Magnesium and DiabetesMagnesium plays a role in more than 300 biochemical activities in the body, and several of those activities are associated with magnesium metabolism, insulin, and glucose. Therefore, if blood (or plasma) levels of magnesium drop too low, anyone who has diabetes may expect to experience some difficulties.
The authors went on to explain that people with Type 2 diabetes who are deficient in magnesium are more insulin resistant and have reduced activity in their beta cells, which are the insulin-producing cells. Magnesium supplementation, however, has been shown to improve glucose metabolism, oxidative stress, systemic inflammation, magnesium deficiency, and sensitivity to insulin. At the same time, low dietary intake of magnesium has been associated with the development of Type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome.
Do You Have Low Magnesium Levels?Approximately 75 percent of people in the United States don’t get the Recommended Daily Allowance of magnesium, so chances are you are low in this important mineral, and that includes people with type 2 diabetes. Carolyn Dean, MD, ND, notes that some experts are calling for more money to “determine the need for supplementation,” yet magnesium is an “extremely safe mineral” so why not use that money to ensure people with Type 2 diabetes, and others, get more magnesium in their diet and through supplementation.
You can have your magnesium levels checked using a blood test. Normal values of plasma magnesium concentration are 1.7 to 2.1 mg/dL, 0.7 to 0.9 mmol/L, or 1.4 to 1.8 mEq/L. Different labs use different measuring standards, so be sure to discuss your findings with your healthcare provider.
Magnesium levels also are affected by the use of certain medications. Drugs that can decrease magnesium levels include antibiotics, cyclosporine, digoxin, diuretics, insulin, laxatives, and phenytoin. Those that can cause magnesium levels to increase include antibiotics (yes, these drugs can have both effects), aspirin, thyroid medication, and products that contain magnesium, such as antacids.
Magnesium supplements are available in several forms, including tablets, capsules, lotions, bath salts, and oil. When taking an oral magnesium supplement, the mineral will be bound to other substances, which allows the body to better absorb and utilize the nutrient. Examples include magnesium citrate, magnesium glycinate, magnesium chelate, magnesium chloride, and magnesium oxide. The latter form is not well absorbed and may cause loose stools.
Topical magnesium in the form of lotion, gel, bath salts, or oil (all as magnesium chloride) bypasses the digestive system (important for anyone who may experience side effects from oral magnesium) and is absorbed directly into the cells. If you’re not big on pills, then topical magnesium is a great alternative.
Great sources of dietary magnesium include leafy greens, pumpkin seeds, kefir, avocado, black beans, bananas, figs, dark chocolate, almonds, artichokes, and cashews.