Want to suppress your cravings for sweets and in turn help lower your risk of type 2 diabetes? According to Western Research Laboratories, magnesium can help you do just that…plus more. In fact, one theory suggests that women often crave chocolate and other sweets during menstruation because their magnesium levels are significantly lowered.
But reducing your desire for sweets is apparently just one of the ways that magnesium can help address type 2 diabetes.
Previously, we told you how a good intake of magnesium is essential to heart health.
Intake & absorption
A team led by researchers from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine (JHU) designed a study to further explore previous findings that low serum magnesium levels are associated with a risk of type 2 diabetes.
As reported in the archives of Internal Medicine, researchers assessed six years of data on more than 12,000 subjects who participated in the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study. Serum magnesium levels were recorded from blood tests, and at the outset none of the subjects had type 2 diabetes.
The ratio of white subjects to black subjects was about 3:1. Over six years, 8 percent of the white subjects and 14 percent of the black subjects developed diabetes. Among black participants, there was no significant association between low magnesium levels and diabetes risk. But among the white subjects there was a clear association. In fact, white subjects with the highest levels of magnesium had half the risk of type 2 diabetes compared to those with the lowest magnesium levels.
Although the discrepancy between whites and blacks was unexpected, researchers speculated that magnesium’s protective mechanism was ‘overwhelmed’ by the higher rates of type 2 diabetes among black subjects (a well-known phenomenon in the medical community). Blacks are also known to have more complications associated with diabetes than whites.
The JHU team also examined dietary information that showed no significant correlation between low dietary intake of magnesium and diabetes risk. And while that might seem at first like a paradox, remember that body stores of magnesium can be depleted in a number of ways.
As I mentioned just recently, a high intake of starches, alcohol, diuretics and some prescription drugs (such as antibiotics) can increase urinary excretion of magnesium. And in addition to menstruation (as I mentioned above), stress can also contribute to magnesium depletion.
So while the foods you eat may be magnesium-rich, these depleting factors can easily starve your body of this essential mineral.
The calcium connection
World renowned alternative health expert, Dr Allan Spreen, have some good pointers for supplementing with magnesium. According to him calcium should always be taken with a magnesium supplement because calcium alone can create problems. Hilary writes to ask for Dr. Spreen’s recommendation on how much of each supplement to take. She says:
‘Most resources, alternative, including ayurvedic, as well as conventional, recommend a ratio of 2:1 for calcium to magnesium, typically 1500 and 750 mg. However, a couple of sources that I find convincing, one being Dr. Douglass, the other Dr. Nan Fuchs, both recommend equal amounts at 500 mg. daily. I do not know Dr. Douglass’ reason, but Dr. Fuchs’ reason is that bone breakage is more due to brittle bones than less dense bones, and hence more magnesium is required to promote bone flexibility.’
Regarding calcium-to-magnesium ratio, Dr. Spreen told me that he’s vacillated back and forth between the two ratios during his practice. But no more. He said, ‘I have returned to my original preference for the 2:1 ratio, as the 1:1 ratio is too risky for getting enough oral magnesium to cause a faster transit time through the intestines. That causes decreased absorption of needed nutrients.’
Dr. Spreen typically recommends 500 mg of magnesium per day, with the added note that one should avoid magnesium oxide, which he describes as a ‘poor form’ that doesn’t contain enough elemental magnesium. Dr. Spreen says, ‘Magnesium gluconate or chelated magnesium would be my choices for the general buyer.’
So to quickly recap magnesium’s potential benefits, both large and small:
- Helps prevent type 2 diabetes
- Helps prevent coronary heart disease
- Promotes bone flexibility
- Reduces the cravings for sweets that can contribute to the development of type 2 diabetes
If you’re concerned that you might have a magnesium deficiency, ask your doctor to test your blood for magnesium levels. A normal range is anywhere between .66 and 1.23 mmol/L (millimoles per litre). Then you can be reassured that your magnesium intake is being absorbed to deliver all the benefits from this essential nutrient.
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