Magnesium Deficiency Linked to Diabetes

By Hans R. Larsen MSc ChE –

BALTIMORE, MARYLAND. A link between low body levels of magnesium and type 2 diabetes has long been suspected, but there has been no agreement as to whether low magnesium levels cause diabetes or the presence of diabetes results in low magnesium levels. A team of researchers from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and three other medical schools have just released a major report which clearly supports the idea that low magnesium levels are an important risk factor for diabetes. Their study involved 12,128 middle-aged white and black Americans who were non-diabetic at the start of the study. Six years later 367 of the black participants (14 per cent) and 739 (8 per cent) of the white participants had developed diabetes. A comparison of baseline blood serum levels and the incidence of diabetes showed that among white participants those with high magnesium levels (greater than 0.95 mmol/L) had a 50 per cent lower incidence of diabetes than participants with low levels (0.25-0.70 mmol/L). Total incidence was 11.1 cases per 1000 person-years at the high level and 22.8 cases at the low level. No significant correlation between serum magnesium levels and diabetes was found among the black participants. Surprisingly, the researchers also did not find any association between dietary intake of magnesium and the incidence of diabetes. Other studies have, however, found such a correlation. The researchers suggest that increased magnesium consumption along with modification of other risk factors for type 2 diabetes (obesity and lack of exercise) might represent a novel means to prevent type 2 diabetes.

Kao, W.H. Linda, et al. Serum and dietary magnesium and the risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus. Archives of Internal Medicine, Vol. 159, October 11, 1999, pp. 2151-59 Orchard, Trevor J. Magnesium and type 2 diabetes mellitus. Archives of Internal Medicine, Vol. 159, October 11, 1999, pp. 2119-20 (editorial)

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