Diabetes is on the rise, especially in the developed world. Easy access to high calorie, sugar laden foods is one reason. Sedentary lifestyles also contribute to the problem. For some, genetics plays a part. Now deficiency of two traces minerals, magnesium and chromium, has been shown to contribute to Type 2 diabetes in some cases.
The Role of Exercise and Diet in Controlling Type 2 Diabetes
It is common knowledge that exercise and a sensible diet are important components of managing Type 2 diabetes. A consistent exercise program helps the body to utilize glucose and increases insulin sensitivity so the glucose is processed more easily. A diet high in fresh vegetables, moderate amounts of fish and meat and small amounts of complex carbohydrates also helps maintain stable glucose levels.
Magnesium and Chromium Deficiency in Type 2 Diabetes
A recent study by Diwan, et al has shown that many Type 2 diabetics have lower than average blood levels of magnesium and chromium. Chromium is part of glucose tolerance factor and improves glucose utilization. Chromium is also directly involved in carbohydrate, fat and protein metabolism.
Magnesium has many functions in the human body. It is used in muscle and nerve functioning and supports immune system and bone health. Magnesium plays a part in protein synthesis and energy metabolism. It also helps in controlling and preventing hypertension, and cardiovascular disease. Its role in Type 2 diabetes is in regulating blood sugar levels.
As both of these trace minerals play a part in controlling insulin and glucose, it makes sense for Type 2 diabetics to ensure that they get enough magnesium and chromium. The dark, green leafy types of vegetables and cruciferous types including broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale and bok choy have long been considered good sources for trace minerals. Other sources include beans and peas, nuts and seeds and whole grains.
How Depleted Soils Contribute to Magnesium and Chromium Deficiency
These trace minerals were once found in fresh produce and were, therefore, rarely a problem. Intensive farming practices have, however, depleted many trace minerals from the soil. It is only recently that the importance of these trace minerals in the diet has been established. And fertilizer companies are just starting to produce soil amendments that contain these trace minerals.
Magnesium and Chromium Supplements
In the meantime, it is probably wise for Type 2 diabetics to include magnesium and chromium supplements in their management program. Recommended daily intake of magnesium for adults is 350mg per day. Excess magnesium does not appear to cause serious health problems but if diarrhea and abdominal cramping occur after taking magnesium, dosage should be lowered.