Magnesium and Diabetes

What is Magnesium?

Magnesium is the fourth most abundant mineral in the body and is essential to good health. Approximately 50% of its total in the body is found in bone. The other half is found predominantly inside cells of body tissues and organs. Only 1% of it is found in blood, but the body works very hard to keep blood levels at its constant.

It is needed for more than 300 biochemical reactions in the body. It helps maintain normal muscle and nerve function, keeps heart rhythm steady, supports a healthy immune system, and keeps bones strong. It also helps regulate blood sugar levels, promotes normal blood pressure, and is known to be involved in energy metabolism and protein synthesis. There is an increased interest in its role in preventing and managing disorders such as hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes. Dietary magnesium is absorbed in the small intestines. It is excreted through the kidneys.

Magnesium and Diabetes

The mineral plays an important role in carbohydrate metabolism. It may influence the release and activity of insulin. Individuals with poorly-controlled diabetes may benefit from its supplements because of increased its loss in urine associated with hyperglycemia.

Low blood levels of the mineral (hypomagnesemia) are frequently seen in individuals with type 2 diabetes. Hypomagnesemia may worsen insulin resistance, a condition that often precedes diabetes, or may be a consequence of insulin resistance. Individuals with insulin resistance do not use insulin efficiently and require greater amounts of insulin to maintain blood sugar within normal levels. The kidneys possibly lose their ability to retain the mineral during periods of severe hyperglycemia (significantly elevated blood glucose). Its increased loss in urine may then result in lower its levels in the blood. In older adults, correcting its depletion may improve insulin response and action

Signs of Magnesium Deficiency

Early sign of deficiency include loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, and weakness. As the deficiency worsens, numbness, tingling, muscle contractions and cramps, seizures, personality changes, abnormal heart rhythms, and coronary spasms can occur. Severe deficiency can result in low levels of calcium in the blood (hypocalcemia). The deficiency is also associated with low levels of potassium in the blood (hypokalemia).

Many of these symptoms are general and can result from a variety of medical conditions other than its deficiency. It is important to have a physician evaluate health complaints and problems so that appropriate care can be given.

Foods Provide Magnesium

Green vegetables such as spinach are good sources of the mineral because the center of the chlorophyll molecule (which gives green vegetables their color) contains it. Some legumes (beans and peas), nuts and seeds, and whole, unrefined grains are also good sources. Refined grains are generally low in it. When white flour is refined and processed, the germ and bran are removed. Bread made from whole grain wheat flour provides more of the mineral than bread made from white refined flour. Tap water can be a source, but the amount varies according to the water supply. Water that naturally contains more minerals is described as "hard". "Hard" water contains more the mineral than "soft" water.

Extra Magnesium

Eating a variety of whole grains, legumes, and vegetables (especially dark-green, leafy vegetables) every day will help provide recommended intakes and maintain normal storage levels of this mineral. Increasing its dietary intake can often restore mildly depleted the levels. However, increasing dietary intake of the mineral may not be enough to restore its very low levels to normal.

When blood levels of the mineral are very low, intravenous replacement is usually recommended. Tablets also may be prescribed, although some forms can cause diarrhea. It is important to have the cause, severity, and consequences of low blood levels of the mineral evaluated by a physician, who can recommend the best way to restore the levels to normal. Because people with kidney disease may not be able to its excrete excess amounts, they should not consume such supplements unless prescribed by a physician.

Magnesium & Diabetes


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