Worried about your blood sugar? Experts recommend checking your magnesium levels
05/20/2019 // Cassie B. // Views

If you’re concerned about diabetes, the first thing your doctor might suggest is getting a blood sugar test. This can certainly identify problems if it comes back outside of the normal range, but there’s another test you might also want to consider no matter how you perform on a fasting glucose test: a magnesium check.

That’s because many experts believe that magnesium deficiencies are behind the growing rates of diabetes in the world. Nearly half of Americans are low in magnesium, and that figure rises to 80 percent when you just look at those over the age of 70. Diabetes and magnesium deficiency often go hand in hand, so it’s well worth paying attention to magnesium if you’re at risk of diabetes or simply if you’re hoping to avoid it.

Magnesium is a mineral that helps to metabolize your insulin and blood glucose, and it plays an important role in more than 300 of your body’s critical functions. For example, it plays a role in protein synthesis, blood pressure, and nerve and muscle function in addition to glucose control.

A study by Israeli researchers published in the journal Nutrients found that people who took 250 mg magnesium supplements daily for three months enjoyed decreased insulin resistance. Their insulin sensitivity improved by 10 percent while their blood sugar levels dropped by 37 percent. The supplementation also caused their levels of HbA1c, which measures long-term blood sugar control, to drop.

A different study, this one carried out by Egyptian researchers and published in Medicine, found that children with type 1 diabetes who supplemented with magnesium noted significant drops in HbA1c, fats in their blood, and bad cholesterol, along with a rise in good cholesterol.


Meanwhile, a study from Harvard University scientists that involved more than 17,000 people with type 2 diabetes spanning nearly 30 years found that people’s risk of diabetes dropped by 4 percent for every extra 50 milligrams per day in magnesium intake. They discovered, for example, that those who had the highest intake of magnesium had a 15 percent lower risk of going on to develop diabetes than those who had the lowest intake of this mineral. The study was published in the journal Diabetes Care.

Get enough magnesium to reduce your diabetes risk

Studies have shown that getting an extra 100 milligrams of magnesium per day is all it takes to reduce your risk of diabetes by 15 to 19 percent. According to the National Institutes of Health, women should strive for 320 milligrams of the mineral daily, while men need around 420 milligrams.

Unfortunately, a deficiency can be hard to spot because the symptoms can be mistaken for other problems. They include fatigue, weakness, anxiety, insomnia and high blood pressure. Even seemingly unrelated problems like recurrent fungal or bacterial infections and migraines can signal a magnesium deficiency. Blood tests can help identify a magnesium deficiency, which is defined as being less than 1.8 mg/dL.

What can you do to make sure you’re getting enough of this important mineral? Obtaining it from food is the best course of action. While supplements do exist, they should only be used in extreme cases because getting too much of it can negatively affect your calcium levels. Turn to foods that are rich in magnesium like cashews, almonds, pumpkin seeds, beans, chickpeas, dark chocolate and leafy greens like kale and spinach.

It is becoming increasingly clear that proper nutrition plays a very big role in disease prevention. Make sure you seek out magnesium-rich foods regularly to avoid suffering from diabetes.

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