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Magnesium Might Ward off Diabetes

Magnesium Might Ward off Diabetes: Main Image
Several measures of healthy blood sugar levels improved in those taking magnesium
A magnesium supplement may improve the blood sugar levels and insulin sensitivity of overweight people at risk for diabetes, according a new study published in Diabetes, Obesity, and Metabolism.

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 new 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

These foods are great sources of magnesium and they're rich in other health-promoting compounds, too.

  • Leafy greens like spinach, chard, turnip greens, mustard greens, kale, and collards
  • Nuts and seeds including almonds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, and sesame seeds
  • Broccoli, blackstrap molasses, halibut, and kelp (seaweed). If these are out of reach, talk with a doctor about a magnesium supplement.

(Diabetes Obes Metab 2011;13:281-4)

Kimberly Beauchamp, ND, received her doctoral degree from Bastyr University, the nation's premier academic institution for science-based natural medicine. She co-founded South County Naturopaths in Wakefield, RI, where she practiced whole family care with an emphasis on nutritional counseling, herbal medicine, detoxification, and food allergy identification and treatment. Her blog, Eat Happy, helps take the drama out of healthy eating with real food recipes and nutrition news that you can use. Dr. Beauchamp is a regular contributor to Healthnotes Newswire.
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