Magnesium: a ‘magical’ mineral for diabetes
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By Mini Padikkal — Does diabetes cause magnesium
deficiency or does magnesium deficiency causes diabetes? Whatever the answer,
scientists agree one thing — it is important to get enough of this ‘magical’
mineral, since it seems to help prevent diabetic complications such as heart
disease, eye disease, kidney disease, and high blood pressure. The metabolic
role of magnesium is so diverse that it is difficult to find a body system that
is not affected by magnesium deficiency. Our cardiovascular system, digestive
system, nervous system, muscles, kidneys, liver, hormone-secreting glands, and
brain all rely on magnesium for their metabolic function.
Evidence shows that people with diabetes are more likely to be lacking in
magnesium. This could be due to increased urination because of abnormal blood
sugar levels and the effect of insulin on the body. Diabetes related kidney
disease also may worsen magnesium problems.
Are you getting enough of this mineral through your diet? Many people don’t.
Inside our bodies, magnesium is found mostly in our bones (60-65 per cent ), but
also in our muscles (25 per cent ), and in other cell types and body fluids.
Like all minerals, magnesium cannot be made in our body and must therefore be
plentiful in our diet in order for us to remain healthy.
Good sources of magnesium include avocados,
pumpkin seeds, swiss chards, dark leafy greens, legumes, whole grains, sea
foods, squash, broccoli, oatmeal and nuts. The impact of cooking and processing
on magnesium can vary greatly from food to food, since magnesium is found in
different forms in different types of food. In some foods, where a greater
percent of magnesium is found in water-soluble form, blanching (boiling or
steaming for 1-4 minutes), steaming, or boiling of these foods can result in a
substantial loss of magnesium. For example, about one third of the magnesium in
spinach is lost after blanching. Similarly, when navy beans are cooked, they
lose 65 per cent of their magnesium.
In other foods that are rich in magnesium, like almonds or peanuts, there is
very little loss of magnesium either from roasting or from processing into
almond or peanut butter (as long as the whole almond or peanut is used).
If you are low in magnesium, you will have a harder time processing
carbohydrates, be more open to insulin resistance, and may suffer high blood
pressure, irregular heart beat and other heart problems, and possibly eye
problems. So try adding more magnesium-rich foods to your diet!
(The writer is a dietician at Atlas Medical Centre, Al Khuwair.)