The Importance of Magnesium in Diabetes Management

Low levels of magnesium have been associated with type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome, and low levels may contribute to the formation of calcium plaques in arteries, a risk for heart attack. Having diabetes can result in an increased excretion of magnesium as well, so getting enough magnesium should be a clear priority.

If you’ve ever had, or longed for, mag wheels on your car, or powdered your hands before mounting the uneven parallel bars, you’re already a magnesium lover. But aside from hundreds of industrial and pharmaceutical uses (for example, milk of magnesia), magnesium is essential to health and life.

Magnesium, for instance, works hand in hand with more than 300 enzymes to facilitate biochemical reactions, including those that create adenosine triphosphate, the energy molecule made from carbohydrates and the other macronutrients, and in assembling DNA, the molecule that carries the instructions for building and operating you.

Adequate levels of magnesium play a role in controlling blood pressure, too, and increasing dietary intake is a key element of the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) eating plan.

The recommended dietary allowance for magnesium is 320 milligrams per day (mg/d) for women, and 420 mg/d for men, and surveys tend to show that American adults don’t get enough magnesium in their diets. White fish, dark greens, broccoli, beans of all varieties, almonds, pumpkin seeds, artichokes, rice and barley, and wheat bran or whole wheat flour are all rich in magnesium.

Eating a balanced diet of whole foods provides the appropriate level of magnesium for most people. The upper limit for magnesium from supplements has been set at 350 mg/d, but unless diabetes is poorly controlled supplementation is probably not necessary.

Your doctor should decide whether you need a magnesium supplement or not, and that may depend upon medication, other conditions such as Crohn’s disease, alcohol abuse, infections, or the status of calcium and potassium levels in your blood.

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