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Diabetes | Magnesium Deficiency and Insulin-Resistance Syndrome

Magnesium Deficiency and Insulin-Resistance Syndrome

A large proportion of people with the insulin-resistance syndrome (IRS) are deficient in magnesium, according to a report in Acta Diabetologica (2002;39:209–13). This discovery raises the possibility that magnesium supplementation might help reduce the risk of heart disease and diabetes, which occur frequently in people with this syndrome.

IRS (also called Syndrome X or the metabolic syndrome) is a common abnormality of metabolism in which the cells and tissues of the body do not respond properly to the hormone insulin. Manifestations of IRS include elevated blood levels of triglycerides, obesity (particularly in the abdominal region), reduced levels of high density lipoprotein (HDL; “good”) cholesterol, high blood pressure, and moderately increased blood sugar levels. People with IRS are at increased risk of developing heart disease and diabetes. In a recent national survey, more than one-fifth of Americans were found to have IRS, with older individuals being most frequently affected. Participating in a regular exercise program and losing weight (if obese) can improve, but may not completely reverse, many of the abnormalities seen in IRS.

Previous research, some conflicting, has indicated that magnesium supplementation can lower triglyceride levels, increase HDL cholesterol, improve blood sugar regulation, and reduce elevated blood pressure. Thus, there is considerable overlap between the manifestations of IRS and the effects of inadequate magnesium intake. Furthermore, human and animal studies have shown that magnesium may be effective for the prevention and treatment of heart disease.

In the new study, serum concentrations of magnesium were measured in 192 people with IRS and in 384 others without the syndrome. Individuals at risk for magnesium deficiency (such as those using diuretics or consuming excessive amounts of alcohol) were excluded from the study. The prevalence of a low magnesium level was 65.6% among those with IRS, compared with only 4.9% of those in the control group. The results demonstrated that there is a strong association between magnesium deficiency and IRS.

The typical Western diet is low in magnesium; in one study less than 30% of participants achieved the Recommended Dietary Allowance for this mineral. Low dietary intake is due in large part to excessive use of refined and processed foods; for example, the refining of whole wheat to white flour and the refining of sugar cane to refined sugar remove nearly 80% and 100%, respectively, of the magnesium in these foods. Stress, alcohol consumption, and the use of some prescription drugs also tend to deplete magnesium from the body.

A growing body of evidence indicates that magnesium deficiency is a widespread problem and that it may contribute to the development of heart disease. Other research has shown that magnesium supplementation can reduce the recurrence rate of calcium oxalate kidney stones, help prevent osteoporosis and migraines, relieve many symptoms associated with mitral valve prolapse, and help combat fatigue.

Alan R. Gaby, MD, an expert in nutritional therapies, testified to the White House Commission on CAM upon request in December 2001. Dr. Gaby served as a member of the Ad-Hoc Advisory Panel of the National Institutes of Health Office of Alternative Medicine. He is the author of Preventing and Reversing Osteoporosis (Prima, 1994), and co-author of The Natural Pharmacy, 2nd Edition (Healthnotes, Prima, 1999), the A–Z Guide to Drug-Herb-Vitamin Interactions (Healthnotes, Prima, 1999), Clinical Essentials Volume 1 and 2 (Healthnotes, 2000), and The Patient’s Book of Natural Healing (Prima, 1999). A former professor at Bastyr University of Natural Health Sciences, in Kenmore, WA, where he served as the Endowed Professor of Nutrition, Dr. Gaby is the Chief Medical Editor for Healthnotes, Inc.

Copyright © 2003 Healthnotes, Inc. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of the Healthnotes® content is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Healthnotes, Inc. Healthnotes Newswire is for educational or informational purposes only, and is not intended to diagnose or provide treatment for any condition. If you have any concerns about your own health, you should always consult with a healthcare professional. Healthnotes, Inc. shall not be liable for any errors or delays in the content, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon. Healthnotes and the Healthnotes logo are registered trademarks of Healthnotes, Inc.

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The health information contained in this site is not intended as medical advice and should not be considered a substitute for appropriate medical care. Any products mentioned in studies cited in Healthnotes articles are not necessarily endorsed by Bastyr. As with any product, consult with a natural health practitioner to discuss what may be best for you.

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