Lower fat percentage with sufficient magnesium in diet

Sixty percent of the inhabitants of developed countries ingest less magnesium than is healthy. As a result they put down fat reserves more easily, according to an epidemiological study from Taiwan published in Nutrition Journal. The study suggests that elderly people whose diet contains high amounts of magnesium have a much lower body fat percentage and a considerably narrower waist than people whose diet contains little magnesium.

The researchers, at Fu-Jen Catholic University in Taipei, studied 210 over-65s who were suffering from incipient diabetes-2. They asked the participants what they had eaten in the past 24 hours, did blood tests and took body measurements.

The Taiwanese had been inspired by meta-analyses which showed that people who consume large amounts of magnesium are less likely to develop diabetes type-2 than people who have a low magnesium intake. [Diabetes Care. 2011 Sep; 34(9): 2116-22.] On top of that they were aware of studies that showed that magnesium supplementation in people with diabetes type-2 enhanced insulin sensitivity. [Diabetes Care. 2003 Apr; 26(4): 1147-52.]

Nutritionists estimate that adults require 5 mg magnesium per kg bodyweight daily. Because we are eating more and more readymade meals and less and less whole grains, beans, spinach and nuts, we often don’t fulfil this daily requirement.

This was also the case for the over 65s that participated in the study. Almost ninety percent of them got too little magnesium, and almost forty percent had a too low magnesium level, blood analysis revealed.

The researchers discovered that the waist measurement of participants that ingested at least 4.5 mg magnesium per kg bodyweight was on average 7 cm less than that of participants that only managed to ingest 2.3 mg magnesium per kg bodyweight.

The average fat percentage of the participants in the high-magnesium group was 24.5 percent. In the low-magnesium group the figure was 33.3 percent.


In the group with a high magnesium intake the concentration of ‘good cholesterol’, HDL, in the blood was higher too, and the group showed fewer symptoms of depression.

The relationships the researchers uncovered are illustrated in simplified form below. Click on the table for a more detailed version.


“Clinical care should focus on increasing dietary magnesium intake or magnesium supplementation to improve metabolic control, depression, and physical performance in elderly diabetes patients”, the Taiwanese conclude.

Correlation of magnesium intake with metabolic parameters, depression and physical activity in elderly type 2 diabetes patients: a cross-sectional study.

Huang JH, Lu YF, Cheng FC, Lee JN, Tsai LC.

Graduate Institute of Ph.D. Program in Nutrition and Food Science, Fu-JenCatholic University, New Taipei City, Hsinchuang, Taiwan.



Type 2 diabetes mellitus is a major global public health problem in the worldwide and is increasing in aging populations. Magnesium intake may be one of the most important factors for diabetes prevention and management. Low magnesium intake may exacerbate metabolic abnormalities. In this study, the relationships of magnesium intake with metabolic parameters, depression and physical activity in elderly patients with type 2 diabetes were investigated.


This cross-sectional study involved 210 type 2 diabetes patients aged 65?years and above. Participants were interviewed to obtain information on lifestyle and 24-hour dietary recall. Assessment of depression was based on DSM-IV criteria. Clinical variables measured included anthropometric measurements, blood pressure, and biochemical determinations of blood and urine samples. Linear regression was applied to determine the relationships of magnesium intake with nutritional variables and metabolic parameters.


Among all patients, 88.6% had magnesium intake which was less than the dietary reference intake, and 37.1% had hypomagnesaemia. Metabolic syndromes and depression were associated with lower magnesium intake (p?< ?0.05). A positive relationship was found between magnesium intake and HDL-cholesterol (p?=?0.005). Magnesium intake was inversely correlated with triglyceride, waist circumference, body fat percent and body mass index (p?http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22695027