Magnesium May Reduce Diabetes Rates

A diet with foods rich in magnesium may reduce rates of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and all-cause mortality.

Could magnesium have a positive effect on health by reducing the risk of ailments, such as cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes, as well as all-cause mortality?

Although researchers have published ambivalent findings in studies on those topics, a research team from China set out to look at whether the dosing matters.

Xuexian Fang of the Department of Nutrition, Nutrition Discovery Innovation Center at the School of Medicine at Zhengzhou University and colleagues took a retrospective look at 40 prospective cohort studies, with more than 1 million participants in 9 countries. Their dose-response analysis showed that the amount of magnesium consumed was important.

“Magnesium plays an important role in maintaining human health,” the researchers wrote.

They concluded that 100-mg per day reduces stroke by 7%, heart failure by 22%, type 2 diabetes by 19% and all-cause mortality by 10%. There was no proven benefit for total cardiovascular disease, however.

Magnesium is found in green leafy vegetables. Spices, nuts, beans and cocoa are also rich sources.

Eating spinach is not enough, however, the team wrote. Spinach has about 24 gm of magnesium per cup. People would do just as well to eat chocolate, since there are about the same number of grams in a tablespoon of cocoa.

Even better, a cup of salted, roasted, oily mixed nuts has more than 307 grams of magnesium, although that amount also packs more than 800 calories. The authors believe that it is more efficient to take oral supplements, or even an intravenous magnesium infusion.

Their analysis showed that adult men need 350-mg per day and women need 300-mg per day.

“The daily requirement for magnesium is difficult to achieve through a single serving of any one food item,” they noted, so “consuming a wide variety of magnesium-rich food will help ensure adequate daily intake of magnesium.”

Magnesium has been found to improve insulin sensitivity and glucose control in both people with diabetes and non-diabetics, Fang wrote.

The mineral is found mostly in skeletal tissue and controls the function of many enzymes, including those that utilize or synthesize adenosine triphosphate (ATP) a nucleoside triphosphate, a small molecule used in cells as a coenzyme involved in cellular energy production and transfer.

A randomized clinical trial is needed to definitely establish whether the team's findings hold up, the authors wrote.

The study was published in BioMed Central and was funded by the National Natural Science Foundation of China and the Zhejiang Provincial Natural Science Foundation. Both fund both basic research and applied science projects.