Minerals are not made in our body and need to be obtained through nutritional intake. There are two types of minerals that fall under the categories of trace and major minerals. They are classified by weight and your body needs large amounts of major minerals (>100 mg/day) and less of the trace minerals (<100 mg/day). Major minerals include: calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, chloride and sulfur. Trace minerals include: iron, copper, zinc, manganese, fluoride, selenium and cobalt.
Minerals are vital because without them your body would not be able to build new tissue, contract muscles, transmit nerve impulses, clot blood, maintain a neutral pH and keep your heart beating.
There has been news recently on one of the “major” minerals, magnesium, which has been positively linked to insulin and blood sugar in recent research. The adult body contains approximately 25 grams of magnesium, with 50% to 60% present in the bones and most of the rest in soft tissues (Volpe, 2012). Magnesium is the fourth most abundant mineral in your body. The National Institute of Health recommends 400-420 mg/day for men and 310-320 mg/day for women. Foods that are rich in magnesium are: spinach, bread, fish, meat, dairy foods, flaxseed, almond butter, and nuts. A long-term deficiency in a major or trace mineral can lead to not only poor health but serious illness as well.
A 2013 study published in The Journal of Nutrition, looked at data on 52,000 subjects who had no history of diabetes to determine how magnesium affected blood sugar. The study showed a higher intake of magnesium resulted in lower fasting blood sugar and lower fasting insulin levels.
A second study published in 2013, involving pre-diabetics, found that most had inadequate magnesium intake. The subjects with the highest magnesium intake reduced their risk for blood sugar and metabolic problems by a significant 71 percent.
The two studies cited, as well as many other previously published papers, show a strong association with adequate amounts of magnesium on reducing blood sugar levels, helping with other metabolic problems while slowing the progression of pre-diabetes. It might be time to start eating your spinach!
Volpe SL. Magnesium. In: Erdman JW, Macdonald IA, Zeisel SH, eds. Present Knowledge in Nutrition. 10th ed. Ames, Iowa; John Wiley & Sons, 2012:459-74.
Higher Magnesium Intake Is Associated with Lower Fasting Glucose and Insulin, with No Evidence of Interaction with Select Genetic Loci, in a Meta-Analysis of 15 CHARGE Consortium Studies. J. Nutrition (2013) 143 (3): 345-353.
Jinsong Wang, Gioia Persuitte et al., Dietary Magnesium Intake Improves Insulin Resistance among Non-Diabetic Individuals with Metabolic Syndrome Participating in a Dietary Trial. Nutrients (2013) 5(10): 3910-3919; doi:10.3390/nu5103910