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March 9, 2002

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Question from Milroy Pennsylvania, USA:

I have had type 1 diabetes for 27 years. I have been on an insulin pump for a year and a half, and I am now tired all the time. Recent lab work shows I have low magnesium, calcium, and anion gap levels. I was on magnesium a few years ago, but this did not help the last time. How do the levels affect me? How are they related to my blood sugar control? I have asked my family doctor this who says there is no relation, but my endocrinologist says the magnesium level affects sugar control. I do not understand.

Answer:

There’s a long discussion about this subject in Magnesium Supplementation in the Treatment of Diabetes, which a Consensus Statement of the American Diabetes Association. In brief, they say that magnesium might be helpful for some people with diabetes, but the data doesn’t support routine testing or routine supplementation.

About thirty years ago, there was a big push to promote magnesium supplementation in both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. However, even though a degree of deficiency has been well documented over the years, the evidence of actual clinical benefit has never been all that convincing. If you search ‘magnesium deficiency in diabetes’ in PubMed you will get over 100 references, nearly all of which will require a pilgrimage to a medical library.

MS