Recently an article was posted on WorldHealth.net on preventing Type II Diabetes with increased magnesium intake. You can read the short article here. Four medical journal articles on the subject have been published in Diabetes Care (a medical journal funded by the American Diabetes Association) on the subject, including a Meta-Analysis (a study made up of other studies so that the significants of the statistics in the studies are stronger) and another prospective study (a study specifically designed to only study dietary magnesium and its effect on diabetes) where thousands of patients were studied over a period of over twenty years. All the studies show that patients who take in more magnesium are less likely to get diabetes regardless of age (although women seem to have a little more success than men and the overweight had more luck than the ideally weighed patients). None of the articles are quite sure what the reason for this is. There are, however, some theories. For one thing, magnesium helps the body communicate along the insulin pathway. It basically acts like the telephone cord between cells and the pancreas (the organ that produces insulin). If you have low magnesium your body may have increased insulin resistance because the cells aren’t communicating to tell the pancreas it needs more insulin . Magnesium may also prevent the absorption of fat into the body, which could prevent some of the metabolic syndrome (weight gain around the waist ), which can lead to type II diabetes. There is also a dietary component to consider. The studies didn’t have patients specifically taking a magnesium supplement. Most magnesium was taken as part of the patients’ diets.
So where does magnesium come from? Dark leafy greens are a great source. Kale, spinach, and chard made up in a salad or steamed is a great way of adding magnesium to your diet without having to add a lot of calories. Nuts and seeds are also a great way of getting your magnesium. One cup of pumpkin seeds actually provides a whole day’s supply of magnesium, but nuts also very calorie dense (600 calories in one cup of roasted pumpkin seeds). Fish contain quite a bit of magnesium so get those omega-3s in and you’ll have a double whammy of magnesium too! Avocado is high in good fats also, and contains a good amount of magnesium. If you like a little mayo on your sandwich, try avocado as a creamy alternative and get some minerals in there. If you’ve got a sweet tooth bananas and chocolate also contain a healthy dose of magnesium! If you look at the foods I listed above these foods are jam-packed full of healthy fats and fibers that also help keep your blood sugar steady and also stave off hunger. The studies were stratified and specifically showed that magnesium containing foods seem to help more than other mineral containing foods like calcium, but all the foods are part of a healthy diet.
So what can you take away from these studies?
1. Definitely get magnesium containing foods in your diet.
2. You can absolutely consider a piece of dark chocolate a daily magnesium vitamin
3. The same thing is true that we have been saying for years: a healthy diet will always help with diabetes prevention.
So why not get started! Slowmag.com actually has a database full of magnesium containing recipes (including dessert!). Check out this delicious magnesium rich salad for your next lunch: Spinach and Avocado Salad
Or this dessert for the holidays without the adding a lot of sugar: Chocolate Banana Pudding
Just a warning, however, there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. The human body requires approximately 400mg of magnesium daily. Taking too much (especially as a supplement) can cause problems like diarrhea and, and if you REALLY over do it, heart arrhythmia.