Taking its data from the 2009 China Health and Nutrition Survey (CHNS), which had 5,683 respondents above the age of 18, the study found an inverse association between toenail magnesium and the prevalence of type 2 diabetes.
Several earlier studies had shown a similar association, but with regards to only serum and dietary magnesium, and with inconsistent results. Moreover, those studies involved Western populations, hence making them less relevant to Asian populations.
As such, the China CDC sought to explore the link between toenail magnesium and type 2 diabetes in Chinese men and women.
It found that on average, the survey respondents who did not have type 2 diabetes or were not at high risk for it had higher levels of toenail magnesium than those who had type 2 diabetes or were at high risk.
The study added that this finding was consistent with previous studies conducted among Asian populations, although in this study it was evident only among those residing in the northern region of China, possibly because type 2 diabetes risk factors such as diet, lifestyle, and higher BMI and waist circumference are far more common in this location.
Currently, China is one of Asia’s most diabetic nations by percentage, and has more diabetics than any other country the world. The country’s National Health and Family Planning Commission reported that in 2012, the prevalence of diabetes was 9.7% among those 18 years and older (10.2% among men and 9% among women).
Magnesium is required to promote enzyme activity in glucose metabolism. It is known for its potential to enhance insulin sensitivity and therefore, to prevent type 2 diabetes.
It is also important for carbohydrate metabolism, and may “influence the hormones that help control blood glucose levels”.
The study concluded that “promoting the intake of magnesium-rich foods may bring considerable benefits for the prevention of type 2 diabetes, especially in those at high risk”, adding thatmore prospective studies are required to better comprehend the relationship between magnesium and type 2 diabetes.
“Association between Toenail Magnesium and Type 2 Diabetes in Chinese Adults”
Authors: Jiguo Zhang, et al.