The Link between Magnesium Intake and Diabetes

According to a study conducted by Dr Ka He and his colleagues from the University of North Carolina, having proper magnesium intake can help prevent an individual from developing diabetes.

However, before discussing the relationship between magnesium intake and diabetes mellitus, perhaps it would be better to have further understanding of what magnesium is.

So What is Magnesium?

Magnesium is an element that is the eleventh most abundant in the human body in terms of mass. Magnesium ions are needed by all living cells. In the cells, magnesium facilitates the manipulation of significant physiological polyphosphate compounds such as DNA (also known as deoxyribonucleic acid) and RNA (also known as ribonucleic acid), as well as ATP (also known as Adenosine-5′-triphosphate). Several enzymes in the human body need magnesium ions in order to be able to function properly.

Compounds of magnesium are also used in the medical field to treat abnormal nerve excitation along with blood vessel spasms by stabilizing the nerves and blood vessels. Compounds of this element may also be used as laxatives or antacids. Excellent sources of magnesium include vegetables, spices, nuts, cocoa, tea, coffee and cereals among many others. For vegetables, people should look particularly for green, leafy vegetables, because they can also be excellent sources of magnesium.  This is linked to the plants’ chlorophyll.

With Increased Magnesium Intake, Diabetes Risk Declines According to Research

What Dr Ka He discovered was that, over the span of two decades, people who took in more magnesium reduced their risk of getting diabetes by 50% compared with those who consumed little or no magnesium at all. The results of this study may now be able to explain the reason or the link as to why there is lesser occurrence of diabetes among consumers of whole grains, a kind of food high in magnesium. Nonetheless, despite the results, the researchers pointed out that in order to establish fully the causal relationship between the two factors they needed to perform the experiment to a larger and more diverse population. According to this study, which was published in Diabetes Care, it could be that since magnesium plays a huge role in the management of hundreds of enzymes in the human body, this compound indirectly affects the processing of glucose in the body. Therefore, if magnesium efficiently facilitates the proper functioning of the enzymes, these enzymes in charge of processing blood sugar will be able to do so efficiently as well. The study was done to 4,497 male and female participants, 18 to 30 years of age, with none of them diagnosed to have diabetes at the beginning of the study. After 20 years, they were checked again and the researchers found that 330 of them have developed diabetes. The researchers also realized that the participants who had the highest amount of magnesium intake were 47% less likely to acquire diabetes against those who had the lowest magnesium intake. Inflammation, as well as insulin resistance, also decreases as magnesium intake increases.


He Ka, MD, ScD et al. Magnesium Intake in Relation to Systemic Inflammation, Insulin Resistance, and the Incidence of Diabetes. Diabetes Care. doi: 10.2337/dc10-0994

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