Magnesium and Diabetes

The link between magnesium and diabetes is a function of magnesium’s role in insulin production and digestion. Magnesium is necessary to maintain proper blood sugar levels in the body. It accomplishes this by several means.

First, magnesium plays a major role in activating the enzymes the body uses to digest and assimilate macronutrients. Proper digestion and assimilation is important for uptake of nutrients because the body will continue to experience hunger when it has not absorbed enough nutrients from foods.

Magnesium is required for producing insulin, and for its function and transport.1 This is significant for blood sugar because magnesium is critical to the biochemical reaction that enables insulin to transport glucose into cells for energy production. If the body lacks magnesium, then levels of insulin and glucose rise. Excess glucose can be stored as fat, which contributes to obesity, and excess insulin is a risk factor for diabetes.

There have been significant increases in obesity among the US population, including pre-diabetic conditions in adults and children, and type II diabetes among children and young adults. At least one study links low magnesium levels to insulin resistance in obese children.2

Magnesium, Diabetes and Syndrome X

Dr. Carolyn Dean, author of The Magnesium Miracle, in discussing the magnesium-diabetes connection, describes “syndrome X” (also known as “metabolic syndrome”) as a set of conditions that can be described as the consequences of long-term nutritional deficiency, particularly magnesium deficiency.3 She explains that magnesium deficiency initiates disturbed insulin metabolism that can lead to insulin resistance, and eventually to diabetes, angina, and heart attack.4

Metabolic syndrome is characterized by elevation of glucose levels. Elevated glucose levels contribute to the development of obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular conditions, and the glycation of proteins (causing kidney damage, neuropathy, blindness, and other complications). Insulin resistant cells resist magnesium uptake, thereby exacerbating magnesium deficiency. Greater magnesium deficiency can lead to hypertension and higher cholesterol levels, which are associated with heart disease.5

Dr. Dean suggests that magnesium deficiency may be an independent predictor of diabetes. It is known that diabetics require more magnesium and that they become magnesium deficient more easily than most people.6 Low magnesium levels occur in up to forty percent of diabetic patients.7


Using Magnesium for Diabetes

Magnesium plays a major role in blood sugar regulation.

Magnesium is required for many functions that contribute to keeping blood sugar within normal range (including the activation of enzymes in the digestive tract and the production and function of insulin), and it is important that magnesium levels be kept sufficiently high.

Given the links between diabetes and magnesium deficiency, adequate levels of magnesium are especially recommended for diabetics and those at risk.  Not only does adequate magnesium intake help to regulate and maintain proper blood sugar levels, but also prevent deficiencies associated with elevated glucose levels, obesity, metabolic syndrome, and diabetes.

  1. Dean, Carolyn, MD, ND. The Magnesium Miracle (2007 ed.), 124. []
  2. Sircus, Mark, Ac., OMD. Transdermal Magnesium Therapy (2007), 136. []
  3. Dean, 120. []
  4. Dean, 120. []
  5. Dean, 121. []
  6. Dean, 124. []
  7. Dean, 125. []

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