Study associates higher magnesium intake with better diabetes related outcomes

Study associates higher magnesium intake with better diabetes-related outcomes

Life Extension Update

Tuesday, April 14, 2015. A study reported on October 15, 2014 in the Journal of Human Nutrition & Food Science concludes an association between higher magnesium intake and improved diabetes outcomes and metabolic syndrome risk.

Yanni Papanikolaou and colleagues analyzed data from 14,338 men and women aged 20 and older who participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) from 2001-2010. Estimated average requirement (EAR, the average daily nutrient intake level estimated to meet the requirement of half the healthy individuals in a life stage and gender group) values were used to categorize the subjects' magnesium intake as adequate or inadequate. Participants were assessed for the presence of diabetes or other associated factors, including diagnosed diabetes or diabetes medications having been prescribed, elevated glucose, glycohemoglobin or insulin levels; insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, obesity, being overweight, increased waist circumference, hypertension, abnormal lipid levels, elevated triglycerides, or high levels of C-reactive protein, a marker of inflammation.

As magnesium intake increased, insulin, body mass index, waist circumference and systolic blood pressure fell. Among those having adequate magnesium intake from food combined with supplements, the risk of elevated glycohemoglobin, metabolic syndrome, overweight or obesity, increased waist circumference, elevated systolic blood pressure, reduced high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, and elevated C-reactive protein were lower in comparison with the inadequate group.

"Our current observational findings demonstrate several beneficial relationships between dietary magnesium intake and diabetes-related outcome measurements in U.S. adults 20 years of age and older," the authors conclude. "Importantly, dietary intake of magnesium from foods or from food plus supplements was associated with a decreased risk for metabolic syndrome, obesity or overweight, elevated blood pressure, and reduced HDL-cholesterol, with lower odds ratios identified with dietary intake of magnesium from foods and dietary supplements for elevated glycohemoglobin, elevated waist circumference and elevated C-reactive protein. As magnesium has been identified as a shortfall nutrient by the 2010 DGAC report, and Americans continue to struggle with meeting nutrient and food group recommendations, dietary magnesium supplementation coupled with appropriate food choices offer an evidence-based option to meet authoritative recommendations and potentially reduce the risk of diabetes and diabetes-related outcomes."

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Higher magnesium levels linked to lower risk of stroke
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Findings derived from the Nurses' Health Study suggest a protective effect for magnesium against the risk of ischemic stroke in women.

The study, described online on August 12, 2014 in the American Heart Association journal Stroke, included 459 Nurses' Health Study participants who experienced an ischemic stroke prior to June 2006 and an equal number of control subjects matched for age, ethnicity and other factors. Blood samples collected between 1989 and 1990 were analyzed for plasma magnesium.

Subjects whose magnesium levels were among the lowest fifth of participants had a risk of stroke that was 34% higher than those whose levels were among the top fifth. Those whose levels were lower than 0.82 micromoles per liter had a 57% greater risk of total ischemic stroke, and a 66% higher risk of thrombotic stroke than women who had higher levels.

To authors Sally N. Akarolo-Anthony and her associates' knowledge, the association between magnesium levels and ischemic stroke risk has been evaluated in only one other prospective study. They remark that although only 1% of the body's magnesium exists in plasma, levels are strongly correlated with intracellular magnesium and could be a better indicator of the mineral's status than dietary intake. They note that risk factors for stroke, including diabetes and hypertension, have been associated with reduced magnesium levels, and that there is evidence that magnesium could help protect against blood clot formation.

"The results of this study suggest that low plasma magnesium may be associated with increased risk of ischemic stroke," the authors conclude. "If confirmed, our findings may have significant public health impact because magnesium deficiency is potentially modifiable."

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Health Concern


Type 2 diabetes, formerly known as non-insulin-dependent diabetes, occurs when the body is no longer able to use insulin effectively and gradually becomes resistant to its effects. It is a slowly progressing disease that goes through identifiable stages. In the early stages, both insulin and glucose levels are elevated (conditions called hyperinsulinemia and hyperglycemia, respectively). In the later stages, insulin levels are reduced, and blood glucose levels are very elevated. Although few people are aware of this crucial distinction, therapy for type 2 diabetes should be tailored to the stage of the disease.

Risk factors for type 2 diabetes include aging, obesity, family history, physical inactivity, ethnicity, and impaired glucose metabolism. Type 2 diabetes is also a prominent risk of metabolic syndrome, a constellation of conditions that includes insulin resistance along with hypertension, lipid disorders, and overweight.

Diabetics are often deficient in magnesium, which is depleted by medications and the disease process (Eibl 1995; Elamin 1990; Tosiello 1996). One double-blind study suggested that magnesium supplementation enhanced blood sugar control (Rodriguez-Moran 2003).

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