The super nutrient
Magnesium is an essential mineral to human health. It helps lower blood pressure, correct abnormal heart rhythms, build strong bones, and relax muscles. People with type 2 diabetes tend to have low levels of magnesium, and supplementing with it may help optimize insulin production. However, little is known about the effects of magnesium in people who are at risk for diabetes, but who test in the normal range for magnesium levels in the blood.
Lowering diabetes risk, naturally
In pre-diabetes, the body still manufactures insulin, but the tissues become less responsive to it. This phenomenon is referred to as insulin resistance. Together with being overweight and having mildly elevated blood sugar levels, these factors increase the chance that a person will develop diabetes.
The study investigated the effects of supplemental magnesium in people at increased risk for developing type 2 diabetes. Fifty-seven people between ages 30 and 70 who were at risk for diabetes took part in the six-month study. They were given either 365 mg of magnesium (as magnesium aspartate hydrochloride) each day or a placebo. Insulin sensitivity, blood pressure, blood fats (cholesterol and triglycerides), and blood sugar levels were tested at the beginning and end of the study.
After six months, several measures of healthy blood sugar levels improved significantly in the magnesium group. Blood pressure improved to a small extent in the magnesium group, but blood fats did not change.
“It can be speculated that magnesium may act as a natural insulin sensitizer even under conditions of well-balanced magnesium status,” commented Dr. Frank Christoph Mooren, lead author of the study from the Justus Liebig University, Germany.
It’s easy to eat your magnesium
To get more magnesium and other healthful nutrients into your diet, eat more of the following foods:
Leafy greens like spinach, chard, turnip greens, mustard greens, kale, and collards
Nuts and seeds including almonds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, and sesame seeds
Legumes such as black beans and edamame
Some breakfast cereals, especially ones containing the words “bran” and “germ,” or other foods fortified with magnesium
If these foods aren't a good option for you, talk to a doctor about a magnesium supplement; keep in mind magnesium supplements can have a laxative effect, so don't go beyond doctor-recommended amounts
(Diabetes Obes Metab 2011;13:281–4)