Magnesium is essential for maintaining good health.
With diabetes, it’s particularly important to have enough magnesium in your body because it helps regulate blood sugar and insulin sensitivity.
Here’s the scoop on this powerful mineral and how to get more of it into your diet.
What is magnesium?
This naturally occurring mineral in the body is important for maintaining healthy bones, muscles and nerves. In fact, about 60% of magnesium in your body is found in the bone, with the rest in your soft muscles, tissues and fluids. Unfortunately, most of us are not getting enough magnesium in our diets so additional supplements are often needed.
How do I know if need more magnesium?
Muscle and eye twitches, tremors and cramps are often sign of magnesium deficiency. So is excessive, unexplained fatigue. When you have type 2 diabetes your risk of magnesium deficiency is even higher because people with insulin resistance lose excess amounts of this mineral in their urine. Lower magnesium is usually seen in people with poorly controlled blood glucose, longer duration of the disease, and in those with microvascular and macrovascular complications
Your doctor can do a blood test to determine if you need more magnesium.
What are the health benefits of magnesium?
Magnesium generates energy in the cells, helps muscles contract, and aids in building strong bones. It also regulates blood pressure, stress hormones and your blood sugar level.
Several studies have even suggested a link between magnesium and diabetes prevention. ¹
Magnesium is also useful in helping your body relax and sleep more deeply.
Why is magnesium important for people with diabetes?
Given that people with type 2 diabetes are at increased risk for magnesium deficiency, getting enough magnesium can improve diabetes control. One study showed that people with type 2 diabetes who took magnesium pills had better metabolic control and insulin sensitivity.²
What are the risks and side effects of taking magnesium?
People often assume vitamins and mineral supplements like magnesium are natural and without side effects. But just like prescription medications, supplements can increase the risk of health complications if they’re taken at too high a dose.
Taking excessive amounts of magnesium can lead to low blood pressure, muscle weakness and drowsiness. This mineral can also cause diarrhea, bloating and gas, or upset stomach and vomiting too.
Magnesium can also interact with other medications (e.g., blood thinners) and natural health products.. Magnesium can be especially harmful for people with kidney disease as their kidneys are unable to remove excess amounts of the mineral from the body.
Before starting a magnesium supplement (or any natural health product) check in with your doctor or pharmacist to determine the best dose for you and to make sure that it doesn’t interact with any of your other medications. You can find more information on vitamin and mineral supplements in diabetes here.
How much should I be taking?
Women should get at least 310 to 320 milligrams of magnesium a day, while men require at least 400 mg. Magnesium is found naturally in many foods or can be taken by mouth as a supplement, usually in tablet form.
How can I get more magnesium in my diet?
Fortunately, magnesium is present in many tasty foods. For a magnesium boost in your diet, be sure to load up on leafy greens, legumes, whole grains, soy, nuts and seeds. (Avoid refined grains which are often stripped of the mineral.)
Here are some specific magnesium-rich foods to consider adding to your next meal:
- Black beans
- Swiss chard and kale
- Hemp and pumpkin seeds
- Acorn squash
- Dark chocolate
Water (tap, mineral and bottled) are all sources of magnesium too.
Here are some tips on how to set goals for healthier eating to ensure you’re including foods that are rich in vitamins and minerals.
And here’s are some delicious magnesium-rich recipes to try yourself:
Magnesium and diabetes do go hand in hand. Be sure to add magnesium-rich foods to daily meals and talk to your healthcare provider if you’re concerned about mineral deficiencies.