As the statistics reach alarming rates, researchers try to delve deeper into the key indicators and common factors amongst those showing the precursors to or that already have diabetes. Each year, new research emerges with studies attempting to capture new facets of the cause, effect, and prevention of this disease.
Along with diabetes, there has been an increased interest in disorders that are known to be associated such as hypertension, cardiovascular disease and atherosclerosis. With all of these comes a common trend of magnesium deficiency.
Magnesium’s Role in Metabolism
You could say that this one seemingly insignificant mineral has a hand in just about every vital function in our body. Magnesium plays a critical role in both enzymatic reactions and carbohydrate metabolism, especially glycolysis.
It is a necessary component for nearly all enzymes involved in the glycolytic and Krebs cycles, which turn sugar and fat into ATP. ATP transports energy within cells for metabolism, and is stored in the body as a combination of magnesium and ATP (MgATP). So essentially, without this mineral the body’s cellular metabolism is virtually dead in the water.
Magnesium & Insulin
In a magnesium deficient state, the pancreas’ ability to secrete insulin is impaired and cellular insulin receptor sites become resistant. In the average healthy person, insulin supports the uptake of magnesium into the cells. In turn, magnesium is needed for the cells to create more insulin receptors to maintain their sensitivity.
Due to the complementary relationship between insulin and magnesium, and the number of metabolic processes that are involved, it has been suggested that supplementing with magnesium could help reverse the symptoms of metabolic syndrome and insulin resistance, both precursors to diabetes.
Cause & Effect
Although there are many reasons why our population is finding themselves facing diabetes, diet is the primary contributor to our current downfall. With the modern diet consisting of high amounts of refined and processed carbohydrates, neither magnesium nor insulin has a chance. Normally, when carbohydrates are consumed and turned to glucose, insulin would be secreted to rapidly remove it from the bloodstream and into the cells for energy. However, with increased cell resistance, insulin has nowhere to go and the glucose is instead stored as fat. On top of that, the high levels of insulin in the bloodstream cause magnesium to be excreted in excess through urination.
Type 2 diabetics that are not currently supplementing with magnesium, are almost always going to test deficient. If the insulin resistance itself weren’t enough, compounding the problem are the various lipid-lowering drug treatments that also cause depletion of magnesium within the body.
In a 1993 article in Diabetologia, they stated that the cardiovascular consequences of diabetes may be at least partly due to magnesium deficiency. This certainly isn’t the first study to suggest that a deficiency may be a large part of the problem. Results from a study in Taiwan showed a correlation between levels of magnesium in the drinking water and the risk of dying from diabetes.
Other studies have shown that disorders associated with type 1 and 2 diabetes such as atherosclerosis and retinopathy could benefit from magnesium supplementation.
*However, this excludes patients with significant renal impairment.