It’s estimated that more than half of Americans are deficient in the body’s fourth most abundant mineral, magnesium.
Among its many duties, magnesium is involved in the regulation of blood sugar levels, and people with elevated insulin are likely not getting enough of this nutrient.
Why the Deficit
Having insufficient magnesium is owed to several factors:
Nutrient-poor food crops because of the increasing depletion of nutrients from our soil.
Eating too many processed foods.
Consuming too few fresh fruits and vegetables.
Magnesium loss through alcohol consumption, stress, poor sleep, and by taking certain prescription medications, including statins, diuretics, and fluoride containing drugs.
Various hormones, such as estrogen, may effect magnesium levels as well.
Some early signs of magnesium deficiency are a lack of appetite, headaches, fatigue, weakness, muscle spasms (Charlie horses), nausea, and vomiting.
Magnesium and Diabetes
Having adequate magnesium may lessen type 2 diabetes symptoms, and it helps prevent insulin resistance, and the onset of diabetes—especially for those at high risk. Research revealed that:
High magnesium intake can lower the risk of blood glucose and metabolic problems up to 71 percent in those with pre-diabetes.
Boosting magnesium levels inhibits the progression from pre-diabetes to diabetes.
Magnesium activates the enzyme tyrosine, necessary for the proper functioning or our cell’s insulin receptors.
Sufficient magnesium levels are also essential for maintaining normal blood pressure and heart health. This is an important consideration for those with diabetes since they are at increased risk for cardiovascular problems.
Getting More Magnesium
Magnesium expert Dr. Carolyn Dean who wrote the book The Magnesium Miracle, believes that nearly everyone would be better off taking a magnesium supplement, because our soil is so depleted of nutrients.
However, by eating a varied diet that includes regular helpings of dark-green leafy vegetables, you can theoretically get a healthy supply of magnesium from your food. Organic foods grown in nutrient-rich soil might be higher in magnesium than traditionally grown crops, but that is difficult to determine.
To boost your body’s store of magnesium, eat plenty of the following:
Nuts: Brazil, cashews, almonds, and almond butter.
Beans: black, navy, pinto, lima, kidney.
Seeds: pumpkin, flax, sesame, sunflower.
Leafy greens: spinach, Swiss chard, turnip greens, beet greens, collard greens, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, romaine lettuce.
Fruits: papaya, raspberries, tomato, cantaloupe, strawberries, watermelon.
Rice/Whole Grains: quinoa, buckwheat, brown rice, millet, oats, rye, wheat.
Herbs/Spices: basil, coriander, chives, cumin seed, parsley, mustard seeds, fennel.
Other good magnesium sources are unsweetened cocoa powder, and both summer and winter squash.
Supplements and Soaks
If you decide to use a supplement, you’ll find there are several types of magnesium available. Consider doing a bit of research - or consult a doctor or pharmacist - since some of forms of magnesium have stool softening or laxative properties that you may want—or not.
Magnesium glycinate is a generally good choice for those attempting to correct a deficiency because of its high absorption and bio-availability levels. Avoid supplements containing magnesium stearate, a potentially harmful additive. If you are on any medications, check with your doctor before adding a new supplement to your diet.
If you’d rather forego supplementation but enjoy tub soaks or soothing foot baths, you can boost your body’s magnesium by adding epsom salt, which is a magnesium sulfate, to the water.