Association of Oral Magnesium with Type-2 Diabetes

Influence of magnesium status and intake on blood glucose control

By Carolyn Dean, MD, ND

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Sales CH, Pedrosa LF, Lima JG, Lemos TM, Colli C. Influence of magnesium status and magnesium intake on the blood glucose control in patients with type 2 diabetes. Clin Nutr. 2011 Jan 31. [Epub ahead of print]


Fifty-one type 2 diabetics with an age range of 53.6 ± 10.5 yr were assessed using three 24-hour magnesium intake recalls, urine, plasma and erythrocyte magnesium, fasting and 2-hour postprandial glucose, glycohemoglobin (HbA1C), microalbuminuria, proteinuria, and serum and urine creatinine.

Key Findings

Seventy-seven percent of participants presented 1 or more magnesium status parameters below the low normal range. Magnesium intake was inadequate in most subjects (82 percent). According to the researchers, “The results presented here show that magnesium intake by the study population was inadequate and that a high percentage of individuals presented alterations in the status of this mineral.”
  1. Urine magnesium (2.80 ± 1.51 mmol/d): Low end of normal range=3.00 mmol/L
  2. Plasma magnesium (0.71 ± 0.08 mmol/L): Low end of normal range=0.75 mmol/L
  3. Erythrocyte magnesium (1.92 ± 0.23 mmol/L): Low end of normal range=1.65 mmol/L.
Subjects had evidence of poor blood glucose control with fasting glucose of 8.1 ± 3.7 mmol/L or 145 ± 66 mg/dL (reference range: 3.6–5.8 mmol/L or 64.8–104.4 mg/dL); 2-hour postprandial glucose of 11.1 ± 5.1 mmol/L (200 ± 91 mg/dL) (reference range: <10 mmol/L or <180 mg/dl), and HbA1C of 11.4 ± 3.0%. The parameters that influenced fasting glucose were urine, plasma, and dietary magnesium, while plasma magnesium was influenced by creatinine clearance.
Magnesium intake by the study population was inadequate and a high percentage of individuals presented alterations in the status of this mineral.

Practice Implications

This study set out to assess magnesium intake and magnesium levels in patients with type 2 diabetes. More than 325 magnesium-dependent enzymes allow magnesium to function as a cofactor in a wide range of metabolic reactions. The researchers in this study acknowledge that insulin function is dependent on magnesium, which is responsible for the activation of insulin receptors and for stimulation of proteins and substrates involved in insulin signaling. The researchers cite previous research suggesting that magnesium intake of patients with diabetes is very often below recommended levels. They cite evidence that low levels of magnesium may influence the evolution of the disease by generating further complications.
The incidence of diabetes in the United States is 7.8 percent for diagnosed and undiagnosed cases.1 The National Academy of Sciences has determined that most American men only obtain about 80 percent of the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of magnesium, and women average only 70 percent.2
In this study, as noted above, 77 percent of participants presented one or more magnesium status parameters below the low normal range, and 63 percent were found to have low concentrations of plasma magnesium.
The researchers found that the higher the fasting and 2-hour glucose levels, the lower the concentration of plasma magnesium. They also found that long-term high blood sugar levels cause loss of magnesium in the urine, putting diabetic patients at risk for complications (eg, kidney pathology) and may exacerbate and aggravate other conditions associated with diabetes. As the kidney becomes impaired in diabetes, magnesium can be lost magnesium in the urine, and glucose in the blood can rise further.
What this study means for clinicians in practice is that almost everyone is susceptible to magnesium deficiency, just as almost everyone is susceptible to diabetes. Since magnesium is such a powerful nutrient, driving more than 325 magnesium-dependent enzymes, its importance cannot be emphasized enough. While encouraging all patients to maintain a good diet (high in fiber, protein, complex carbohydrates, etc.) exercise daily, get adequate rest and minimize stress, it would be wise to monitor daily magnesium intake from the diet and ensure it is above 500 mg daily, supplementing those who need it.
Table: Magnesium Content of Selected Foods
From The Magnesium Miracle (Ballantine Books, 2007)

Magnesium (mg) per 3.5 oz. (100g/10 Tbsp)



Wheat Bran 490
Wheat Germ 336
Cashews 267
Molasses 258
Yeast, Brewer's 231
Buckwheat 229
Brazil Nuts 225
Dulse 220
Filberts 184
Peanuts 175
Wheat Grain 160
Millet 162
Pecans 142
English Walnuts 131
Rye 115


About the Author

Carolyn Dean, MD, ND, author of The Magnesium Miracle (Ballantine Books, 2007) and many other books/booklets, has been at the forefront of natural medicine for more than 30 years. She holds a medical license in California and is a graduate of the Ontario Naturopathic College. She has a complimentary newsletter and an online wellness program called Future Health Now!, which is her answer to the current healthcare crisis. Her web site is


1. National diabetes statistics, 2011. National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse Web site. Accessed February 28, 2011.
2. Institute of Medicine. Dietary reference intake for calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, vitamin D, and fluoride. Washington, DC: National Academy Press; 1997.