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Get Your Magnesium: Avoiding Type 2 Diabetes
We know that obesity is the single strongest risk factor for developing type 2 diabetes. That said, it also appears that eating certain foods helps to reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes. These foods, which include whole grains, beans, nuts, and fruits and vegetables, are all high in magnesium.

Keep Your Strength Up with Magnesium
It's all too common to see a loss of skeletal muscle mass in the elderly, a condition known as sarcopenia. It's a strong risk factor for both disability and mortality. We also know, from studies in the young, that magnesium supplementation can help increase muscle strength, and that the elderly tend to be magnesium-deficient.

Are there foods that will affect A-fib or the prostate?
There has been some evidence that magnesium levels might have an influence on heart rhythm but there's no clear evidence that I have seen to indicate any particular food will help control atrial fibrillation or atrial flutter.


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Magnesium and irregular heart beats

A number of my patients have trouble with irregular heart beats. It can be very common and is people call this many different things. Some feel they are having "skipped beats" or a "flip-flop" of the heart. Many will call these palpitations and it is best described as a feeling that the heart has jumped or beaten out of sequence.

While a lot of people have skipped beats, many will not feel them and only know because their doctor told them of it. For the most part the irregular beats are benign and are the effect of an early beat from the heart's ventricle or atrium. If it is from the ventricle we call this a Premature Ventricular Contraction (PVC). As you might expect, beats that originate in the atrium are Premature Atrial Contractions (PAC).

There can be a number of causes, and there are many much more serious problems with heart rhythms. It has been shown that magnesium may play a role in premature beats such as PACs and PVCs. In an effort to see if a diet low in magnesium might contribute to an increase in early heart beats, researchers at the USDA Agricultural Research Service studied 22 post-menopausal women by asking them to eat a diet that was designed to be low in magnesium (Am J Clin Nutr 2002;75(3):550-4).

The women were divided into two groups. One group was fed a diet that contained less than half of the Recommended Daily Allowance of magnesium (this is 320 mg for women and 400 mg for men). The other group consumed a diet that was supplemented with magnesium. Each group ate their diet for 81 days and then they switched to the other diet (researchers call this a "crossover" design).

Blood tests were taken to measure magnesium, and their heart rhythms were recorded using a device that the participants wore for up to 21 hours at a time. While their blood tests didn't show a decrease in magnesium levels when the women were on the low magnesium diet, they had many more early heart beats documented by the monitor.

The researchers suggested that those who may not get enough magnesium in their diets, or those taking diuretics, may want to supplement with magnesium. There is a feeling that those who live in areas with a supply of soft water may also experience a decrease in their intake of magnesium.

What this means for you

If you are having skipped beats, palpitations or any type of heart racing, check with your doctor. It is not likely serious. You and your physician may want to discuss supplements, but the best way to get magnesium in your diet is to make sure your diet is one that is rich in legumes, nuts, fruits, veggies and fish. Go to the website to view a list of the amounts of magnesium in some foods.

First posted: June 28, 2006