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Nearly half of all people living in the United States are deficient in magnesium. However, people with higher magnesium intake were nearly half as likely to develop type 2 diabetes than those with lower intake, a 2010 study found. Those with higher magnesium intake also had lower markers of inflammation.

Researchers conducted a long-term study in nearly 5,000 healthy young adults to investigate the role that lifestyle and other factors play in the risk of developing cardiovascular disease. They quantified their magnesium intake and measured their inflammatory markers.

They found that those with the highest dietary magnesium intake were 47 percent less likely to develop type 2 diabetes over a 20-year period than those with the lowest intake, even after taking other risk factors into consideration. Levels of inflammatory markers, including C-reactive protein, interleukin-6, and fibrinogen – a protein that participates in clot formation – were lower among those with higher magnesium intake.

Magnesium is an essential mineral and a cofactor for hundreds of the body’s enzymes. Magnesium deficiency is linked with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, and metabolic disorders, including hypertension and type 2 diabetes. Current magnesium intakes among people living in the United States are below recommended levels (400-420 milligrams per day for men and 310-320 milligrams per day for women).

This study highlights the role dietary magnesium plays in health and underscores the mineral’s importance in the human diet. Dietary sources rich in magnesium include green leafy vegetables, unrefined grains, legumes, beans, and nuts. Try this magnesium-rich smoothie recipe to get more of this essential nutrient in your diet.

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