supplements?
- What are the risks of taking magnesium supplements?
- Next steps
- 4 Supplements for Women That May Promote Weight Loss
- What Is It?
- Magnesium Benefits: A-Z
- Experience the Magic Behind Magnesium and Weight Loss
- How Much Magnesium Should You Get?
- Foods High in Magnesium
- Signs of Magnesium Deficiency
- Lose Weight the Healthy Way!
- A Guide to Magnesium – Part 2: Magnesium ‘Magic’ – Lose Weight, Sleep Better, and Boost Your Mood
- Magnesium helps weight loss
- Magnesium helps you sleep better
- Magnesium improves your mood
- Check your magnesium levels
- Will Magnesium Supplements Help You Lose Weight?
- What Is Magnesium And Why Does The Body Need This Supplement?
- How To Use Magnesium As An Aid In A Weight Loss Program?
- How Can Magnesium Help with Weight Loss
- What Are the Top 5 Barriers to Weight Loss?
- Could Magnesium Supplements Help?
- Tips for Using Magnesium for Weight Loss
- How Do You Know Which Type of Magnesium is Best for You?
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How to Use Magnesium Supplements for Weight Loss
Magnesium is an important mineral that your body needs in order to function. It helps you do a variety of important things including produce energy, regulate blood sugar, and cause necessary chemical reactions in the body.
Magnesium helps your body conduct nerve impulses, muscle contraction, and normal heart rhythm by playing a role in the transport of calcium and potassium.
Your heart, muscles, and kidneys all need magnesium to work properly. The mineral also helps build teeth and bones.
So how does this relate to weight loss? Some studies suggest the mineral might be helpful for people who need to lose weight. But that doesn’t mean the scale will budge after you start taking the supplement.
Read on to learn about adding magnesium to your diet and how it might help you lose weight.
Does magnesium help with weight loss?
Magnesium may be helpful for regulating blood sugar and insulin levels in people who are overweight or obese. “A 2013 study found that taking higher amounts of magnesium helps better control insulin and glucose blood levels. This same study also showed magnesium helps with bloating and water retention,” says Dr. Sherry Ross, OB-GYN and women’s health expert at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California.
Magnesium supplements might be helpful for reducing unpleasant menstrual symptoms in women because of its ability to reduce bloating and water retention.
Still, Dr. Ross cautions that taking magnesium alone has not been shown to be effective for weight loss. Instead, she says that your best strategy for long-term weight loss includes restricting calories, eating a healthy colorful diet, and exercising regularly.
Should you add magnesium to your diet?
In general, magnesium deficiencies are rare. But many Americans don’t get as much magnesium as they should in their diets. Magnesium is found naturally in many different foods. These foods are also healthy, so incorporating them into your diet could contribute to healthy weight loss.
Magnesium-rich foods include:
- dark leafy greens
- whole grains
Some health conditions can lead to magnesium deficiencies, including gastrointestinal diseases like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), Crohn’s disease, and celiac disease. Conditions like diabetes and kidney disease can also change the way your body absorbs and stores magnesium.
Stomach viruses that cause vomiting and diarrhea may also cause a temporary magnesium deficiency. Drinking too much alcohol or caffeine on a regular basis can affect your magnesium levels, too.
How much magnesium does your body need?
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the daily recommendations for magnesium are:
- adults 19-30 years: men 400 milligrams (mg), women 310 mg
- adults 31+: men 420 mg, women 320 mg
Where can you buy magnesium supplements?
Magnesium supplements are available at many grocery or health food stores. There are also companies that sell them online.
Supplements come in many different forms, including:
- magnesium oxide
- magnesium chloride
- magnesium gluconate
- magnesium citrate
- magnesium orotate
Some types of magnesium supplements are absorbed better than others in the body. If you want to try adding magnesium supplements to your diet, talk to your doctor about the best form and dosage for your needs.
What are the risks of taking magnesium supplements?
Supplements deliver magnesium in a larger and more concentrated way than you’d get through regular foods, so there’s a possibility for negative side effects. These include:
- upset stomach
- abdominal cramping
More serious symptoms can result from “mega-dosing,” or taking a supplement in much larger amounts than the body normally gets naturally. These include:
- muscle weakness
- low blood pressure
- being overly thirsty
- trouble breathing
- loss of appetite
- irregular heartbeat
Call your doctor or seek emergency medical care if you experience these symptoms.
It’s important to note that supplements are not regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This means private manufacturers are responsible for making sure their products are safe for human use. These products might have other additives that may be harmful, or might not contain the ingredients or dosage that they claim. When choosing a company to buy from, make sure they’re well-known and trustworthy.
Ensuring you have enough magnesium in your diet is important for your overall health, but it’s not a miracle weight loss solution. At the end of the day, successful weight loss comes from a solid plan to develop healthy eating habits and exercise regularly.
Peter LePort, M.D., medical director of MemorialCare Center for Obesity at Orange Coast Memorial Medical Center, says he wouldn’t recommend one dietary supplement for weight loss. “Patients need to get all of their vitamins and minerals,” he says.
Instead, Dr. LePort recommends a good diet and exercise plan motivated by the desire to get healthy.
If you are struggling with nutrition and weight loss, talk to your doctor or dietitian. They can help you figure out a healthy plan that’s right for you.
What supplements/vitamins should you take if you’re trying to lose weight?
You really don’t need any supplements when you’re trying to lose weight, as long as you aren’t following a very restrictive diet. Generally, a well-balanced diet that provides 1,200 calories or more should be adequate to meet your nutritional needs. If desired, you can take a general multivitamin and mineral supplement to ‘cover’ you. If you are following a very restrictive diet, or a diet that eliminates one or more food groups, meet with a dietitian to review your diet and determine what nutrients might be lacking.
Peggy Pletcher, MS, RD, LD, CDEAnswers represent the opinions of our medical experts. All content is strictly informational and should not be considered medical advice.
4 Supplements for Women That May Promote Weight Loss
We live in a world designed to help us undo our own mistakes. That’s why we have spell-check, password retrieval systems, and “Are you sure you want to delete?” prompts. These reinforcements, though they sometimes complicate our lives (darn you, autocorrect!), help protect us when we’re vulnerable.
So when it comes to diet, it also makes sense to have backups-a support system-that can help in your quest toward achieving your beach-body goals. If you’re already following these twelve principles of healthy eating from The Bikini Body Diet, these supplemental allies will enhance the effects of your diet plan to help you transform your body, gain confidence, and maintain your figure for good.
RELATED: Find more science-backed, body-slimming secrets in Shape’s new weight loss plan, The Bikini Body Diet!
One major perk of this nutrient is its ability to relax muscles, keep you calm, and promote peaceful sleep, which in itself is a huge part of making any diet plan work. According to the National Institutes of Health, magnesium is needed for more than 300 chemical reactions in the body, including keeping the heart rhythm steady, regulating blood sugar levels, and helping lower blood pressure. Some research also suggests that a higher magnesium intake can reduce the risk of colon cancer, and many studies have shown that magnesium may help treat such conditions as osteoporosis, PMS, migraines, depression, and more.
In addition to those health benefits, magnesium can also aid in weight loss and body shaping. A 2013 study in the Journal of Nutrition found that higher magnesium intake was associated with lower levels of fasting glucose and insulin (markers related to fat and weight gain), and one study from England found that a magnesium supplement may have some beneficial effects on reducing fluid retention during the menstrual cycle, helping to alleviate undesirable tummy bloat. The recommend amount of magnesium for women under 30 is 310 milligrams, and 320 for women over 30. You’ll find magnesium in many foods, including leafy green vegetables, beans, and nuts. Supplements in pill or powder form are also widely available at health food stores. Try drinking warm water with a tablespoon of magnesium powder every night before bed: This can help you sleep soundly and stay regular, reducing bloat and discomfort.
Vitamin D has many benefits for your overall health and bikini body goals, yet most of us are deficient in it. (In fact, if you live north of Atlanta or Phoenix, studies show you’re almost certain to be D-deficient most of the year.) So a daily vitamin D pill may be a necessary supplement to add to your diet. There are studies suggesting that vitamin D aids in increasing muscle strength, while having low levels of it is linked to such things as heart disease and cancer. Some research shows that people with low levels of vitamin D catch more colds or the flu than those with the highest amounts. That’s a benefit itself, but think about the trickle effect too: The more you get sick, the less you feel like exercising and the more susceptible you are to reaching for so-called feel-good foods.
In terms of weight loss, vitamin D may play an even more promising role by helping regulate hunger and appetite. A 2012 Iranian study in Nutrition Journal found that supplementation with vitamin D was associated with a 7-percent decrease in fat, and a small study from the University of Minnesota found a relationship between higher levels of D and fat loss, especially in the belly area. Of course, that doesn’t mean that taking vitamin D is a one-pill-cure-all. But to supplement your good exercise and eating habits, make sure you get the recommended amount every day through diet, sunlight (get at least 15 minutes outdoors, especially during winter months), and supplementation if necessary. You can get vitamin D in a variety of foods, such as fish, eggs, and fortified dairy products; the daily recommended intake is 600 IU. Research shows you’ll get better absorption of a vitamin D supplement if you take it with your largest meal.
The dried fruit and leaves of this plant, related to the blueberry, may provide beneficial effects for weight loss due to its antioxidant properties. One 2011 study in the journal Diabeteologia found that a diet high in bilberry (as well as fatty fish and whole grains) improved function of the circulatory system. One of these effects included improved blood pressure and other circulatory issues that are associated with being overweight.
Mounting research is drawing a connection between gut-health aids like probiotics-the healthy bacteria that live in our intestines or gut-and weight control. The ingestion of probiotics, either from foods like yogurt or supplements, has been shown to be effective at everything from boosting the immune system and reducing gastrointestinal problems to treating cancer. Research from the Washington University School of Medicine has linked obesity to a lack of gut flora diversity. Add yogurt to your daily diet, and especially if you’re vegan or lactose-intolerant, be sure to look for probiotic supplements with at least 5 billion active cells.
And don’t forget to buy your copy of The Bikini Body Diet today for even more body-sculpting advice and slim-down secrets for getting beach-ready in no time!
- By By the editors of Shape.com
We hear most often about the importance of vitamin D, calcium, and omega-3s, but have you heard much about magnesium?
Yeah, I didn’t think so. That’s a shame because magnesium is a “miracle mineral,” if you will, and I am here to single out all the benefits of magnesium!
I’ll tell you about magnesium and weight loss, show you how to fit more of it into your life, and go over everything else you need to know about this miracle mineral!
What Is It?
Magnesium is an important mineral in our bodies that helps them function. It helps produce energy, regulate blood sugar, conducts nerve impulses, muscle contractions, as well as normal heart rhythms. Overall, it is pretty essential to our existence.
Magnesium Benefits: A-Z
Okay, I really won’t list 26 benefits of magnesium, but there really are a lot:
A) It has the ability to relax muscles.
B) Magnesium keeps you calm.
C) It promotes a peaceful sleep.
D) It can reduce the risk of colon cancer.
E) It aids in the treatment of PMS, migraines, and depression.
F) It is important for bone formation.
G) It maintains bone health which prevents osteoporosis.
H) Magnesium can help relieve anxiety or a person’s reaction to stress.
I) Magnesium can lower blood pressure.
J) It has anti-inflammatory benefits.
K) It may boost exercise performance.
L) Magnesium is safe and widely available in food and dietary supplements.
M) It aids in weight loss and body shaping.
N) While all of these are stellar health benefits, let’s discuss the specific details of magnesium and weight loss.
Experience the Magic Behind Magnesium and Weight Loss
You guessed it: taking magnesium alone will not be effective for weight loss. But if paired with a colorful diet, regular exercise, and an appropriate number of daily calories, magnesium has been found to reduce abdominal fat!
This occurs because magnesium is associated with lower levels of fasting glucose and insulin (indicators related to fat and weight gain), which helps those who are overweight. Over half of the insulin in our bloodstream is sent to the abdomen, so the more sugar we consume, the more insulin we produce. This extra insulin is ultimately sent to our abdomen for processing, resulting in extra fat.
So, getting enough magnesium will lower insulin levels to keep your midsection nice and trim!
Magnesium also helps with bloating and water retention, which most of us experience, especially women during their period. Magnesium functions as a diuretic so it eases the pressure caused by fluid retention.
Magnesium can also act as a laxative that cleanses out your colon to reduce body weight. It is gentle on the stomach so you don’t have to worry about emergency bathroom breaks!
How Much Magnesium Should You Get?
The recommended daily allowance for magnesium depends on age and gender, but here is a rough estimate for the average individual:
14 to 18 years of age: 410 mg a day
19 years and older: 400 to 420 mg a day
14 to 18 years of age: 360 mg a day
19 years and older: 310 to 320 mg a day
During pregnancy: 360 to 400 mg a day
Foods High in Magnesium
There are many sources of magnesium that are readily available to us, but unfortunately, many of us don’t get enough of it in our diets. The good news is, most magnesium-rich foods are as delicious as they are healthy!
Some of my favorites include:
Whole wheat bread
You see, you can certainly enjoy a high-variety diet while consuming all of your essential nutrients at the same time.
However, despite having a healthy diet, sometimes you can still be lacking in magnesium.
Signs of Magnesium Deficiency
Magnesium deficiency, or “hypomagnesemia”, is rare, but 75% of Americans aren’t meeting their recommended intake. While it may affect older individuals more and those with alcoholism are at an increased risk, the deficiency can go underdiagnosed because obvious signs usually don’t appear until your levels are extremely low. Some short-term symptoms of magnesium deficiency include:
- Loss of appetite
- Nausea and vomiting
- Fatigue and weakness
More severe symptoms include:
- Numbness and tingling
- Muscle cramps
- Personality changes
- Heart spasms
On the other hand, a high intake of magnesium from food or supplements can also lead to problems such as diarrhea, cramping, kidney problems, low blood pressure, and cardiac arrest. Such an overdose of magnesium is unlikely, but possible, and can be reversed through an IV of calcium gluconate.
Don’t be alarmed though. The risk of ever experiencing a magnesium overdose is extremely low for a typically healthy person, but it occurs mostly for people with impaired kidney function. With this in mind, it seems best to monitor what you eat, and speak with your doctor if you are wondering if you can benefit from taking a magnesium supplement.
Every part of your body needs magnesium! This includes your heart, liver, kidney, and bones. Getting enough magnesium is essential for maintaining good health, so be sure to eat plenty of magnesium-rich foods, or take a supplement if you’re unable to get enough from your diet alone.
Without enough of this important mineral, your body simply can’t function optimally. By regulating your blood sugar and insulin levels, magnesium is great for managing body weight. Keep this in mind for the next time you need a mid-afternoon snack: reach for something magnesium-rich because it will give you plenty of health-related benefits as well as give you some boost to your weight loss efforts!
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Magnesium deficiency is far more common than you’d expect. Know the easy to spot signs.
A Guide to Magnesium – Part 2: Magnesium ‘Magic’ – Lose Weight, Sleep Better, and Boost Your Mood
The benefits of magnesium is critical to your dental health. Many who show very obvious signs of magnesium deficiency quickly feel impressive effects after we correct the problem. When this simple nutrient deficiency is corrected, the benefits are felt all over the body.
Imagine not struggling with your weight, sleeping better at night, and feeling happier after increasing your magnesium intake through food or supplementation – these are some of the most common results I’ve seen from magnesium testing and correction.
In Part 2 of this series, I want to explain how magnesium could be the solution to some of your everyday problems. Remember, this important mineral is involved in over 600 enzymatic processes, so when you aren’t getting enough it can throw your whole body off. This can leave you struggling to maintain weight, sleep through the night or feeling anxious and depressed.
The most common symptoms of magnesium deficiency I see in my practice are:
- Unexplained weight gain or difficulty keeping weight off
- Difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep or both
- Daytime tiredness
- Irritability or mood swings
The issue with many symptoms associated with magnesium deficiency is that they seem unrelated. Because magnesium deficiency affects every part of your body, low level symptoms can be widespread and confusing, or not severe enough to know something’s wrong. This is why I recommend nutrient testing. A simple blood test with your dentist or functional medicine doctor can tell you what important nutrients you’re missing.
It’s estimated that half of Americans don’t get enough magnesium – meaning magnesium is likely a solution to many people’s frustrating health problems. Let’s look at how increasing magnesium intake could improve your weight loss, sleep, and mood.
Magnesium helps weight loss
There’s no single pill that can improve weight loss but magnesium supplements can certainly help. Correcting a magnesium deficiency can help your body function more efficiently and help normalize metabolism.
Here’s a closer look at how magnesium affects your ability to maintain a healthy weight:
- Magnesium citrate helps you lose water and stool weight – Magnesium citrate is used as a stool softener to keep you regular. More importantly, it can help maintain healthy magnesium levels if you’re deficient, which improves hormone balance and increases energy production.
- Lowers insulin resistance – Magnesium has been shown in numerous studies to reduce insulin resistance. When your body becomes resistant to insulin it can’t keep up with the increased glucose in the bloodstream. This leads to weight gain, fatigue and other health complications.
- Boosts cellular energy – Magnesium is critical in the process that makes cellular energy within your mitochondria. Your cells have an energy currency called ATP that gives them the life they need to complete daily tasks. When you don’t have enough magnesium it lowers your ATP production, which makes you tired and lowers your metabolism.
Your body needs sufficient magnesium for it to function properly. If you’re magnesium deficient it could be contributing to your weight gain or preventing you from losing weight.
Magnesium helps you sleep better
If you struggle with getting to sleep at night or staying asleep, it’s quite possible you have a magnesium deficiency.
Magnesium helps you sleep because it impacts:
- Your circadian rhythm – Keeping you on schedule and releasing the right hormones at the right time of day.
- Hormone balance – Magnesium balances hormones associated with sleep such as melatonin and GABA.
- Sleep quality – Magnesium helps you stay asleep throughout the night. Studies have found that magnesium before bed can help you sleep throughout the night and when you’re magnesium deficient it impairs your sleep quality by making you restless.
Magnesium deficiency can also keep you awake with racing thoughts because it’s known to cause nervousness and anxiety.
Magnesium improves your mood
Magnesium is important for balancing many hormones associated with your mood. Many studies have linked magnesium deficiency to an increased risk of depression and anxiety.
A review of 8,894 American adults found that low magnesium levels increased the risk of depression by 22 percent. Additionally, research has found that adding magnesium supplementation to depression treatment plans is effective and naturally beneficial for the patient.
In addition to depression, magnesium deficiency also has been shown to increase anxiety, nervousness and racing thoughts. Magnesium directly impacts numerous neurotransmitters and hormones associated with stress, including cortisol, GABA, and melatonin. Studies have even found magnesium to be effective in reducing panic attacks.
Magnesium is one of the few nutrients that is actually able to cross the blood-brain barrier in certain forms and can improve neuroplasticity. Due to it’s impact on neuroplasticity, magnesium supplements are powerful and effective for influencing your mood.
Check your magnesium levels
Magnesium is a quick and impactful way to improve your day-to-day life.
In Part 3 of this series we’ll examine how you can get more magnesium in your diet naturally. We’ll also look at the different forms of magnesium supplements available. There are certain types of magnesium supplement which are beneficial for different health goals, so it’s important you understand your options. Also, we will look at magnesium toxicity and overdose because it is possible to take too much magnesium.
Do you take magnesium supplements? If so, share your experience in the comments below. We’re curious – in what areas of your life did you see the biggest impact from correcting your magnesium deficiency?
Continue to Magnesium Supplementation.
For more information on Dr. Lin’s clinical protocol that highlights the steps parents can take to prevent dental problems in their children:
Dr Steven Lin’s book, The Dental Diet, is available to order today. An exploration of ancestral medicine, the human microbiome and epigenetics it’s a complete guide to the mouth-body connection. Take the journey and the 40-day delicious food program for life-changing oral and whole health.
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Magnesium And Weight Loss
- 05 February 2019
- by: Adam
- in: Blog
This article was written by a Medical Doctor (MD) and reviewed by the thyroid health experts at ThyroMate.
ThyroMate articles uses only proven, accurate, credible sources (such as research studies and academic papers and websites) in order to provide accurate, fact-checked information about thyroid health that is helpful and objective. All references are linked throughout the article and sources for each are cited at the end. Visit these links to learn more about the research studies and conclusions drawn from the research methods.
Information contained on this website is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should always consult your physician for questions related to your health.
Will Magnesium Supplements Help You Lose Weight?
With the prevalence of obesity being at an all-time high, the general population, or at least 1.9 billion of the adults around the world1, are at an increased risk of heart attacks, strokes, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and many other chronic diseases that come with obesity2.
Even though millions of people are constantly following a diet in order to help them lose weight, the rate of obesity is still seemingly increasing. One of the primary reasons why many people to fail at losing weight successfully when they follow a weight loss regimen is due to improper education, along with marketing gimmicks that promise the individual they will lose a large amount of weight in just a short period of time.
In order to successfully lose weight, specific strategies need to be implemented and the body, which includes the adoption of healthy habits. Among these healthy habits lie the inclusion of essential minerals and vitamins that the body requires on a daily basis to function properly.
Numerous studies have now suggested that the use of magnesium supplements may be helpful for people struggling to lose weight, but there are certain conditions that first need to be understood before a person decides to follow this new trend.
In this post, we will take a look at what functions magnesium plays in the body and come to a conclusion as to whether or not magnesium may be a useful supplement to take for people who are trying to lose excess fat that has accumulated in their bodies. We will also look at how exactly the supplement can be utilized for better results with a weight loss program.
What Is Magnesium And Why Does The Body Need This Supplement?
Magnesium is classified as a mineral in the human body that is acquired through external sources, including food and supplements. The mineral has a large range of functions to play in the human body, ranging from the regulation of blood pressure to ensure the heart beats normally. The mineral is also involved in the process of ensuring calcium is properly absorbed and carried to bones; thus contribute to stronger and healthier bones as well.
A significant number of people in the United States, as well as around the world, are not ensuring they consume an adequate supply of this particular mineral each day3. This can lead to a number of complications – including higher inflammation markers.
This, in turn, can put a person at risk of certain diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease. Since magnesium has a role to play in ensuring bones adequately absorb calcium, inadequate intake of the mineral may even be a contributing factor to conditions such as osteoporosis.
Can Magnesium Assist In Weight Loss?
Some publications have reported that magnesium may be a useful supplement for people who are finding that they are struggling to lose weight – the supplement is now often promoted as a potential aid in weight management.
While there is some truth to the facts that have been stated, it is crucial for people to understand that magnesium supplements are not weight loss pills, and simply increasing their daily intake of the mineral will likely not yield benefits in terms of weight management and fat reduction.
The potential benefits that magnesium may have in terms of weight loss lies within its effects on circulating blood glucose levels, as well as insulin levels. The supplement has also been associated with positive effects on people with diabetes and insulin resistance – another way that the mineral may be able to contribute to weight loss possibly.
In order to better understand the effects that magnesium has on these conditions, let us turn our focus to a study, published in the MDPI Journal of Nutrients4. The study included a total of 234 participants, all with diagnosed Metabolic Syndrome. The participants of the study were also diagnosed with insulin resistance; thus they were at risk of type 2 diabetes.
The study lasted for a period of 12 months, during which participants were provided with magnesium supplementation in order to meet their daily requirement of this mineral. At the beginning of the study, participants went through a number of tests in order to determine their current insulin levels, HOMA-IR results, as well as their magnesium levels. The scientists behind the study found that only 23.5% of the participants met the daily recommend magnesium levels in their blood.
By the end of the study, the scientists found that HOMA-IR tests yielded improved results and insulin regulation was improved in the participants as well. Furthermore, a higher percentage of participants in the study met the RDA for the mineral at both month six and after the 12-month period was over.
The conclusion of the study is that adequate supplementation of magnesium in individuals with levels of the mineral that is considered lower than the RDA may yield improvement in insulin resistance.
Insulin resistance is not only a major contributing factor to type 2 diabetes, but have also been associated with obesity. Individuals who become insulin resistant are known to gain weight faster and losing weight may become more difficult for them as well. This is essentially how a person would continue to gain weight until they become obese, ultimately opening up a range of other risk factors for them, including a significant increase in their likeliness of suffering from various chronic diseases.
How To Use Magnesium As An Aid In A Weight Loss Program?
Now that we have established the fact that magnesium is not a weight loss pill that will help a person magically start to drop pounds, let us take a look at how this particular supplement may be useful in a weight management program.
As described before, insulin resistance is associated with obesity. The condition is also associated with type 2 diabetes, which, in turn, further raises the risk of gaining weight and becoming obese.
When magnesium supplementation is used adequately in order to provide the recommended levels of the mineral to a person’s body, they are gaining a protective mechanism to help with the regulation of insulin in their bodies. This, in turn, may help to reduce the effects that insulin resistance has on their bodies – what this means is that their risk of gaining more weight may be somewhat reduced. Their risk of not being able to lose weight successfully may also be reduced since insulin is now better regulated with the aid of the magnesium supplementation.
Alone, this supplement will not cause excess weight to come off. A person who is interested in using magnesium supplements or including more magnesium-rich foods in their diet to assist in their weight loss journey should still follow an appropriate weight management program. Magnesium supplements should only become part of this program.
A weight management program needs to include a caloric deficit – which is a term used to describe a program where fewer calories are consumed than the number of calories the person would burn each day. Since calories need to be burned, exercise will also need to start playing an important role in a person’s day-to-day lifestyle.
When it comes to setting up a diet, it is important to include a range of different healthy food options. This would help a person to obtain adequate amounts of important vitamins and minerals – including magnesium, of course – while still being able to ensure excess weight in their body can be effectively reduced.
An exercise plan should focus on helping the person burn more calories than they will be eating – this is why it is usually recommended that a person would calculate their daily caloric requirements, make appropriate amendments due to their goal of losing weight, and then set up an exercise program that will lead to them burning more calories than the number that they have calculated.
How To Increase Your Daily Intake Of Magnesium?
Magnesium is found in a large range of food products and can also be obtained through a supplement, which usually includes a dietary pill that is taken by mouth with some water.
Foods that are known to be high in magnesium include beans and nuts, yogurt, fish, whole grain foods, leafy green vegetables, tofu, and quinoa. There are many different supplements on the market as well – while some of these will only include magnesium, others will combine the mineral with additional nutrients that are needed by the body to function.
Are There Any Risks To Increasing Your Daily Magnesium Intake?
Magnesium is required by the human body to function properly. Cells, tissues, and organs throughout the body, including the heart, depends on an appropriate supply of the mineral to function normally. Thus, by including magnesium in a diet or as a supplement, a person is generally not considered to be at risk of experiencing any significant side-effects or symptoms associated with toxicity.
It should, however, be noted that taking too much magnesium can lead to potential side-effects. In most cases, a person would experience a range of mild side-effects when they take too much of this supplement. These side-effects may include an upset stomach, which can be accompanied by diarrhea. Some people may also experience nausea, and abdominal cramping is also not unlikely to develop.
There are cases, however, where the symptoms of taking an excessively large dose of magnesium can yield more serious side-effects. When a person consumes too much magnesium, especially over a long period of time, they are at risk of experiencing the following side-effects:
- Excessive thirst
- A loss of their appetite
- Breathing problems
- Muscle weakness and fatigue
- An irregular heartbeat
- Lowered levels of blood pressure
How Much Magnesium Does The Human Body Need?
Due to the potential side-effects that may occur with excessive dosing of magnesium, a person should ensure they understand how much magnesium they require on a daily basis and aim to comply with such recommendations.
The recommended daily intake of magnesium depends on a person’s age, as well as their gender. Men are usually advised to consume more magnesium than women. Adults and seniors are also advised to consume higher amounts of this mineral than younger children and teenagers5.
- Adult men under 30 should obtain approximately 400mg of magnesium daily
- Adult women under 30 should obtain approximately 310mg of magnesium daily
- Adult men over 30 should obtain about 420mg of magnesium each day
- Adult women over 30 should obtain about 320mg of magnesium each day
While magnesium has been associated with potential improvements in weight loss, taking the supplement alone without any other specific changes in a person’s habits, such as the way they eat or the amount of exercise they obtain, will not yield positive results.
These supplements should ideally be included in a healthy diet, which will need to provide a person with a caloric deficit if they wish to shed weight. Exercise should also play a crucial part in such a program.
5 Magnesium. National Institutes of Health. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Magnesium-HealthProfessional/
How Can Magnesium Help with Weight Loss
Written by Katherine Barrington, Certified Fitness Nutrition Coach
Obesity has become an epidemic in this country and many people are struggling to lose weight. Even if you are trying to make healthy changes to your lifestyle in an attempt to lose weight, it isn’t always as easy as fitness gurus and celebrities make it seem. If you’ve been trying to lose weight and it just isn’t working, you might need to make some adjustments. Keep reading to learn about the top five barriers to weight loss and how magnesium supplementation might help you reach your goals.
What Are the Top 5 Barriers to Weight Loss?
If you feel like you’ve been doing everything right but you still aren’t losing weight, it may be time to reevaluate your strategy and to explore other options. Before you hop on board with another fad diet, take the time to look at what you might be doing right – and what you might be doing wrong. Here are the top five weight loss mistakes you could be making:
Mistake #1: You’re doing the wrong kind of exercise
Exercise is an essential component of any weight loss plan and it does, to some degree, matter what kind of exercise you are getting. Cardiovascular exercise is great for calorie burn, but you should also incorporate strength training to start building muscle. Muscle burns more calories than fat – the more muscle you have, the higher your metabolism will be and the more calories you’ll burn.
Mistake #2: You’re not getting enough sleep
You may not realize it, but sleep plays a role in all of your body’s essential functions including energy metabolism and fat burn. According to a study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, women who get 5 hours of sleep or less each night have more than 30% more likely to gain weight. Other studies have shown that if you don’t get enough sleep, it could cause your body to produce more ghrelin, the hunger hormone that stimulates your appetite.
Mistake #3: You’re drinking too many empty calories
Alcohol and soda are two of the most common culprits that can sabotage your weight loss efforts. Alcohol contains zero nutrients but it does contain calories. Plus, studies show that drinking alcohol can increase your appetite and cause you to overeat. Soda, even the zero-calorie versions, can expand your waistline if you overindulge. If you really want to lose weight, stop drinking your calories and focus on healthy beverages like water and green tea.
Mistake #4: You’re eating more than you realize
Counting calories is an excellent tool for weight loss. Unfortunately, many people don’t have even a basic understanding of what true portion sizes are and this leads them to underestimate how much they are really eating. If you want to lose weight, you need to create a calorie deficit and you can only do that if you know how many calories you are eating. Buy a food scale and start measuring your portions as you track your calories.
Mistake #5: You might be deficient in magnesium
Magnesium is one of the most abundant minerals in the body, playing a role in more than 300 different biochemical reactions. According to a study published in the Journal of Nutrition, magnesium intake may also be correlated with weight loss. Eating more magnesium-rich foods may help you to beat the bloat by combating water retention and it helps to regulate blood sugar and insulin levels.
Though any of these mistakes could be the reason behind your weight loss troubles, the final mistake is one of the most common – it is also one of the easiest to overlook. Keep reading to learn more about magnesium supplementation for weight loss and how to do it correctly.
Could Magnesium Supplements Help?
As you have already learned, magnesium is an extremely important nutrient for healthy bodily function. This mineral plays a role in everything from energy production to regulating your blood sugar and supporting essential chemical reactions. Magnesium helps with muscle contraction, supports normal heart rhythm, and it helps your body build strong bones and teeth. But how does it relate to weight loss? In several ways.
According to a 2013 study published in the Journal of Nutrition, higher levels of magnesium in the diet may help to control both insulin production and blood glucose levels. Both of these things are important for maintaining a healthy body weight. The results of the study also suggest that magnesium supplementation may help to reduce fluid retention and bloating. Magnesium also plays a role in energy metabolism and helps your body to absorb nutrients from the food you eat which helps you to maintain a healthy body weight.
Tips for Using Magnesium for Weight Loss
If you’re considering magnesium for weight loss, there are a few options available. One option is to take a magnesium supplement. Keep in mind that there are different types of magnesium supplements, however, so you should talk to your doctor to determine which is right for you and how much you should be taking. General recommendations for magnesium intake are 400 mg for men aged 19 to 30 and 420 mg for men over 30. Women aged 19 to 30 need 310 mg per day and women over 30 need about 320 mg. As an alternative to taking magnesium supplements, you can also just add more magnesium to your diet by eating foods such as whole grains, dark leafy greens, nuts, beans, fish, yogurt, and tofu. A final option is to use a topical magnesium oil that can be applied directly to the skin.
Weight loss is not something that happens overnight – it is a journey that you must commit to if you really want to see lasting results. By adjusting your lifestyle and adding magnesium supplements to your daily routine, however, you can make it happen.
How Can Magnesium Help with Weight Loss
~ Written by Katherine Barrington, Certified Fitness Nutrition Coach
How Do You Know Which Type of Magnesium is Best for You?
Dr. Laurie Steelsmith April 4, 2018 Supplements Email Print Twitter Pinterest Facebook
Call it the Mighty Mineral. Playing a leading role in over 300 biochemical functions, magnesium may be prolific in some of the most healthful foods out there—almonds, spinach and avocados, to name just a few—but studies out of the National Institutes of Health report that most U.S. residents aren’t getting enough of the good stuff. What’s more, certain situations—from alcoholism and intestinal problems to a less-than-stellar diet—can cause your body to lose magnesium quicker than you can replenish it.
Consider it a cause for concern. Magnesium works with a vital energy-storage molecule called ATP (adenosine triphosphate) to provide your body with energy—indeed, ATP can’t operate without magnesium. And as for those 300 biochemical functions? They, too, are crucial, from building and maintaining healthy bones to transporting calcium and potassium to cell membranes in a process that’s critical to nerve function, normal heart rhythm and muscle contraction. What’s more, magnesium naturally supports good digestion and cognitive health. In other words, ensuring you’re getting enough of “the mighty mineral” should soar to the top of your health to-do list. (According to the NIH, males between 31 and 50 should get 420 mg per day, women in the same age group should receive 360 mg daily, and nursing mothers should aim for 320 mg.)
Besides piling your plate with magnesium-rich foods—cashews, black beans, edamame, and oatmeal are also savvy choices—you may elect to start taking magnesium supplements. But from magnesium citrate to magnesium taurate, it can be challenging to make a decision that will be most advantageous to you and your situation. In addition to consulting with your primary care physician or naturopath, here’s a brief breakdown of 7 of the different types of magnesium to aid you in your efforts:
1. Magnesium chloride
Perhaps the most popular magnesium supplement on the market, magnesium chloride—which is extracted from brine or ocean water, and is argued to be the most effective form of dietary supplementation—organically encourages sleep, digestion, bone health and a sense of calm (both mental and physical). That said, supplementing with this form of magnesium may cause diarrhea.
2. Magnesium sulfate
Sound familiar? If you, too, are the sort of person to read the fine print on everything from cereal boxes to bath products, chances are magnesium sulfate will remind you of bath time. Otherwise known as Epsom salts, magnesium sulfate has long been a boon for athletes—or, really, anyone with sore muscles; it’s also widely known for its laxative effects.†
3. Magnesium citrate
Citrate might sound familiar too—consider it an erudite way of saying that it’s derived from citric acid (in this case, magnesium salt is obtained from the citrus acid). With excellent bioavailability—that is, the efficacy with which a substance is absorbed and used by the body—it’s no wonder magnesium citrate one of the most highly recommended magnesium supplements by health professionals. Often used to naturally support digestion—specifically, to alleviate constipation and acid indigestion—it’s also, bonus points, easy on the wallet. However, it may lead to dehydration (and the imbalance of minerals that arrives with this), in that it pulls water into the intestines.
4. Magnesium oxide
With lower levels of bioavailability than its other iterations—that is, it scores only 4 percent, while magnesium citrate has a bioavailability of 90 percent—magnesium oxide is found in Milk of Magnesia and similar products, and, as such, organically encourages improved digestion.†
5. Magnesium glycinate
Feeling stressed? This may be the form for you. While magnesium in its many different forms has been shown to naturally support muscle relaxation, magnesium glycinate might just take the cake (to note: the amino acid glycine is known for the calming impact it can have on the mind and body).† Additionally, it has optimum bioavailability and, unlike some of its kin, isn’t known for its laxative properties.
6. Magnesium orotate
Those searching for supplements that may organically encourage heart health might give this type a try. With its inclusion of orotic acid (formerly known as B13), it’s also a favorite among athletes, given that it may naturally support the repair of tissues, as well as enhanced stamina and performance.† This is partly reflected in its price tag: Magnesium orotate often comes with a heftier fee than, say, magnesium oxide or citrate.
7. Magnesium L-threonate
Dubbed a “breakthrough” supplement by some, magnesium L-threonate possesses not only good bioavailability but also the potential to improve cognitive functions, with the National Institutes of Health reporting that memory deficits—particularly short term memory loss caused by chronic pain—may be just one of the potential benefits of this form of magnesium. This is encouraging news, especially when considered with other research, including a 17-year study that followed more than 1,000 Japanese people over the age of 60; those who consumed more than 200 mg per day were 37% less likely to develop any type of dementia. In the interim, magnesium L-threonate may sharpen your wit and ability to remember an acquaintance’s name—just as it may remind you to eat your legumes: A mere cup of black beans will give you 120 mg of the magical mineral, possibly leaving you feeling just as mighty.
†These statements have not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease.
Dr. Laurie Steelsmith
Laurie Steelsmith, ND, LAc, is a naturopathic physician and licensed acupuncturist who specializes in women’s health. She is the co-author of Great Sex, Naturally: Every Woman’s Guide to Enhancing Her Sexuality Through the Secrets of Natural Medicine and co-author of Natural Choices for Women’s Health: How the Secrets of Natural and Chinese Medicine Can Create a Lifetime of Wellness. Visit her website at www.DrSteelsmith.com.
Laurie Steelsmith, ND, LAc, is a naturopathic physician and licensed acupuncturist who specializes in women’s health. She is the co-author of Great Sex, Naturally: Every Woman’s Guide to Enhancing Her Sexuality Through the Secrets of Natural Medicine and co-author of Natural Choices for Women’s Health: How the Secrets of Natural and Chinese Medicine Can Create a Lifetime of Wellness. Visit her website at www.DrSteelsmith.com.
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Ahhhhh Magnesium. Is it weird to call it my favorite mineral? It helps me sleep better, it soothes my sore muscles, and it also helps (a LOT) with bloating. The best.
Magnesium is one of the most abundant (and crucial!) minerals in our bodies. And there are so may health benefits to eating a magnesium rich diet, yet most of us are magnesium deficient. For the average adult, our levels of magnesium are actually too low. Magnesium deficiency comes mostly from eating a diet that is too low in magnesium (keep reading for supplement ideas and scroll to the end of this post for more magnesium-rich posts to consider adding to your diet/eating more of!) but certain foods we consume (caffeine for example, yikes – coffee addict over here) can actually deplete magnesium levels.
It’s hard to tell if you’re actually magnesium deficient (a blood test won’t tell you). But if you are deficient you may experience difficulty sleeping, muscle cramps, and a lack of energy. There are more serious side effects though, and studies show that getting enough magnesium can also help to prevent heart disease.
Magnesium can help with everything from sleeping better to losing weight. It’s sort of a magical mineral, if you ask me. (A supplement that can help you calm down, improve sleep, AND wake up with a flat stomach? Sign. me. up.)
A while back I wrote about magnesium for sleep and anxiety. That’s when I started taking a magnesium supplement regularly. A few of you told me about this magnesium supplement, which I ordered immediately off of Amazon based on your comments. It’s amazing for sleep. Three before bed and I sleep like a baby. I’m NOT a doctor but I think it’s better than Ambien. You fall asleep right away but you don’t wake up with any Ambien-y side effects.
Today we are going to talk about Magnesium Citrate.
Prior to taking MyoCalm for sleep, I used to take two magnesium citrate tablets every night (per my old nutritionist’s recommendation) along with two probiotics. I have been reading about it a lot recently (in particular, for weight loss and water retention) and recently switched back to my old routine of taking magnesium citrate before bed (instead of MyoCalm, I’ve been sleeping better on my own lately and I’m no expert but I think it’s one or the other. Taking both would be wayyyy too much magnesium).
Personally the biggest difference I’ve noticed is that I feel considerably less bloated and wake up with a flatter stomach. It definitely helps with sleep and muscle soreness too though.
What is Magnesium Citrate?
The magnesium citrate I take is a mix of magnesium citrate and calcium citrate. (As with everything, I get it on Amazon). The main claim from Metagenics is that it helps to support muscle contraction and relaxation responses, as well as healthy bone structure. Magnesium citrate also helps work to attract and absorb water in the gut and helps the body’s ability to break down foods. (For that reason magnesium citrate is frequently used to treat constipation by drawing water into the intestines.)
Is it Safe?
Yes – magnesium citrate is totally safe to take, just (as with any supplement) consult your physician before taking magnesium supplements.
Is it Healthy?
Yes – just be sure to take a supplement from a reputable company. I always buy my supplements from Metagenics, mostly because my old nutritionist recommended them and I really trusted his opinion. I’ve had good results with this magnesium citrate supplement in particular. Too much magnesium citrate can cause a laxative effect, if this happens to you, talk to your doctor about another form of magnesium such as magnesium glycinate – it’s said to be gentler on the stomach.
Magnesium Citrate for Weight Loss
This isn’t a post about dieting BUT in all of my research it seems like magnesium can really help with weight loss, especially if you are retaining water or tend to bloat easily. It isn’t (at least from everything I’ve read), going to help you burn fat but it will definitely help with water retention and improved digestion. (Also, Lauryn Evarts swears by it and her recommendations have never once let me down.)
For belly fat and bloating.
You cannot spot treat belly fat. We’ve been over this, le sigh. BUT, it helps those of us who retain water and get bloated easily. As I mentioned above, I have noticed I’m considerably less bloated after taking magnesium citrate supplement every night. And according to this article, a study from England showed that a magnesium supplement has beneficial effects on reducing water retention and bloating during your period.
Magnesium can also help a lot with constipation (another thing that can make you bloated). A lot of medicines for constipation are made with magnesium citrate.
How to Get More Magnesium In Your Diet
Supplements are great but it’s even better if you can get your magnesium through what you eat. I personally like a mix. I make a point to eat a lot of dark, leafy greens and other magnesium-rich foods (it’s good to have an excuse to eat more dark chocolate right?) but I also take a supplement since I’m a big coffee drinker and also work out a lot.
Eating a clean diet that is full of fruits + veggies and rich in minerals and vitamins is the most important thing; dietary supplements are intended to literally “supplement” a healthy diet. In my opinion, unless the situation is dire (aka you are traveling in a desert with no access to fruits and vegetables), you should never fully rely on vitamins and supplements. A good diet comes first. (And you want to be careful – too much magnesium can have a laxative effect… yikes!)
The best magnesium rich foods are leafy green vegetables, beans, and nuts. Think swiss chard, kale, flaxseeds, white beans, avocado, peanuts, and dark chocolate. (YUM to that last one). Pumpkin seeds, salmon, and prunes are also very high in magnesium.
You can also take a supplement (I take two of these every night, before bed!) The recommended amount of magnesium for women under 30 is 310mg, and 320mg for women 30 and over. (Source)
What about you? Do you take a magnesium supplement?
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What is Bilberry?
Move over strawberries, blueberries, and cranberries. There’s a “new” wonder berry in town. It’s common knowledge that berries are a rich nutrient food.
It’s likely you haven’t heard about the bilberry and all its wonderful health propertiesthat support its description as the wonder berry.
What are The Benefits of Bilberry?
The bilberry is a plant relative of traditional berries including blueberries and huckleberries. It’s a darker and more tart neighbor of the blueberry. Bilberries are primarily found in thewild in northern Europe.1
It is also worth noting that bilberry may benefit weight loss efforts.
What Makes The Bilberry a Superfood?
The super health properties of the bilberry are known to come from the plant’s pigments called anthocyanosides, which contain one of the richest sources of antioxidants. One of the benefits of antioxidants is that they search the body for free radicals with the objective of helping to prevent or reverse cell damage.2
The History of Bilberry
The bilberry has a long history especially in Europe. Bilberry started growing in popularity in the 16th century when herbalists used it for a variety of ailments including lung, liver, and menstrual ailments. The bilberry claim to fame happened during World War II when British Royal Air Force pilots discovered the benefits of the berry for vision. When pilots consumed the bilberry before a night mission, they found a significant improvement in vision.2
The Science Behind the Bilberry Super Fruit
The power of this berry lies in a phytochemical mix of compounds, such as flavonols, tannins, phenolic acids, and anthocyanins. Of all the different types of berries, bilberry has the greatest concentration of anthocyanins. All the compounds are redox-active antioxidants and iron chelators, and naturally occurring in red, blue, and purple-colored fruits, and vegetables.3
What is Bilberry Supplement Good For?
Bilberries are low in calories and rich in nutrients. Just 100 grams of bilberries contain 44 calories, .7 grams protein, 11.5 g of carbohydrates, and only .5 g of fat. Ensure you know how to get all your nutrients by discovering below what the bilberry is loaded with in both vitamins and minerals4:
|Vitamin A||1.08 RE||Calcium||15 mg|
|Vitamin C||44 mg||Iron||0.8 mg|
|Thiamine||0.03 mg||Magnesium||7 mg|
|Riboflavin||0.03 mg||Phosphorus||9 mg|
|Niacin||0.583 NE||Potassium||103 mg|
|Vitamin B6||0.06 mg||Sodium||3 mg|
|Folate||6 mcg||Zinc||0.1 mg|
|Pantothenic Acid||0.16 mg||Copper||0.11 mg|
|Beta-carotene||13 mcg||Manganese||3.3 mg|
Is BilBerry Supplement Safe?
Bilberry Awareness and Medical Interactions
While consuming all types of berries is relatively safe, studies have shown that the leaves and extracts of the bilberry contain tannins, which can cause muscle spasms and severe weight loss, if large amounts are consumed. As with any herb, possible medical interactions may occur with other medicines, so it is always good to discuss your diet with your health physician if you have any health concerns or conditions. Since bilberry can reduce blood glucose, it may interact with diabetes drugs or result in hypoglycemia. Bilberries also can reduce blood thinning so be aware of possible interactions with blood thinning drugs or anticoagulants.5
How Bilberry is Used for Treatment and Prevention
The 10 Top Bilberry Benefits
Bilberries have great health benefits due to the compounds inside including Anthocyanins, Resveratrol (health compound in red wine), Vitamin C, Vitamin E, and Ellagic acid. There are many benefits including these top ten:
1. Improves day and night vision for the eyes. Bilberries have amazing antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, the bilberry may benefit glaucoma, cataracts, and vision but more research is warranted. Despite the British pilot story of bilberries consumed for night vision, further research is still needed to substantiate overall eye health benefits. However, there are many other verified benefits of this berry, and many other foods that benefit healthy eyes.6
2. Lowers blood sugar (glucose). Bilberries have been used for controlling blood sugars in people with diabetes. Studies indicate that bilberries can inhibit glucose spikes following high sugar content meals.7
3. Anti-inflammatory: The anthocyanins contained in bilberries have anti-inflammatory benefits. The human body uses inflammation as a protective mechanism but as we age many diseases result in chronic inflammation. The phenolic compounds in bilberries help fight degradation of cell proteins.8
4. Promotes urinary tract health and protects against urinary tract infections. Bilberries have a long past of treating UTI’s. This is due to the anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties of bilberries. Studies show that a treatment can be as simple as drinking 2-3 cups of bilberry leaf tea a day for a week.9
5. Promotes antioxidant defense. The bilberry is an antioxidant powerhouse like cranberries, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, or plums, and is a top antioxidant leader. It’s effective in scavenging free radicals and defending the body against oxidation.10
6. Helps eliminate circulation problems. The cardiovascular system can be subject to many diseases of aging including high blood pressure, high uric acid, raised cholesterol and more. Berries and their berry cousin bilberries have cardioprotective properties attributed to the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects.11
7. Lower the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Early research shows that Alzheimer symptoms may be reduced from the anthocyanins in bilberries. This is promising and more research is warranted.12
8. Effective for treating diarrhea. Bilberries have a colorful past in Europe of helping treat diarrhea. The tannins contained in berries have anti-inflammatory and astringent properties that can decrease intestinal inflammation, thereby, helping with the symptoms of diarrhea.12
9. Helps prevent cancer. Cancer is the result of genetic mutations or damage to the DNA. While many studies have shown the general benefits of consuming more fruit and vegetables to prevent cancer, there is limited research on the benefits of individual foods. Research has demonstrated that berries and even bilberries alone have anticancer properties.13
10. Bilberry benefits for weight loss: According to a study published in Nutrition and Metabolism, the anthocyanins in bilberries interfere with insulin suppressing the genes triggered by high blood glucose levels. By regulating blood sugar levels, the bilberry can impact fat deposits.14
All berries have been a common companion in the human diet for centuries. Of all types of berries, the bilberry contains many health properties but it is especially the anthocyanins that have the broadest health benefits. Given the superfood powers of the bilberry, most people would benefit from adding this marvelous berry to your diet. We would love to hear about your experiences, benefits, and recipes with berries, or specifically bilberries. Share with the LifeSeasons community and support our belief that knowledge is power and our community our life source.
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References: 14. Suzuki, R. et. al, (2011). Anthocyanidins-enriched bilberry extracts inhibit 3T3-L1 adipocyte differentiation via the insulin pathway. Nutrition & metabolism, 8(1), 14.
What is bilberry? It sounds a lot like blueberry, and rightfully so, as it’s a relative to the benefit-rich blueberry and is most commonly used to make jams and pies. But did you now it’s also been used for centuries in medicine and food?
Historically, bilberry fruit was used to treat diarrhea, scurvy and other conditions. Today, the fruit is used as a traditional remedy for diarrhea, eye problems, varicose veins, poor circulation and even cancer prevention.
The bilberry leaf, in addition to the fruit, is used for other conditions, including diabetes. The fruit of the bilberry plant can be eaten just like a blueberry or made into extracts. Similarly, the leaves can be made into extracts or used to make bilberry tea.
What makes this berry so phenomenal is that it contains naturally producing chemicals known as anthocyanosides. Anthocyanosides are plant pigments that have powerful antioxidant properties. One study showed that bilberry had positive effects on vision in lower light environments. (1) These antioxidants scavenge the body for free radicals, with the intention of helping to prevent or reverse damaged cells.
In other studies, bilberry shows many other health benefits such as reducing the risk of heart disease, stroke, cancer and macular degeneration. It also contains vitamin C, which is another powerful immune-boosting benefit. (2)
What Is Bilberry?
The bilberry plant, a low-growing shrub with flowers seen in red, blue and purple colors, is native to Northern Europe and also grows in North America and northern Asia.
Bilberry is also known as European blueberry, whortleberry, huckleberry and blaeberry and is a relative of blueberry, cranberry, and huckleberry. It looks and tastes much like the American blueberry, but is usually a bit smaller, and it is sometimes called blueberry because of their similarity and usually grows in heaths, meadows and moist coniferous forests, thriving best in moderate shade and moderately humid ground conditions.
It is a small fruit coming in at about 5–9 millimeters in diameter, bluish-black in color containing many seeds. The plant is a perennial shrub that grows to about 16 inches in height and has sharp-edged, green branches and black-wrinkled berries that are ripe for picking in late summer.
The usual daily dietary intake of the anthocyanin-producing bilberry is approximately 200 milligrams and has higher anthocyanin content compared to other types of berries, such as strawberry, cranberry, elderberry, sour cherry and raspberry making it a true superfood! Recommended daily dosages vary greatly depending on the form of bilberry you choose.
Most notably, the bilberry, also know as Vaccinium myrtillus L. in the medical world, is one of the richest natural sources of anthocyanins. Anthocyanins are polyphenolic components that give it its blue/black color and super-high antioxidant content.
It’s these powerful anthocyanins that are believed to be the key bioactives responsible for the numerous health benefits of bilberry and similar berry fruits. It is most famous for its ability to improve vision, but it has been reported to lower blood glucose, have anti-inflammatory and lipid-lowering effects, promote antioxidant defense and lower oxidative stress.
This makes the fruit highly sought after in the prevention and treatment of diabetes, inflammation, dyslipidemia, hyperglycemia or increased oxidative stress, cardiovascular disease (CVD), cancer, and dementia in addition to other age-related diseases. (3)
Bilberry contains numerous phenolic compounds, including the flavonols, quercetin and catechins, tannins, ellagitannins and phenolic acids; however, the anthocyanins found in the fruit are, by far, the largest contribution to its phytonutrient density. These phenolic compounds are antioxidants as well as iron chelators, which may help remove heavy metals in the body and used in chelation therapy. (4)
Even though most of the focus is on the antioxidant properties of this fruit, studies have shown that the effects may extend to involve cell-signaling pathways, gene expression, DNA repair and cell adhesion, as well as anti-tumor and antimicrobial effects. (5)
1. Improved Vision
Due to the anthocyanosides, bilberry is widely used to improve night vision or vision handicaps in low light, decreasing vascular permeability and capillary fragility. It was reported that during World War II, British fighter pilots had improved nighttime vision after eating bilberry jam.
Bilberry has been suggested as a treatment for retinopathy, which is damage to the retina. It has also exhibited protective effects against and macular degeneration, glaucoma and cataracts, particularly when used with lutein.
Related: Eye Vitamins and Foods: Are You Getting Enough?
2. Helps Eliminate Circulation Problems
In Europe, health care professionals use bilberry extracts to treat circulation problems, also known as chronic venous insufficiency (CVI). Research suggests that this condition, which occurs when valves in veins in the legs that carry blood to the heart are damaged, may be improved by taking bilberry extract.
Other research suggests that taking bilberry anthocyanins daily for up to six months might improve swelling, pain, bruising and burning associated with CVI. (6)
3. Improves Bad Cholesterol
The amazing anthocyanosides found in bilberries may strengthen blood vessels and prevent the oxidation of LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, a major risk factor for atherosclerosis that is the plaque that blocks blood vessels leading to heart attack and stroke.
A study reported that bilberry enrichment, when compared to black currants, reduced total and LDL-cholesterol levels. In fact, the total anthocyanin content was four times higher in bilberries than in black currants, possibly making it a better choice for reducing LDL cholesterol levels. (7)
4. May Improve the Blood Sugar in Diabetics
Traditionally, bilberry leaves have been used to control blood sugar levels in people with diabetes. Research shows that most berries help reduce the body’s glucose response after eating a high-sugar meal and studies suggest it may be effective for managing blood sugar levels, particularly when combined with oatmeal, though more research is needed. (8)
5. Helps Prevent Cancer
In vitro work and animal tumorigenic models have demonstrated that the anthocyanins in this fruit have cancer-preventive qualities and suppressive activity due to antioxidants; the berries also have anti-inflammatory effects. A commercial anthocyanin-rich extract from bilberry was shown to inhibit the growth of colon cancer cells.
In a DNA study, an anti-inflammatory profile was seen in macrophages treated with a bilberry extract, and since inflammation is an important risk factor for cancer, it may be very useful in its prevention. (9)
6. Effective for Treating Diarrhea
Bilberry has been used in European medicine to treat diarrhea for many years. The fruit contains tannins, substances that act as both an anti-inflammatory and an astringent that helps with constricting and tightening tissues. By reducing intestinal inflammation, it is believed to help with reducing the symptoms of diarrhea.
7. Lowers the Risks of Alzheimer’s Disease
Evidence suggests that fruit and vegetable juices containing various phenolic compounds can reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. In some cases, symptoms of Alzheimer’s was significantly decreased upon treatment with myricetin, quercetin or anthocyanin-rich extracts found in bilberry and showed that behavioral abnormalities may have been alleviated. (10) (11)
Classified as a Class 1 herb by the American Herbal Products Association, which means it can be safely consumed, bilberry is typically sold as fresh, frozen or dried whole berries but is often found in the form of preserves, jams and juices. It’s increasingly seen as liquid or powdered concentrates in the supplements section at the grocery.
It is found as fresh, dried, as a bilberry tea, and as extracts in both liquid and powder forms. When looking for a bilberry extract, it should contain 25 percent anthocyanidin. Because of the powerful claims of this fruit, it is no surprise that common marketing tactics are used to make you think a product is filled with bilberry or, more commonly, the extract. Because of this, there are specific standards that have been developed, but regardless, you need to make sure you are getting the real thing.
Many manufacturers include various berry types, and this predominantly occurs with anthocyanin-rich extracts from other species such as bog bilberry, lingonberry, European elder and Chinese mulberry. It has even been reported that black soybean hull or black rice extracts have been used as well as synthetic colorants like amaranth dye, an azo dye that has been prohibited for use by the FDA as a suspected carcinogen. Always read labels carefully. (13)
Side Effects and Drug Interactions
Bilberry fruit and extract are considered generally safe, with no known side effects. But it is important to be aware of possible side effects. Because the anthocyanosides in this fruit may stop blood from clotting, there may be an increased risk of bleeding if you take bilberry with blood-thinning medication, which includes aspirin.
The whole fruit may be safer than concentrated forms. Ask your doctor before taking bilberry, especially if you take blood-thinning medication, are diabetic, pregnant or breastfeeding. Long-term safety and side effects have not been extensively studied and high doses or extended use of bilberry leaf or leaf extract may be unsafe due to possible toxic side effects. (14) (15)
- Bilberry is a fruit that’s a relative to the benefit-rich blueberry and is most commonly used to make jams and pies.
- Historically, the fruit was used to treat diarrhea, scurvy and other conditions. Today, it is used as a traditional remedy for diarrhea, eye problems, varicose veins, poor circulation and even cancer prevention.
- There are many ways to utilize this fruit, so try it today for a burst of health-promoting compounds and a delicious flavor.