How Magnesium Influences Diabetes


Magnesium in healthy foods

Getting enough magnesium in your diet could help prevent diabetes, a new study suggests.

People who consume high amounts of magnesium in foods and from vitamin supplements are about half as likely to develop diabetes as compared to those who do not take enough magnesium concludes a new study by Dr. Ka He of the University of North Carolina, USA.[1]

Dr Ka He et al studied magnesium intake and diabetes risk in 4,497 men and women 18 to 30 years old, none of whom were diabetic to start with. During a 20-year follow-up period, 330 of the subjects developed diabetes and it was found that people with the high magnesium intake (200 mg of magnesium for every 1,000 calories consumed) were 47 percent less likely to develop diabetes than those with the low intakes.

This inference can have a great significance for Europe. A 2002 study called ‘Diabetes trends in Europe’ predicted an epidemic expansion of diabetes incidence in Europe. Carried out by Saint-Louis Hospital, Paris, France, the study evaluated trends in type 1 and type 2 diabetes in seven European countries (Finland, Denmark, the UK, Germany, France, Spain, and Italy). It found increasing incidence of type 1 and type 2 diabetes in most European countries. The report also mentioned that costs of in-hospital diabetic care have increased even more rapidly than has the number of affected patients [2].

How does Magnesium prevent diabetes?

Magnesium is essential to many processes in our body. Magnesium plays a major role in carbohydrate metabolism, which establishes a link between magnesium and diabetes. Magnesium can influence the release of insulin, which in turn is responsible for controlling blood sugar (glucose) levels [3]. People with diabetes tend to have lower magnesium levels, and it can either aggravate insulin resistance or be a consequence of insulin resistance. When the blood glucose levels go high, the kidneys lose their ability to retain magnesium, leading to excess excretion of magnesium in the urine. The loss of magnesium in this way leads to low levels in the blood, called hypomagnesemia. Also, insulin resistance decreases the cellular uptake of magnesium and therefore the intercellular levels become too low.

Two studies – the Nurses’ Health Study (NHS) and the Health Professionals’ Follow-up Study (HFS) [4,5] – monitored over 170,000 health professionals through questionnaires. In addition to evaluating diet, dietary supplement and multivitamin information was also collected. To examine the link between magnesium and diabetes, over 127,000 participants (with a female-to-male ratio of roughly 2-1) with no history of diabetes, heart disease or cancer were monitored. It was observed that the risk of developing type 2 diabetes for men and women was greater where there was a lower intake of magnesium [6].

Another study called the Women’s Health Study also examined the link between magnesium and diabetes and noted that the risk of developing type 2 diabetes were significantly higher when the magnesium intakes were lower [7].

Aside from these observational studies, there have also been clinical studies to examine supplemental magnesium and diabetes, specifically the control of the disease. One of these studies had 63 subjects who had below normal serum magnesium levels (amount of magnesium in blood). They were given either a 2.5-gram dose of oral magnesium chloride (equivalent to 300 mg magnesium), or a placebo, on a daily basis. After the 16 weeks, those who received the supplemental magnesium showed improvements in their serum magnesium levels and exhibited significantly improved control of their diabetes. [8]

Diabetic Factors that can be benefited by Supplemental Intake of Magnesium:

  1. Hypertension and Cardiovascular diseases: Magnesium protects your heart by relaxing the blood vessels and keeping insulin levels low. It also plays an important role in preventing blood clots, by stopping blood platelets from sticking together.
  2. Retinopathy: Magnesium supplementation prevents the progression of the deterioration of the eyes in diabetic retinopathy.
  3. Pregnancy: Type 1 diabetic women lacking in magnesium may suffer higher rates of spontaneous abortion and birth defects.
  4. Diabetic neuropathy: Magnesium is involved in the way messages transfer from nerves to muscles and also impact the sensitivity of nerves and muscles. Thus a lack of magnesium can be implicated in neuropathy.
  5. Magnesium deficiency is also linked to foot ulcers, which are the result of neuropathy and peripheral vascular disease.

How to Increase your Magnesium levels

You could start by getting more magnesium through diet. Eat plenty of leafy greens and unrefined foods. However, if you are a diabetic on a restricted diet, you may find it hard to get the required amount of magnesium from your food. Oral magnesium supplements like Mag365 are the obvious choice for diabetics. Mag365 is a superior supplement with a very high amount of bioavailable magnesium. You can also try transdermal magnesium supplements like Magnesium Rub or Magnesium Gel as a medium for massage. Magnesium Rub is a sea water concentrate, with the sodium removed, and when applied directly to skin, it is absorbed quickly and has a calming effect on the nerves.


  1. Magnesium Intake in Relation to Systemic Inflammation, Insulin Resistance, and the Incidence of Diabetes. Ka He, MD, ScD ( et al.
  2. Diabetes trends in Europe.
  3. “Magnesium Deficiency”. Kobrin SM and Goldfarb S. 1990.. Semin Nephrol 1990;10:525-35. [PubMed abstract]
    Institute of Medicine, Food and Nutrition Board. 1999. “Dietary Reference Intakes: Calcium, Phosphorus, Magnesium, Vitamin D and Fluoride”. National Academy Press. Washington, DC..
  4. Paolisso G, Sgambato S, Gambardella A, Pizza G, Tesauro P, Varricchio H, D'Onofrio F. 1992. “Daily magnesium supplements improve glucose handling in elderly subjects”. Am J Clin Nutr 1992;55:1161-7. [PubMed abstract]
  5. Lopez-Ridaura R, Willett WC, Rimm EB, Liu S, Stampfer MJ, Manson JE, Hu FB. 2004. “Magnesium intake and risk of type 2 diabetes in men and women”. Diabetes Care 2004;27:134-5. Song V, Manson JE, Buring JE, Liu S. 2003. “Dietary magnesium intake in relation to plasma insulin levels and risk of type 2 diabetes in women”. Diabetes Care 2003;27:59-65.
  6. De Lourdes Lima, M, Cruz T, Pousada JC, Rodrigues LE, Barbosa K, Canguco V. 1998. “The effect of magnesium supplementation in increasing doses on the control of type 2 diabetes”. Diabetes Care 1998;21:682-86.
  7. Kao WHL, Folsom AR, Nieto FJ, MO JP, Watson RL, Brancati FL. 1999. “Serum and dietary magnesium and the risk for type 2 diabetes: The Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study”. Arch Intern Med 1999;159:2151-59.
  8. American Diabetes Association. 1999. “Nutrition recommendations and principles for people with diabetes mellitus”. Diabetes Care 1999;22:542-5. [PubMed abstract]