Best Diabetes Specialist San Diego –
Dr. Jason Shumard, D.C.
Low magnesium levels are commonly found in people with diabetes, but little attention is focused on it. Magnesium is an essential mineral necessary for the processing of glucose and glucose communication between cells. It’s status is often overlooked due to a lack of clear cut guidelines on exactly how much magnesium (Mg) is needed for optimal health and a lack of a biomarker reference interval based on health outcome. It is known that magnesium values are lower in individuals with diabetes, in hyperglycemia and in insulin resistance.
Magnesium deficiency can worsen diabetes by causing further oxidative stress and inflammation.
Magnesium and Diabetes
For every 100 mg per day increase in magnesium intake, up to a point, the risk of developing type 2 diabetes decreases by approximately 15 percent. Glucose regulation can be improved by taking a 300 mg- 365 mg magnesium supplement according to some sources. Evidence from randomized controlled trials (RCT) of oral Mg supplementation suggests that increasing Mg intakes may improve glycemic control and insulin sensitivity in persons with Mg deficiency. Studies also show reduced magnesium levels are related to an increase in diabetic complications.
There is considerable evidence that chronic magnesium supplementation may delay the progression from impaired glucose regulation to type 2 diabetes.
Over 300 biochemical reactions depend on adequate magnesium concentrations. Magnesium plays a role in bone and blood pressure regulation, muscle contraction and energy production. But, for our purposes, magnesium plays a pivotal role in carbohydrate metabolism and the reduction of insulin resistance.
Magnesium facilitates the function of the GLUT4 transporter. GLUT4 is the insulin-regulated glucose transporter found primarily in adipose tissues and striated muscle (skeletal and cardiac). Several enzymes participating in the synthesis of carbohydrates and lipids require magnesium for their activity. Glutathione, an important antioxidant, requires magnesium for its synthesis and, recall, diabetes is an inflammatory disease characterized by a high degree of oxidative stress.
Magnesium is required for oxidative phosphorylation and glycolysis, both important metabolic activities in diabetes.
Food High in Magnesium
Adults require 310-420 mg/magnesium per day, the lower value for females and the higher value for males. Values increase for pregnancy and breastfeeding.
Foods high in magnesium include:
- Almonds (80 mg per serving)
- Spinach (78 mg per serving)
- Cashews (74 mg per serving)
- Peanuts (63 mg per serving)
- Cereals (61 mg per serving)
- Black beans (60 mg per serving)
- Salmon (26 mg per serving)
Almost half of the US population in 2005 consumed inadequate magnesium amounts in their diets. The most recent government survey showed that this number had jumped to 68% of the population consuming less than adequate amounts of the healing nutrient, magnesium.
Signs of a Magnesium Deficiency
- Twitches or muscle cramps. Facial twitches may be noticed or charley horses in the calves are common indicators of a low magnesium level. In severe deficiencies seizures or convulsions may be present.
- Mental issues. A deficiency may cause emotional numbness, delirium, depression or even coma.
- Osteoporosis or osteopenia.
- Fatigue or muscle weakness. Scientists believe the weakness is caused by a lack of potassium in the cells, a condition associated with magnesium deficiency.
- High blood pressure.
- Asthma. Asthmatic events may escalate and increase in severity.
- Arrhythmias or irregular heartbeat. This is by far one of the most worrisome side-effects of a magnesium deficiency. Scientists believe that an imbalance of potassium levels inside and outside of heart muscle cells may be to blame, a condition associated with magnesium deficiency. Arrhythmias increase the risk of stroke or heart failure.
Magnesium comes in several forms, magnesium oxalate, magnesium carbonate, magnesium citrate. For best absorption you would want to choose magnesium citrate. Magnesium oxalate is often used to treat constipation because of its poor absorbability, so read the labels of supplement if you choose to take one.
Consume foods high in magnesium but studies show it is very difficult to get all of the magnesium we need from food alone, particularly in the presence of a chronic disease that may be using more of this nutrient than otherwise needed.
The take home message is to pay attention to your magnesium intake and assure that your levels are adequate. Multivitamins rarely have the required magnesium in them so don’t think just because you are taking a multi you are safe. Oftentimes magnesium supplementation is an add on supplement to an already existing supplement routine or to a well-balanced diet. Magnesium can truly be a miracle molecule, particularly for those struggling with diabetes.
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