Magnesium and Metabolic Syndrome If you thought that only over-nutrition and obesity is the cause of insulin resistance (which leads to abdominal fat and other health risks like diabetes, hypertension and coronary heart disease), think again! Nutritional deficiencies and malnutrition can also be a reason for your developing high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease. The role of magnesium deficiency in particular seem to be emerging as an important cause for insulin resistance, high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease and metabolic syndrome, often even in the absence of obesity.
Magnesium is an essential mineral found abundantly in foods like whole grains, leafy green vegetables, legumes, peas, beans and nuts (specially almonds), and some shellﬁsh. Magnesium plays an important role in several enzymatic reactions including carbohydrate metabolism in the body.
Many epidemiological studies have described inverse relationships between a magnesium-rich food intake and diabetes, insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome. In a Boston based study in 2006, higher magnesium intake was associated with a 31% lower risk of developing metabolic Syndrome over 15 years of follow up. In another large study, called the Women’s Health Study, high magnesium status was associated with a 27% of lower risk of metabolic syndrome. The Shanghai Women’s Health Study also suggests that calcium and magnesium may protect against the development of type 2 diabetes.
Profound changes in the environment occurred too fast for the genome to adjust. This led to the emergence of so-called diseases of civilization, first described in agriculture, and that can be extended in modern food industry. Intensive agriculture has been related to grass tetany in dairy cows, a disease due to an acute decrease of plasma magnesium. Similarly, food refining leads to a reduction of the micronutrient density and thereby induces a marginal magnesium intake, resulting in a higher prevalence of magnesium deficiency in Westernized populations.
Recent findings confirm that the occidental (Western) diet is relatively deficient in magnesium. Moreover, a diet rich in animal foods and poor in vegetable foods induces acidosis and increases magnesium urinary excretion and causes magnesium depletion. There is experimental and clinical evidence that the amount of magnesium in urban and western diets is insufficient to meet individual needs and that magnesium deficiency may be contributing to common health problems. Data from the U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) showed that the average intake of magnesium was below the recommended daily intake. According to recent research published in March 2012 in 'Nutrition Reviews', more than half (56%) of the U.S. population consumed less than required amounts of magnesium from food in 2001-02, which corresponded to a sharp increase in type-2 diabetes in the U.S.
Besides imbalanced diets, stress and several lifestyle factors including certain medicines lower magnesium levels. Magnesium deficiency is also common among those suffering from chronic digestive problems, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), crohn's, ulcerative colitis, mal-absorption, celiac disease, endocrine problems, vitamin D deficiency, diabetes, chronic alcoholism, or among those who consume excess sugar, caffeine, colas or salt. Excessive sweating as in athletes and heavy menstrual periods can also deplete magnesium levels.
Hard water has been found to contain more magnesium than soft water. Cooking decreases the magnesium content of food. Excessive consumption of high calorie, low micro-nutrient refined foods can lead to deficiencies of magnesium.
Several mechanisms including improvement of glucose and insulin metabolism and reducing inflammation have been suggested. In other words, increasing magnesium intake may be important for improving insulin sensitivity, inflammation, and decreasing diabetes risk. Magnesium is easily found in food. So don’t hold back on the handful of nuts or pumpkin seeds and take generous helping of those leafy greens to protect yourself from diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure.