Magnesium is necessary to live an overall healthy and balanced life, but even more essential to your health if you are at risk of developing diabetes. Because of the role it plays at a cellular level in the body, it is now recognized as an important preventative measure, particularly for type 2 diabetes.
Types of Diabetes and How It Affects the Body
Diabetes generally has to do with the body’s production and use of the hormone insulin.
Insulin, for those who don’t know, is a hormone made by the pancreas, which allows the glucose from the food we eat to be accessed by the body and turned into energy. The International Diabetes Federation defines it as a key that unlocks glucose from our food, and helps glucose get into cells.
There are 3 main types of diabetes: type 1, type 2, and gestational.
Type 1 is most commonly found in children and adolescents, although it can develop at any age. This type of diabetes is the result of the body producing little or no insulin, meaning that these patients need regular injections of insulin in order to keep healthy levels of blood glucose.
Type 2 diabetes makes up 90% of all diabetes cases. The difference in these cases is that instead of not producing enough insulin, the body does not make proper use of the insulin it does produce. The treatment prescribed to type 2 diabetes patients is often based on lifestyle changes — more exercise, healthy diet, etc. Eventually, however, most people will begin to need oral medications and/or insulin to maintain good levels of blood glucose.
Gestational diabetes (GDM) is a condition that involves elevated levels of blood glucose during pregnancy, and can result in health complications for both mother and baby. It usually resolves after pregnancy, but the woman affected as well as her child may be at risk to develop type 2 diabetes later in life.
Over time, not being able to produce adequate amounts of insulin, or being unable to properly use it leads to high levels of glucose in the blood (hyperglycaemia), which can cause damage to the body in general, as well as to the failure of certain tissues and organs.
Magnesium as a Preventative Measure
Insulin resistance, a concern for many diabetics, is when the body becomes “immune” to insulin, meaning that it can no longer even metabolize glucose. Over time, the body will continue to produce insulin, but because it can’t serve its proper purpose, it builds up and can begin to cause more long term damage to blood cells, which can result in heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure, and even osteoporosis.
In order to prevent this, magnesium is essential.
Magnesium deficiency could worsen the effects of insulin resistance, which is just another reason to keep your magnesium levels high if you are at risk of developing diabetes.
Magnesium’s relationship to insulin is such that insulin helps magnesium move in and out of cells, and once inside cells, magnesium helps insulin to be effective in allowing the cells to consume glucose and use it for energy. Unsurprisingly, this means that a lack of intracellular magnesium (magnesium in cells) impairs the function of insulin, and aggravates the effects of insulin resistance.
Another thing that patients need to be aware of is the fact that magnesium stores are easily depleted during periods of high blood glucose.
Magnesium and Type 2 Diabetes
Magnesium deficiency is more common in those with type 2 diabetes, although it can happen to anyone. This is because of the low magnesium associated with insulin resistance, as well as heightened magnesium loss through urine as a result of hyperglycemia (high blood sugar).
Taking magnesium not only addresses the deficiency found in so many type 2 diabetes patients, it also helps regulate blood sugar, and improve the body’s response to insulin.
The most important thing to understand about type 2 diabetes patients taking magnesium, is magnesium’s role in promoting insulin sensitivity. Like we mentioned before, the problem for type 2 diabetics is not the production of insulin, but the proper use of it. Magnesium helps insulin do its job in the body effectively.
Most studies have found that magnesium exerts a number of positive effects on diabetic patients, but more research is needed to determine the full extent of the benefits magnesium could have for glucose control.
Why Supplement Magnesium?
Those with diabetes may benefit from magnesium supplementation for a number of reasons.
Magnesium is easily lost through urine as a result of high blood sugar in many cases, but that’s not the only reason it’s important to keep those magnesium levels up.
If you have pre-diabetes, magnesium may even help to prevent it from progressing to type 2 diabetes.
The mineral also keeps intracellular magnesium levels high, improves insulin sensitivity, helps carbohydrate metabolism, and plays a role in insulin activity in the blood. In order to support all these functions, make sure you’re drinking your Natural Calm, and filling up on your magnesium rich foods.