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Magnesium: An Unsung Hero In Diabetes Risk Prevention

posted on 6/16/2016 Facebook Facebook

As statistics churn out alarming figures of the incidence of diabetes worldwide, science attempts to delve deeper into understanding the various aspects of the disease. Owing to its multifactorial nature, scientists have long struggled in their attempt to capture the different causes, risks, and effects of diabetes. A languid lifestyle, unhealthy eating, and lack of physical activity are all known to amplify the risk of diabetes. However, seldom do we understand the importance of genetics and even our unique metabolic aspects when it comes to diabetes risk.

Scientists have identified more than 70 genes which directly impact the risk of diabetes. Similarly, deficiencies of certain nutrients have been studied to impact the control of blood glucose levels significantly. One such deficiency is that of the magnesium. The fourth most abundant mineral in the human body—magnesium is found in more than 300 different enzymes in our bodies and has about 3,751 binding sites on proteins. From regulating the detoxification process in the body, producing antioxidants and controlling the levels of blood glucose levels, magnesium has a very important role in the body.

Where Diabetes Meets Magnesium Deficiency
Magnesium plays a very crucial role in both enzymatic reactions and carbohydrate metabolism. Several studies have pointed out magnesium’s involvement in keeping the metabolism running efficiently, particularly in terms of glucose regulation, insulin sensitivity and reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes.

Lower levels of magnesium impair the pancreas’s ability to secrete insulin thereby making the cellular insulin receptors resistant. In an average healthy person, insulin aids the uptake of magnesium in the cells. In turn, the cells require this magnesium to create more insulin receptors on their surface to maintain sensitivity. This complementary relationship between magnesium and insulin holds up to the growing evidence on the importance of this mineral in reversing the symptoms of metabolic syndrome and insulin resistance—both of which are precursors to type 2 diabetes.

Similarly, a magnesium deficiency, with symptoms ranging from fatigue and muscle weakness to severe seizures and heart rhythm disturbances, may be indicative symptoms of diabetes and high blood pressure. A recent review published in the North American Journal of Medical Science pointed out that common variant of two genes (ion channel transient receptor potential membrane melastatin 6 and 7, TRPM6 and TRPM7) critical for magnesium homeostasis may confer a susceptibility to type 2 diabetes in individuals with inadequate magnesium intake.

A Cause & Effect Relationship
While there are many reasons why our population is finding themselves surrounded by diabetes and its complications, diet is the primary contributor to the current breakdown. With our modern diets rich in processed carbohydrates and unhealthy fats, nutrients are finding slim chances to make a contribution to the overall nutritional quotient. When we eat food, especially carbohydrates which is converted to glucose, insulin is rapidly secreted to pump this glucose into the cells for energy. However, in magnesium deficient state with increased cell resistance, insulin has nowhere to go and thus glucose gets stored as fat instead. A higher level of insulin in the blood also causes magnesium to be excreted through urine.

For people already suffering from diabetes, magnesium deficiency can cause added problems making adjuvant insulin therapy ineffective. Therefore, it is highly important to supplement your diet with an adequate amount of magnesium in order to both prevent and manage diabetes.

A 2013 study published in the Journal Nutrients found that most people who had blood glucose levels in the pre-diabetes range had inadequate intake of magnesium. When supplemented with appropriate magnesium levels, the participants were able to reduce their risk of diabetes and other metabolic problems by about 70%.

Improve Your Magnesium Levels Naturally
The daily recommended intake of magnesium for men is in the range of 400 to 420 mg, while the levels fall by a 100mg for women. However, recent data suggests that only about 25% of the general population is getting this recommended daily allowance.

  • Start by supplementing your diet with magnesium-rich foods, such as seaweed, green leafy veggies, avocados, beans, pumpkin seeds, flaxseeds, sesame seeds etc.

  • Speak to your doctor about a magnesium supplement. Magnesium threonate is likely one of the best sources, as it seems to penetrate cell membranes, including your mitochondria, which results in higher energy levels.

  • Epsom salt baths or foot baths are also known to improve magnesium levels in the body. Epsom salt is a magnesium sulfate that can absorb into your body through your skin.

  • Certain foods can actually influence your body''s absorption of magnesium. Vitamin D3, K2 and calcium are all important to ensure efficient absorption of magnesium. For example, excessive consumption of alcohol interferes with your body’s absorption of vitamin D and in turn magnesium.


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  3. Hruby A, McKeown NM, Song Y, Djoussé L. Dietary magnesium and genetic interactions in diabetes and related risk factors: a brief overview of current knowledge. Nutrients. 2013 Dec 6;5(12):4990-5011. doi: 10.3390/nu5124990. Review.PubMed PMID: 24322525; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3875916.

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  6. Marchel Stuiver, Sergio Lainez, Constanze Will, Sara Terryn, Dorothee Günzel, Huguette Debaix, Kerstin Sommer, Kathrin Kopplin, Julia Thumfart, Nicole B. Kampik. CNNM2, Encoding a Basolateral Protein Required for Renal Mg2 Handling, Is Mutated in Dominant Hypomagnesemia. The American Journal of Human Genetics, 2011; 88 (3): 333

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