A new study published in the journal Diabetes Care tells us that magnesium, a mineral abundant in green leafy vegetables, may help prevent the progression of prediabetes to full-blown type 2 diabetes. It's an easy way to stop diabetes before it starts.
Dr. Ka He and colleagues at the University of North Carolina and colleagues have learned that over a 20-year period, people who get magnesium from eating their veggies or by taking supplements are only about half as likely to develop type 2 as people who do not. To research the possible link, the North Carolina research team followed 4,497 men and women aged 18 to 30 for two decades, during which 330 developed diabetes. People who consumed the most of this mineral, about 400 to 600 mg a day for a 2,000 to 3,000 calorie daily diet, were only half as likely to become diabetic as those who consumed 200 to 300 mg per day or less.
Exactly how this vital nutrient protects against having problems with blood glucose regulation is not yet known, but Dr. He and associates noted that higher levels were associated with lower levels of inflammation and better performance of several enzymes necessary for the effective action of insulin. It is also possible that the mineral helps regulate calcium, which is the "trigger" for the release of insulin from the beta cells of the pancreas.
Probably the best way to be sure you get enough of this nutrient is to take a daily supplement, from 600 up to 1,800 mg a day (but not more, because of a potential laxative effect), and to eat spinach, kale, dark lettuce, and whole grains whenever you can. Vegetables are a better source of this trace element than whole grains, because of their gentler effect on blood sugar levels.
Kim DJ, Xun P, Liu K, Loria C, Yokota K, Jacobs DR Jr, He K.
Magnesium Intake in Relation to Systemic Inflammation, Insulin Resistance, and the Incidence of Diabetes.
Diabetes Care. 2010 Aug 31. [Epub ahead of print]