By now, it should be clear that diet and exercise alone can transform your metabolic health and lengthen your life. But there’s one more piece of the puzzle that’s just as important: nutritional supplements.
The fact is, the right nutrients, in the right combinations, can make or break your fight to balance your blood sugar. And new research shows that two specific nutrients might be the most important weapons in your arsenal.
Unfortunately, most people aren’t getting enough of either one…
Cut blood sugar by a third with vitamin D
Let’s begin with the ally that probably won’t surprise you: vitamin D.
Brazilian researchers recently looked at the vitamin D and blood sugar levels of nearly 700 women between the ages of 35 and 74. And not surprisingly, more than 65 percent had vitamin D levels below 30 ng/mL.
Also not surprising: Having vitamin D levels this low increased the risk of having high fasting blood sugar by nearly 30 percent. But supplementing with vitamin D reduced this likelihood significantly.1
Vitamin D boosts both insulin sensitivity and pancreatic beta cell function. So it only makes sense that it would play a critical role in blood sugar control. But only about three percent of the subjects in this study took vitamin D supplements.
To produce vitamin D naturally, most of your body needs to be exposed to the sun’s UVB rays during the peak sunlight hours of 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. (without toxic sunscreen) for at least 20 minutes a day. But keep in mind, the farther away from the equator you live, the scarcer the UVB rays—especially during these winter months.
That’s why I raise the topic a lot this time of year. Because while the days may be getting longer now, we still have a lot of cold, dark days ahead of us. Which means it’s time to tailor your dosage of vitamin D accordingly.
I recommend taking at least 5,000 IU of vitamin D3 per day—but as you may recall, I personally take 10,000 IU daily. With routine monitoring (which your doctor should be doing anyway), dosages this high are perfectly safe.
And during the winter, when time spent bare-skinned under the sun is out of the question for most people, dosages this high are often necessary—especially if you’re starting out deficient to begin with.
Plus, keep in mind that just about every study out there shows that the sweet spot is a vitamin D level around 80 to 90 ng/mL. The conventional minimum of 30 ng/mL is just that—a bare minimum. If you want optimal results, you need to aim much higher.
So ask to have your vitamin D 25 OH blood level checked. If your levels are too low, get tested by your doctor every six weeks until you reach at least 80 ng/mL. And after that, continue to have your levels tested every six months to make sure it stays where it needs to be.
Slash metabolic risk in just three months
For years, I’ve said that the humble mineral magnesium needs to be part of every diabetes-prevention plan. And research just keeps proving my point. So allow me to share the latest example…
As part of a recent trial, researchers assigned 42 type 2 diabetics (all between the ages of 35 and 60) to one of two groups. The first group took an elemental magnesium supplement every day for three months. The second didn’t supplement at all.
Researchers took blood samples before and after the treatment period, looking at a variety of key metabolic markers—including blood sugar, insulin, HbA1c, and serum calcium and magnesium levels. They also instructed both groups to follow a healthy diet for the duration of the experiment.
By the end of the study, some key differences emerged…
Predictably, magnesium levels were higher among subjects who took supplements, which in turn lowered their calcium-magnesium ratio. But fasting blood sugar, HbA1c levels, and insulin resistance also dropped significantly in this group, compared with controls.
The fact of the matter is, like vitamin D deficiency, magnesium deficiency is now an epidemic. (In fact, given this new information, these two epidemics appear to go hand-in-hand.)
And even people who fill up on magnesium-rich foods—like almonds, spinach, broccoli, and pumpkin seeds—are likely to come up short. Because the soil in our industrialized farms is simply too depleted to grow crops with the same mineral content it used to.
That should be reason enough to add it to your daily regimen. But if you still need convincing, let me give you one more reason…
A natural pair that’s better together
Fact: Your vitamin D supplement is practically useless if you’re not pairing it with magnesium.
That was the takeaway from a recent review in the Journal of the American Osteopathic Association.3 This study found that your body can’t metabolize vitamin D if magnesium levels are low.
Which means that, for half the American population, a whole lot of lifesaving vitamin D is going straight into storage without ever being used. (And that’s a generous estimate—some sources cite that number as being closer to 80 percent.)
But the solution here is simple: Start chasing your daily vitamin D with magnesium—I typically recommend highly absorbable magnesium orotate (32 mg a day) or taurate (125 mg a day). And watch your metabolic health—among other health benefits—soar.
Fight heart disease at the bathroom sink
They say the pen is mightier than the sword. But when it comes to fighting heart disease, it looks like a toothbrush might actually trump them both.
Get this: Researchers recruited more than 160,000 subjects, all between the ages of 40 and 79, from the Korean National Health Insurance system. The goal was to examine the link between oral hygiene and two major cardiovascular killers: atrial fibrillation (the fancy term for irregular heartbeat) and heart failure.
All subjects received a routine medical examination between 2003 and 2004. So researchers had data on their height, weight, lab work, medical history, and lifestyle habits—including their oral hygiene routine.
And with over more than a decade of follow-up, they linked three or more tooth brushings a day to a 10 percent lower risk of atrial fibrillation—and a 12 percent lower risk of heart failure.
Needless to say, these aren’t small reductions. And yes, they were independent of a whole host of other factors—from age, sex, and socioeconomic status, to exercise habits, body mass index (BMI), and comorbid conditions like high blood pressure.
Of course, this is an observational study. Which means it can’t prove that tooth brushing directly reduces heart risk. But there’s certainly a good case to be made for that conclusion.
Not to mention, this is far from the first study to link oral health with cardiovascular health—gum disease has well-known links to both heart disease and diabetes, in particular. (And since inflammation is the common thread that runs through all disease, it’s hardly a surprise.)
But I must say, even I’m impressed by the difference a little extra dental hygiene made…especially since the only thing you have to lose in following suit is a case of bad breath.
The bottom line? Your dentist might be satisfied with two brushes a day. But as a doctor, I recommend more. So keep your toothbrush and non-fluoride toothpaste handy…and brush after eating (or as often as you can)—at least three times a day.
- The North American Menopause Society (NAMS). “Vitamin D could lower the risk of developing diabetes: Study demonstrates role of vitamin D in controlling glycemia.” Science Daily, 01/30/2019. (sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/01/190130075731.htm)
- ELDerawi WA, et al. “The Effects of Oral Magnesium Supplementation on Glycemic Response among Type 2 Diabetes Patients.” Nutrients. 2018 Dec 26;11(1).
- Uwitonze AM, et al. “Role of Magnesium in Vitamin D Activation and Function.” J Am Osteopath Assoc. 2018 Mar 1;118(3):181-189.