Can magnesium prevent diabetes?

The results of a new study should prod clinicians to check magnesium levels in prediabetic patients and consider magnesium supplementation

Obesity and type 2 diabetes are fast becoming epidemics on a global scale.

One means to stem the tide of this health tsunami is to treat patients with prediabetes before they become diabetics. A study published in the journal Diabetes and Metabolism explored the impact that magnesium may have on reduction of plasma glucose levels in adults with prediabetes and magnesium deficiency.

The result? Just over 50% of the participants treated with magnesium showed improvement in blood sugar levels compared with only 7% of participants treated with a placebo.

Working off previous studies that have shown that serum magnesium levels in prediabetic individuals are significantly lower than in non-diabetics, researchers in Mexico recruited a total of 116 men and non-pregnant women (age 30-65) who were newly diagnosed with prediabetes and had clinically documented low magnesium. The participants were randomised to receive either 30mL of magnesium chloride (MgCl2) 5% oral solution (equivalent to 382mg of magnesium) or a placebo oral solution once daily for 4 months.

At baseline, there were no significant statistical differences between individuals in the two groups. After 4 months of supplementation, however, those who received MgCl2 significantly reduced their fasting and post-load plasma glucose levels compared with the controls.

Specifically, fasting glucose levels (86.9±7.9mg/dL and 98.3±4.6mg/dL, respectively, p=0.004) and post-load glucose levels (124.7±33.4mg/dL and 136. 23.9mg/dL, respectively, p=0.03) levels declined as serum magnesium (1.96±0.27mg/dL and 1.60±0.26mg/dL, respectively, p=0.005) levels significantly increased.

In all, 34 (29.4%) participants improved their glucose status: 50.8% in the intervention group and 7.0% in the placebo group (p<0.0005). It’s estimated that 79 million Americans are prediabetic; given the poor nutritional quality of the typical American diet, it’s likely that most Americans are also deficient in magnesium. The results of this study should prod clinicians to check magnesium levels in prediabetic patients and consider magnesium supplementation. Every prediabetic person kept from developing full-blown diabetes is a tick in the 'win column.'

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