Close to 30 million adults in the U.S. have diabetes – most cases consisting of type 2 diabetes. In order to prevent chronic conditions like diabetes, people revamp their lifestyle by eating healthier and exercising more. But when it comes to diet, what nutrients should people with diabetes focus on? Studies suggest that individuals with higher magnesium intake are less likely to develop type 2 diabetes.
In one recent study, researchers looked at how magnesium intake impacted the progression of diabetes from normal blood sugar to prediabetes, and then from prediabetes to type 2 diabetes. Over 2,500 men and women between the ages of 26 and 81 years old were followed for seven years. An oral glucose test was used to test their blood sugar and a dietary questionnaire was used to determine how much magnesium they were getting in their diet. Researchers found that for those with normal blood sugar at the beginning of the study, higher magnesium intake gave them a 37 percent lower risk of developing prediabetes. For those who already had metabolic impairment at the beginning of the study, higher magnesium intake was associated with a 32 percent lower risk of the metabolic impairment turning into diabetes.
The researchers believed that magnesium helped with both insulin sensitivity and also insulin production.
Many Americans do not eat a diet rich in magnesium. The recommended daily allowance for magnesium is about 400 milligrams per day for men and 300 milligrams per day for women (NIH, 2016). Magnesium rich foods include spinach, tofu, almonds, broccoli, lentils, pumpkin and sunflower seeds. Raw spinach is virtually tasteless so including a cup of spinach in a smoothie is an easy way to increase magnesium. Almond butter, pumpkin and sunflower seeds are easy add-ins to your favorite muffin recipes.
Magnesium supplements are also easily available. Assuring that you are getting enough magnesium and other nutrients and minerals in your diet through a multivitamin may be an important step in diabetes prevention. It’s important to note that one vitamin won’t be the one key to prevent a disease like diabetes. Eating a well balanced diet that provides many vitamins and exercising regularly are essential when it comes to preventive healthcare.
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Tracy Davenport, Ph.D., is a freelance health writer and the C.E.O. of Tracy’s Smoothie Place. She serves as the expert on a weekly radio show about health and wellness and is the author of Making Life Better for a Baby with Acid Reflux and multiple articles about the cost of caregiving. Learn more about Tracy and what healthy living services and products she can offer on her website. She can also be found on Twitter and Instagram @drinksmoothies.