Why Adequate Magnesium Is A Must-Have With Diabetes

To lower the risk for type 2 diabetes, or decrease the risk for heart disease and stroke with diabetes, we need an adequate daily supply of magnesium.

As many as three out of four people in the U.S. don’t get enough magnesium. That’s a problem when over 300 enzymes that perform muscle and nerve functions rely on magnesium to regulate insulin and glucose levels, relax blood vessels, form bones,  and sustain our energy.

Magnesium, Diabetes, and Heart Health

There is abundant scientific evidence demonstrating magnesium’s contribution to insulin sensitivity, and glucose regulation. For instance, three studies from 2013 showed that:

  • Most people with pre-diabetes had inadequate magnesium intake, and high magnesium consumption lowered glucose and metabolic problems by 71 percent.
  • High magnesium intake reduced impaired glucose and insulin metabolism in middle-age participants, and slowed progression from pre-diabetes to type 2 diabetes.
  • Magnesium intake protected against type 2 diabetes in the general Japanese population, even when people had insulin resistance, low-grade inflammation, and (or) a drinking habit.

More recently, researchers in China found more than a million people in nine countries who ingested the most magnesium had a 26 percent lesser risk for type 2 diabetes, a 12 percent lower risk for stroke, and a 10 percent reduced risk for heart disease. Yet, the link between magnesium and cardiovascular health should not be surprising, as it’s been suspected for a long time.

As early as 1937, low magnesium levels were thought by researchers to be responsible for high blood pressure, arterial plaque buildup, artery hardening, and the calcification of soft tissues. “This means we have been chasing our tails all of these years going after cholesterol and the high saturated-fat diet, when the true culprit was and still is low magnesium,” wrote researcher Dr. Mildred Seelig.

Magnesium Rich Foods

While some researchers and physicians recommend taking magnesium supplements to protect our health, there are plenty of foods to enjoy that provide this important mineral:

  • Green veggies: broccoli, Brussels sprouts, spinach, Swiss chard, collard greens, turnip and beet greens, kale, bok choy, romaine lettuce.
  • Fatty fish, such as wild-caught Alaskan salmon.
  • Nuts and seeds, including flaxseed, pumpkin and sunflower seeds, cashews, almonds, and Brazil nuts.
  • Herbs and spices, such as chives, cumin, coriander, mustard seeds, parsley, fennel, cloves, and basil.
  • Other foods: avocados, fruits and berries, raw cacao, and squash.

Eating plenty of magnesium rich foods is especially necessary for those with diabetes as people with insulin resistance tend to excrete a lot of magnesium in their urine. This excretion can create a vicious cycle of low magnesium levels that contribute to elevated insulin and blood sugar, which leads to more magnesium excretion, and greater magnesium deficiency.

Getting Enough

Since most of the body’s magnesium takes up residence in our bones and soft tissues, there is no simple blood test for magnesium levels. Early signs of a deficiency include loss of appetite, headaches, nausea, vomiting, weakness, or fatigue. Later symptoms include abnormal heart rhythms, muscle cramps, numbness, tingling, seizures, and personality changes.

None of the consequences of magnesium deficiency sound too pleasant, so if there are few greens, nuts, seeds, or fatty fish in your diet, magnesium supplementation might be in order. To be safe, check with a doctor or dietitian first if you’re on a prescribed diet, are taking medications, or are pregnant. 

Sources: Mercola; Mercola
Photo credit: Plat

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