Like potassium, magnesium is a key nutrient that Americans simply don’t get enough of. Studies consistently show a strong association between high magnesium levels and a decreased Type 2 diabetes risk, especially in obese women. Extra pounds are by far the biggest risk factor for Type 2 diabetes although genetics, diet, and lack of exercise also play a role. In Type 2 diabetes, the body’s cells fail to use insulin properly. As the need for insulin rises, the pancreas works overtime trying to produce enough. When the pancreas loses the ability to create enough insulin, blood sugar levels climb.
* Over 23 million Americans have Type 2 diabetes
* Approximately 5.7 million Americans with Type 2 diabetes are unaware of their condition
* Adults with diabetes are two to four times more likely than others to have a stroke or to die of heart disease
Researchers tracked more than 85,000 women and 42,000 men in the Nurses Health Study and the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study and found that those who consumed the most magnesium (375-450 mg/day) had a 27% lower risk of diabetes than those who consumed the least amount of magnesium (200-270 mg/day). Clinical trials are still necessary to determine whether magnesium itself is the main link or if magnesium-rich foods in general offer some other unknown benefit that helps protect against diabetes.
The bottom line: Many fruits and vegetables are chock-full of magnesium. Although the jury is still out as to whether high magnesium levels lower diabetes risk, it can’t hurt to increase magnesium consumption. Enjoy magnesium in beans, nuts, seeds, and even semisweet chocolate.