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Magnesium supplementation may help improve insulin sensitivity and lower the risk of diabetes in overweight patients, according to a recent study.

In the study, 52 overweight non-diabetic adults were randomly assigned to receive either 365 milligrams of magnesium-aspartate-hydrochloride or placebo daily for six months.

The researchers found that insulin resistance significantly improved in the magnesium group after six months of supplementation. Blood pressure and cholesterol levels were not significantly affected by supplementation.

The researchers evaluated magnesium intake, inflammatory markers and diabetes diagnoses in 4,497 adults who did not have diabetes. They found that that people who consumed the most magnesium were 47 percent less likely to develop diabetes than those who consumed the least amount. Additionally, higher magnesium levels were linked to lower inflammatory markers and improvements in insulin resistance.

While the results are promising, more research is needed to determine if magnesium has a protective effect against diabetes. However, when taken appropriately, magnesium is relatively benign and I see no reason to wait for more definitive studies provided that you discuss what you are doing and why with your health care provider.

I always check my diabetic patients for red blood cell magnesium, which is an important marker. While most believe that magnesium should be taken in a 2:1 ratio of calcium to magnesium, recent data suggesting that calcium might increase arterial calcifications is disconcerting. I am waiting to see more research in this regard.

So I advise my diabetic patients to take 100 to 250 mg of magnesium, preferably magnesium aspartate or citrate which are more absorbable forms.

Remember, too much magnesium can cause diarrhea.

Dr. Sam Benjamin, M.D. - Integrative Medicine, weekend show host

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