A new magnesium study recently published by doctors at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill suggests that getting enough magnesium could help you ward off diabetes. Researchers discovered that participants who took in the highest amounts of magnesium -- whether from foods or vitamins -- were half as likely to end up with diabetes 20 years later than the participants who took the lowest amounts of magnesium.
Experts have a couple of theories about how magnesium reduces diabetes risk. First, it is conceivable that magnesium is used by the body's enzymes to process glucose, thus reducing the risk of diabetes. Researchers also noted that increased levels of magnesium were correlated with decreased inflammation and less resistance to insulin, the hormone that regulates blood sugar levels.
So how much magnesium did the participants take? The people who took the most consumed about 200 milligrams of magnesium per 1,000 calories. The people who took the least only consumed roughly 100 milligrams per 1,000 calories. The difference was significant: those who didn't take enough magnesium were 53% more likely to develop diabetes at some point down the road.
While researchers call for more studies to get the specifics, I will say what I have said before: we are overly concerned about calcium consumption when we should really be paying attention to increasing our magnesium intake. This latest study is further evidence of this assertion. I have never been a huge proponent of calcium supplements. Yes, calcium is a necessary nutrient, but its overuse as a supplement has been connected to a plethora of health concerns from heart disease to arthritis. I continue to assert that the only reason the recommended dietary intake for calcium is so high is because it makes a great advertising campaign for the dairy industry…who funded some of the initial studies used to establish the RDI. And what makes that especially pathetic is that dairy is a terrible source of calcium, actually causing a net loss of calcium in the body because so much is required to buffer the high levels of phosphorus in dairy.
The fact is that you need at least enough magnesium to offset your calcium intake. Without it, you could be in danger of developing hardened arteries, diabetes, arthritis, and senility. Magnesium is responsible for jumpstarting nearly 400 enzyme reactions inside your body. So a deficiency can wreak havoc on literally hundreds of different body processes. Compounding the problem is your body's inability to store magnesium for use later. You really need more magnesium than calcium in your diet. The medical establishment still has it wrong though, telling everyone to consume two times more calcium than magnesium.
In reality, the the opposite is true. You need much more magnesium than is recommended because your body requires it for so many different things and it's a hard mineral to absorb. Too bad it's the mineral that is most likely to be undervalued in most diets and supplements.