We are often asked about magnesium for diabetes, and in good news, Natural Calm is a very effective magnesium supplement for diabetes management and even prevention.
A couple of weeks ago I met a 52 year old gentleman who had been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when he was 10 years old. He now is struggling with many other related health issues, including leg spasms, high cholesterol and elevated blood pressure.
Magnesium is an essential mineral for everyone, and plays many important roles in your health, but it is particularly essential for anyone at risk of a metabolic disease, including diabetes.
That’s because magnesium helps to manage insulin and carbohydrate metabolism. It’s involved in your body’s ability to secrete insulin and may help your cells use insulin more effectively.
Read on to learn more about magnesium for diabetes.
Types of Diabetes
Diabetes is a condition related to the body’s production and use of the hormone insulin, as we’ll discuss below.
There are 3 main types of diabetes: type 1, type 2, and gestational.
Type 1 Diabetes
Most commonly found in children and adolescents (although it can develop at any age), Type 1 diabetes occurs when the body produces little or no insulin. People with type 1 diabetes regular require injections of insulin to keep healthy levels of blood glucose.
Type 2 Diabetes
Type 2 makes up 90% of all diabetes cases. Those with type 2 diabetes do produce enough insulin, but does not make proper use of insulin. Lifestyle can improve type 2 diabetes outcomes. Eventually, however, most people will begin to need oral medications and/or insulin to maintain healthy levels of blood glucose.
Gestational diabetes (GDM)
GMD 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 of developing type 2 diabetes later in life.
In this article we’ll also talk about “pre-diabetes“, also known as “borderline diabetes”. Pre-diabetes is characterized by high blood glucose levels and usually precedes a type 2 diabetes diagnosis.
Diabetes & Insulin Resistance
Before we can understand the role of magnesium in diabetes, we must understand insulin.
Insulin is a hormone made by the pancreas, which allows glucose from the food we eat to be accessed by the body and turned into energy. The International Diabetes Federation defines insulin as a key that unlocks glucose from our food, and helps glucose get into cells.
In normal metabolism, when blood glucose or blood sugar levels rise after you eat, your pancreas releases insulin into the blood to keep blood glucose in the normal range.
In type 1 diabetes, the body does not produce enough insulin to keep blood glucose levels normal.
In type 2 diabetes, your muscles, fat, and liver stop responding well to insulin and can’t easily take up glucose from your blood. This is defined as insulin resistance or low insulin sensitivity.
The converse, high insulin sensitivity, means the body is very efficient at using glucose.
To compensate for low sensitivity or insulin resistance, your pancreas increases output of insulin to help glucose enter your cells. Your blood glucose levels will stay in the healthy range as long as your pancreas can make enough insulin to overcome your insulin resistance.
However, as your pancrease increases production, your blood levels of insulin rise. High insulin levels in your blood is called “hyperinsulinemia”.
Over time, with increased exposure to insulin, your cells may become even more resistant to insulin. You will have both high insulin levels and high blood sugar levels, or hyperglycemia.
The Role of Magnesium in Insulin & Blood Glucose
Dr. Carolyn Dean, in her book, The Magnesium Miracle, explains that magnesium activates enzymes that control digestion, absorption, and utilization of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. Without magnesium, we can effectively make use of nutrition, including simple sugars. (p. 118)
Magnesium is also responsible for the production, function and transport of insulin by the cells. The relationship is symbiotic in that insulin is required to move mineral across cell walls, into and out of the cells.
In fact, in cases of insulin resistance, little to no magnesium is found in the centre of the blood cells. This is referred to as low intracellular magnesium.
When found inside the cell, magnesium contributes to improving “insulin-mediated glucose uptake” which simply means that magnesium helps insulin do its’ job. Conversely, the absence of intracellular magnesium impairs insulin action and exacerbates insulin resistance.
Magnesium thus helps to prevent insulin resistance by ensuring that insulin and glucose can bypass the cell membrane, thereby helping to keep blood sugar levels balanced.
“The higher the levels of magnesium in the body, the greater the sensitivity of the cells to insulin”. (Dean, p. 122)
Magnesium Deficiency & Diabetes
Magnesium deficiencies have been observed both inside the cell and outside the cell in pre-diabetes, type 2 diabetes, and type 1 diabetes.
Studies show that “those who tend to consume less magnesium typically have poorer blood sugar regulation and a higher risk of type 2 diabetes than people who consume higher amounts. For example, one review of 26 studies including 1,168 people found that those with the highest regular intake of magnesium had a 22% lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes than those who regularly consumed the least magnesium.” (Healthline)
No wonder low magnesium levels are associated with diabetes:
“Studies confirm that when insulin is released from the pancrease, magnesium in the cell normally responds and opens the cell to allow entry of glucose, but in the case of magnesium deficiency combined with insulin resistance the normal mechanisms just don’t work.” (Dean, p. 121)
Magnesium inside of our cells helps insulin usher glucose into the cells where it can be used 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.
Those with insulin resistance also lose more magnesium through urine, exacerbating the issue of magnesium deficiency. Extended periods of high blood glucose drains our magnesium stores.
Foods that are highly processed and sugary are not only low in magnesium. Our bodies have to use up magnesium stores in the blood to metabolize these foods, creating another vicious cycle. Thus, a low magnesium diet is in many ways a risk factor for diabetes.
Key points on insulin, diabetes & magnesium:
- Insulin resistance is known to be directly related to magnesium deficiency
- Those with the highest magnesium intake have a 22% lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes
- High blood glucose increases magnesium loss
- Low magnesium foods often drain magnesium stores
How Magnesium Supplementation Helps Diabetes
Individuals with poorly-controlled diabetes may benefit from magnesium supplements because of increased magnesium loss in urine associated with hyperglycemia (high blood sugar).
Studies show that orgal magnesium supplements improve glucose levels and insulin sensitivity in patients with type 2 diabetes who are low in magnesium.
Supplements also improve insulin sensitivity in non-diabetic subjects with insulin resistance, and reduce C-reactive protein levels (a risk factor for diabetes) for in patients with prediabetes. (World Journal of Diabetes)
In short, magnesium supplementation:
- Corrects the deficit in intracellular magnesium levels
- Improves insulin sensitivity
- Plays a role in the release and activity of insulin transport in the blood
- Is essential in carbohydrate metabolism
- May protect against diabetes and its complications
- Reduces oxidative stress and inflammation
Magnesium & Metabolic Syndrome
Typically, diabetes or pre-diabetes exists together with other health risk factors.
There is a cluster of risk factors that together are known as Metabolic Syndrome. When present together, these risk factors increase the likelihood of Coronary Artery Disease, Stroke and Type 2 diabetes. Each of these risk factors is related to magnesium deficiency.
Diabetes-related diseases are more likely when there are low levels of intracellular magnesium.
Metabolic Syndrome risk factors include:
- ‘Central obesity’ or ‘apple-shaped’ weight distribution, with extra weight around the middle and upper parts of the body
- Insulin resistance
- High cholesterol
- High blood pressure, or hypertension
- Aging, lack of exercise, genetic history of any of the factors, and hormone changes
Magnesium is closely bound up with metabolic processes throughout the body – it plays a role in 700 – 800 enzymatic processes at the cellular level. It is not surprising that magnesium, when sufficient, will minimize Metabolic Syndrome risk factors and help to prevent the onset of conditions such as heart disease and diabetes.
Magnesium helps reduce the risk of Metabolic Syndrome by:
- Supporting the production, function and transport of insulin
- Ushering insulin into the cells to balance glucose levels
- Promoting efficient metabolism of nutrients
- Naturally thinning the blood
- Reducing high cholesterol
It’s reassuring to know that one mineral can help not only with diabetes but with related conditions.
Supplementing with Magnesium for Diabetes
Clearly, those with diabetes or pre-diabetes (those at risk for diabetes) may benefit from magnesium supplementation.
Magnesium rich foods such as legumes, dark leafy greens, nuts and seeds are excellent choices. These are not only high in magnesium but in other protective nutrients and fibers, for weight management, stable blood sugar and disease prevention.
It is often difficult to get enough magnesium through diet. This may be particularly true for those who excrete more magnesium because of insulin resistance.
If you are at risk for diabetes or have diabetes, talk to your healthcare provider about starting a magnesium supplement. Many customers with diabetes who have reported that Natural Calm magnesium citrate has helped to balance their blood sugar levels dramatically.
“A 12-week study in 54 people with type 2 diabetes found that taking 300 mg of magnesium daily significantly lowered fasting blood sugar levels, as well as post-meal blood sugar levels, compared with taking a placebo pill.
Similarly, in one review of 18 studies, 12 of them including people either with diabetes or at risk of developing diabetes found that taking 250–450 mg of magnesium daily for 6–24 weeks helped significantly reduce fasting blood sugar levels, compared with placebo groups.” (Healthline)
Again, please consult your doctor if you have diabetes or are under medical care for a pre-existing condition. A magnesium supplement may change how your medication works or the amount that you need to take for your condition.
How to Take Magnesium for Diabetes
The most effective way to supplement magnesium is in smaller doses, split throughout the day. This is especially true for those who have pre-diabetes or diabetes and excrete magnesium at a faster rate. You want to keep a steady “drip feed” of magnesium to supply your cells.
It is easy to take Natual Calm magnesium this way simply by dissolving a tsp of the powder in a quarter cup of hot water and then pouring it into an 8 oz bottle of water and sipping your magnesium throughout the day.