A new study out of the University of North Carolina has shown that those who consume the most magnesium cut their risk of developing type 2 diabetes over the next 20 years, approximately in half. That's a huge difference. But, it's not the first such study. A large study out of Harvard Univeristy done in 2003 and involving over 125,000 people produced similar results.
Why would magnesium lower the risk of diabetes? We think of magnesium as a hard mineral, like calcium, and it is the second most abundant mineral in bone after calcium. However, magnesium is more than a structural mineral. It is also an enzymatic mineral. It acts as a "co-factor" in many of the body's chemical reactions, including reactions that process glucose. So far, we know of over 300 biochemical reactions in which magnesium serves as co-factor, but there may be more.
Magnesium is widely distributed in natural foods, and the best sources are plants. Nuts, beans, and whole grains are all rich in magnesium. Green vegetables are high in magnesium, and the greener they are, the more magnesium they have. That's because magnesium is at the center of the chlorophyll molecule which produces the green color. Hence, the green color is the visual manifestation of the presence of magnesium. It's odd because magnesium, by itself, is white, not green. But, within the ring-like structure of chlorophyll with magnesium at the center, it acts like a prism that turns it green. Spinach is often listed as a rich source of magnesium, and that's because it is so green. Fruits also provide magneisum, with bananas and figs being the highest among the commonly eaten fruits.
If your diet is high in animal foods and refined foods, you will come up short in magnesium. You must eat a wide variety of unrefined plants in order to get enough magnesium. How much magnesium do you need? The current RDA for magnesum in adults is 400 mgs. If every bite of food you eat is an unrefined plant, I do believe you will get that much or more. The average American is said to be getting only 250 to 300 mgs a day- a marginal deficiency which, over time, increases the risk of disease. And, it's alarming to realize that children are among the most shortchanged in magnesium.
But, if you are an adult eating a healthy, plant-based diet, as I recommend, do you also need magnesium supplements? I'll answer by saying that I don't mind a bit that my Extend Core Multi from VRP provides an extra 150 mgs of magnesium per day. I consider it good insurance, and it has the most absorbable forms of magnesium, such as magnesium aspartate and magnesium citrate. Magnesium succinate and magnesium taurinate are also good forms of magnesium, much better than the old standard magnesium oxide, which is poorly absorbed. So, I'm sure I'm getting enough magnesium, but if I had certain health problems, such as high blood pressure, I would take even higher amounts. We offer an all-magnesium supplement called Opti-Mag which is excellent and has multiple forms of readily absorbed magnesium. And, I think of Opti-Mag as a therapeutic supplement, as a way of using magnesium to address certain health issues. ADD in children or adults is another condition for which extra magnesium is warranted.
But, it starts with eating an unrefined, plant-based diet. That's the key to getting enough magnesium and so many other vital nutrients. Plants rule!