Feb 20, 2011

Magnesium may help prevent diabetes

In addition to other diabetes symptoms low magnesium levels have been noted in African Americans and Hispanic adults, two groups that have an increased risk for developing type II diabetes. Researchers have suggested that dietary supplements to prevent diabetes type II development should include magnesium. Here we look at the latest research.

Magnesium is one of the most abundant minerals found in the human body. It is required to perform over 300 different biochemical reactions and is important to the formation and maintenance of strong bones, normal muscle and nerve function, normal heart rhythms and a healthy immune system. Magnesium deficiency was first described in the early 1930s. Inadequate magnesium intake (less than 300-400 mg/day) has been associated with cardiovascular disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and other health problems.

Over the last year, much research has focused on the prevention of type two diabetes symptoms, low magnesium levels and the importance of supplements to prevent diabetes. The role of magnesium that is specifically related to diabetes is unclear, but according to recent studies of type two diabetes symptoms low magnesium levels may reduce insulin sensitivity in the cells.

Food of all types, not just sweet foods or carbohydrates are converted by the stomach into glucose, which the cells use for energy. Without glucose in the cells, people tire easily and the muscles and organs cannot function properly. Without insulin, the glucose is trapped in the blood stream and cannot enter the cells.

In response to increased blood glucose levels that follow a meal, increased insulin production should be seen. Researchers have measured blood levels of insulin, as well as blood glucose levels in non-diabetics after fasting, in order to establish a norm. Recently they have measured fasting levels of magnesium, as well, in an effort to design supplements to prevent diabetes type II.

In type I diabetes, people do not produce insulin and must inject insulin on a regular basis. In type II diabetes, a combination of insulin resistance or reduced insulin sensitivity and a reduction in insulin production causes higher concentration of glucose in the blood stream. Eventually, people with type II diabetes may also need insulin injections to deal with high blood glucose levels. Supplements to prevent diabetes type II should promote insulin production and secretion, as well as improve insulin sensitivity in the cells.

Insulin resistance or reduced insulin sensitivity simply means that the cells of the body do not recognize insulin as they should. Dietary supplements to prevent diabetes 2 should include magnesium, but also provide nutrients that support insulin production and improve insulin sensitivity.

To prevent the onset of type II diabetes symptoms low magnesium levels may need to be addressed early on in life, particularly if there is a family history of the condition. Recently certain genes have been identified that may help scientists identify those people who are at risk, but it will be many years before genetic testing is commonplace or able to make those predictions accurately. But, the research does support the long held belief that type II diabetes does “run in families”.

The chemical process by which the cells respond to insulin is complex, but you can think of insulin as opening a door in the cells that allow glucose to enter. Without sufficient insulin production, glucose cannot enter the cells and be used for energy. Instead, glucose builds up in the bloodstream, causing eventual damage to the organs and muscles of the body.

In type II diabetes, there may be sufficient insulin production, at least in the early stages, but for some reason the cells do not recognize and respond appropriately to the insulin. Glucose still builds up in the bloodstream and eventually causes damage.

In several studies concerning the prevention of type II diabetes symptoms low magnesium levels have been discussed.

In the Nutritional Epidemiology Program over 1700 men and women without diabetes participated. Researchers demonstrated that those people with higher intakes of dietary magnesium also had higher fasting insulin levels. The researchers concluded that higher magnesium may reduce the risk of developing type II diabetes. If you are at risk for developing the condition and the amount you get from your daily diet is questionable, appropriate amounts of magnesium should be included in your supplements to prevent diabetes type II.

Another study at the Obesity Research Center in New York showed that in people with diabetes symptoms low magnesium levels were also present. Individuals who had diabetes had significantly lower levels of magnesium in their blood streams than did those with normal fasting glucose levels. This study focused specifically on two ethnic groups (African Americans and Hispanic Americans) that have an increased risk for type II diabetes.

In another study, a chemical was used to induce diabetes in laboratory rats. An increase in blood glucose levels, blood cholesterol levels, blood pressure and fat to body weight ratio were all noted, while magnesium levels decreased. After administration of magnesium for eight weeks, all of these factors returned to normal levels. Researchers concluded that magnesium may play a part in the management of diabetes and the prevention of its vascular complications.

In addition to the relationship to type II diabetes symptoms low magnesium levels may be associated with metabolic syndrome.

Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of metabolic abnormalities that increase the risk of developing heart disease and type II diabetes. According to the Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University in Boston there is currently no firm consensus on the most appropriate dietary recommendations for the prevention and treatment of metabolic syndrome, but general guidelines have been established, including decreasing obesity, increasing physical activity and reducing intake of saturated and trans fats. The Center also states that additional supplements that may be important include calcium, vitamin D and magnesium.

Many companies sell supplements to prevent diabetes type II. Magnesium is only one important ingredient. In order for these supplements to be effective, the manufacturers must do the research concerning bioavailability, delivery and ingredients.

(Healthcare Updates)
Photo: Uremic Frost.
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