Magnesium Fights Diabetes: Study.
It may be the most beneficial nutrient you’re never heard about: magnesium. Past studies have shown it combats everything from heart health to osteoporosis, stroke, memory loss, and depression.
But the latest research adds yet another benefit to magnesium’s greatest hits list — diabetes. A new analysis of studies published in the Journal of Human Nutrition & Food Science reveals dietary magnesium intake combats diabetes and related conditions, such as metabolic syndrome, obesity, high blood pressure, and cholesterol.
The fact that magnesium is inexpensive and readily available is prompting many health experts to call it a medical marvel — even though most people have never heard about its many benefits and doctors are often unable to tell if their patients are at risk of magnesium deficiency.
“It affects every organ, tissue and cell in the body,” says Carolyn Dean, M.D., author of “The Magnesium Miracle” and a Hawaii-based physician and holistic medicine specialist. “Magnesium deficiency is killing people and it's a simple solution to many of our chronic diseases.”
The standard American diet fails to meet the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s recommended daily allowance of magnesium – of 400-420 milligrams per day for men; 310-320 for women — federal government studies show.
Dr. Dean believes health officials and the mainstream medical establishment need to do more to raise public awareness of magnesium’s many benefits.
“100 years ago we were getting 500 milligrams in our daily diet. Today we are lucky to get 200 milligrams, which is about half the very low RDA,” she said. “Most people think that their doctors would have warned them about this problem. But doctors are as ignorant as the public.”
The latest magnesium study, tying the nutrient to reduced diabetes risk, is based on information from the long-running National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. The initiative is designed to evaluate the health and nutritional status of adults and children in the United States — based on surveys and assessments involving of more than 14,000 Americans —conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The landmark analysis found that NHANES study participants who meet the recommended daily magnesium intake are far less likely to be overweight or obese, have diabetes, metabolic syndrome, elevated blood pressure, or high cholesterol, compared to those who don’t meet the minimum standard.
"Our analysis found that dietary intake of magnesium from foods or from food plus supplements was associated with improvements in many diabetes-related health outcomes,” says lead researcher Yanni Papanikolaou, with Nutrition Research at Nutritional Strategies Inc.
“These results further demonstrate the importance of meeting magnesium intake recommendations and illustrate the usefulness of dietary magnesium supplementation when these recommendations cannot be met with diet alone."
Magnesium assists in more than 300 metabolic reactions, helping support bone health, as well as nerve and muscle function, the researchers noted. It also helps convert food to cellular energy.
Sources of dietary magnesium include fruits, green leafy vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and dairy products.
"Insufficiency of micronutrient intake is a global issue," notes co-researcher James Brooks. "Dietary magnesium supplementation, coupled with appropriate food choices, offers an evidence-based option to meet the estimated average requirements.”
Magnesium is found in the body’s muscles, bones, blood, and tissues. It’s involved in regulating everything from blood pressure to heart activity, energy production, nervous system function, metabolism, cell growth, bone density, fat and protein synthesis, muscle strength and metabolism.
It can be taken as a supplement, but is also present in a range of healthy foods, including spinach, fish, yogurt, wheat germ, brown rice, beans, tofu, soybeans and a variety of nuts.
Experts say commercial agricultural processes have depleted the levels of the mineral in soil and in a variety of crops over the past 60 years.
Another problem: Current diagnostic tests don’t provide an accurate indication of whether a patient has magnesium deficiency.
“Doctors don't have the tools to measure magnesium levels properly,” Dr. Dean explains.
The best way to determine if you have a deficiency is to consider the symptoms that Dr. Dean says can “give you a clue.” Among them: muscle cramps, twitching, heart palpitations, migraines, insomnia, angina, irregular heartbeat, asthma, anxiety, gastrointestinal problems, fatigue, poor concentration, depression, and numbness of hands or feet.
“There’s no way of knowing how many factors correlate with any one person’s magnesium deficiency,” Dr. Dean says. “But if you find yourself ticking off a few dozen symptoms, you may want see how many symptoms improve when you take magnesium supplements.”
Federal health officials recommend the following daily levels of magnesium:
• Children 1-3 years old: 80 milligrams/day.
• Children 4-8: 130 mg/day.
• Children 9-13: 240 mg/day.
• Teens 14-18: 410 mg/day (boys); 360 mg/day (girls).
• Adults 19-30: 400 mg/day (men); 310 mg/day (women).
• Adults 31 and over: 420 mg/day (men); 320 mg/day (women). more