When it comes to minerals such as magnesium, calcium and potassium, people with diabetes may get too much of a good thing. While these minerals benefit your body in some ways, in others they are related to diabetes. Learn how these well-known minerals may have an impact on diabetes and other related health issues.
- Often referred to as one of the building blocks to life, magnesium is transported from your blood into your cells by insulin. When you have a magnesium deficiency, you may develop insulin resistance. This can be a precursor to conditions such as diabetes or heart disease. Insulin regulates the entry of sugar into the cells to create energy. A diet that includes the right amount of magnesium can help reduce your risk of developing these health conditions. The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for magnesium for adult men is 410 to 420 mg/d and 310 to 320 mg/d for women, depending on your age.
- Recent studies show magnesium levels tend to be lower in people with diabetes. Other conditions linked to magnesium deficiency include cardiovascular disease, hypertension, and ketoacidosis as well as calcium deficiency and potassium deficiency. Certain diabetes medications can raise magnesium levels, such as Pioglitazone and Metformin. Include foods in your diet that have plenty of magnesium, such as almonds, whole grains and spinach. Your doctor may recommend taking magnesium supplements to help improve your insulin sensitivity and reduce your blood pressure. Always consult with your physician before taking magnesium supplements. Too much magnesium can lead to toxicity. Symptoms include nausea, muscle weakness, hypotension, irregular heartbeat and urine retention. Your doctor may decide to measure your serum magnesium levels.
- Potassium is frequently called an electrolyte because these mineral ions carry impulses, including nerve impulses, to your cells. Potassium is essential to help your muscles contract, regulate your heartbeat and maintain a proper fluid balance in your body. The amount of electrolytes in your body is controlled by your kidneys. When they function properly, kidneys regular the amount of potassium needed by your body. People who have diabetes are prone to developing kidney disease. If your kidneys function improperly, you should be mindful of your potassium intake as potassium levels in your body can increase.
- Your doctor can order a blood test to determine the amount of potassium in your blood. High potassium levels may occur when diabetes is poorly managed, especially if the patient has damage to the kidneys. If a person has diabetic ketoacidosis, potassium levels can also get too high. Excessive potassium can lead to weakness, paralysis, irregular heartbeat and heart attack. Conversely, low potassium levels can be caused by dehydration from perspiring, diarrhea or vomiting as well as conditions such as severe burns, cystic fibrosis or an adrenal gland problem. Talk to your doctor about potassium levels and your kidneys. Have your micro albumin level checked to detect possible kidney damage.
- Calcium is often recommended for strong teeth and bones. But recent research has shown too much calcium may lead to cardiovascular disease, ischemic heart disease and stroke. Despite the boon to take calcium supplements, it is important to ask your doctor before you do it as cardiovascular disease is a major health problem for people with diabetes. However, the right amount of calcium can have some beneficial effects on insulin resistance. Researchers typically recommend the same dose of calcium and vitamin D for people with diabetes as what is recommended for most people. Consider 1,200 mg of calcium daily with 800 IU of vitamin D, but always talk to your health care provider first.
- It is best to get essential nutrients from foods rather than supplements. Eat a well-balanced diet that includes whole grains, fruits and vegetables, lean cuts of meat and fish and fat-free or low-fat dairy products. Include diabetic foods in your diet to add some flavor and help ward off cravings for foods you should avoid.
Magnesium, calcium and potassium are all linked with cardiovascular health and proper management of body fluids. People with diabetes should be aware of the ideal intake levels of these essential minerals. Remember too much or too little of these good things can lead to other health complications.