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Diabetes

Supplements

06/04/2008

Question:

I`m 65 with type two diabetic on insulin. Was in the hosptial and they did some tests and found out I was low on magnesium. Was having severe leg cramps also. Right now I`m taking six 400mg of magnesium a day. Once ia a while I still get the leg cramps. How much magnesium can I take with out having problems by taking to much and what problems can occure? Also how much potassium and calcium should I a diabetic have daily? Thank you

Answer:

The really key question here is why you had magnesium deficiency in the first place.  Most people, including most people with diabetes, on a balanced diet do not develop magnesium deficiency.  People with diabetes have a greater chance of developing it but it is still uncommon.  It could be missing from the nutrients you take in, you could have a problem absorbing it from the intestine when you do take it in, or you could be losing too much of it from the kidneys or intestine, if for example you have chronic diarrhea.  The answer to your magnesium dose question really depends on the reason you were deficient.  If you don't know the answer to that, then you need to see a doctor to have them figure out why and to explain what to do in the mean time and what the safe limits are for you.  Too much magnesium can be quite dangerous as it affects both heart muscle and skeletal muscle and can cause problems with heart electrical activity which you don't want to mess with.  There are no standard answers on calcium and potassium for people with diabetes.  Calcium and potassium requirements depend on nutritional intake, kidney function and presence/absence of diarrhea.  In addition, calcium requirements depend on bone health status and potassium requirements depend on use of diuretics ("water pills" which can make people lose sodium and either lose or hold on to potassium) and some other drugs that alter potassium handling. 

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Response by:

Robert M Cohen, MD Robert M Cohen, MD
Professor of Clinical Medicine
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati