Magnesium, sodium, and potassium are all essential minerals but people can also get too much of a good thing. Discover how common minerals may have an impact on diabetes and other related health conditions.

  • Magnesium is one of the building blocks to life. Without insulin, magnesium cannot be transported from our blood into our cells. A magnesium deficiency can lead to insulin resistance, which is a precursor to diabetes and heart disease as well as nephropathy and retinopathy. Insulin is also essential to regulate sugar entry into the cells. A diet that includes magnesium can help ward off health conditions. The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for magnesium is up to 420 mg/d for adult men and 320 mg/d for adult women.
  • Studies have revealed intracellular free magnesium and mean plasma levels are lower in people with diabetes. The ADA recommends measuring serum magnesium levels for people who have diabetes with other conditions such as congestive heart failure and acute myocardial infarction. Levels should also be measured in those who have alcohol abuse, calcium deficiency or ketoacidosis. Other conditions where magnesium may be measured include potassium deficiency, pregnancy and long-term use of certain drugs such as digoxin and diuretics.
  • Magnesium deficiency is linked to type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, osteoporosis, and migraine headaches. When magnesium is low, urinary excretion is reduced. Certain diabetes treatments may raise magnesium levels including Metformin and Pioglitazone. Doctors may advise people with diabetes to use magnesium supplements taken in a pill. The supplements can improve insulin sensitivity and reduce blood pressure. Foods with magnesium include spinach, whole grains and almonds.
  • Excessive doses of magnesium can lead to magnesium toxicity. People with normally functioning kidneys typically excrete excess magnesium in their urine. High levels of magnesium can lead to muscle weakness, nausea and urine retention as well as hypotension, vomiting and irregular heartbeat. Consult with a physician before taking magnesium supplements.
  • Potassium is often the mineral referred to an electrolyte much like sodium and magnesium. These electrically charged ions carry impulses, such as nerve impulses, to other cells. Kidneys help to maintain the amount of electrolytes in your body. Potassium works to regulate your heartbeat and help muscles contract. It also helps maintain proper fluid balance between your cells and body fluids. When your kidneys function normally they regulate the amount of potassium your body needs.
  • People with diabetes who have kidney disease must be careful about their potassium intake. When kidneys do not work as they should, potassium levels in the body can get dangerously high. A safe level of potassium is between 3.9 and 5.2 mq. per liter. Your physician can use a simple blood test to measure your amount of potassium. High potassium can occur when diabetes is poorly managed with related kidney damage. It can also happen if someone had a metabolic condition called diabetic ketoacidosis commonly seen in people with type 1 diabetes. Too much potassium can lead to irregular heartbeat, paralysis, weakness, and heart attack.
  • Low potassium levels can be a result of dehydration from vomiting, perspiring or diarrhea. They can also be the result of cystic fibrosis, severe burns or an adrenal gland problem. Discuss concerns about your potassium levels and kidneys with your doctor. Make sure to get your micro albumin level checked each year to detect kidney damage.
  • People with diabetes are at a greater risk for high blood pressure. High levels of salt in your diet can increase that risk. Your physician may recommend avoiding high-salt foods such as salty snacks, soy sauces and packaged or processed foods. Better choices include fresh foods with no salt added or low-sodium canned goods.
  • A no-salt diet is never recommended for people with diabetes. Small levels of salt help to maintain proper fluid balance. Try not to exceed 1,500 mg of sodium per day to ward off hypertension and cardiovascular problems. Use a blood pressure monitor at home to check your cardiovascular health. Discuss high blood pressure readings with your physician.

Magnesium, salt, and potassium are all connected to proper body fluid management and cardiovascular health. It is important for people with diabetes to consume the proper levels of each of these minerals.