With so many vitamins and supplements on the market, how can you know which ones will be most beneficial to diabetics? While it is always wise to consult with your doctor or nutritionist, it is also a good idea to read labels carefully and to research health claims of various products.
Some vitamins and supplements that may help diabetics are noted here, along with the benefits that they are believed to provide.
Multivitamins are widely accepted as a safe source of essential vitamins and minerals that the body needs to function optimally. While a well-rounded diet should preclude the need for multivitamins, in reality many people do not receive all of the nutrients they need from food alone.
Fiber supplements may be an excellent way to control blood sugar levels. A study published by the New England Journal of Medicine (May 2000) shows that type 2 diabetics who eat more fiber than the recommended daily allowance (24 grams) can significant lower their blood sugar levels.
Chromium has been shown to improve glucose tolerance in both type 1 and 2 diabetics (Andersen, 1998). Chromium increases insulin binding and insulin reception, and did not exhibit any documented side effects in Andersen’s study.
Antioxidants may provide significant benefits to diabetic patients. Antioxidant vitamins, such as vitamin A (beta carotene), C, and E fight free radicals. (Free radicals are unstable molecules that cause damage by stealing electrons from a healthy cell’s molecules.) Recent studies have shown that antioxidants help prevent neuropathy and retinopathy. Alpha lipoic acid is an antioxidant that aids in glucose uptake. It helps vitamins A and C work better, detoxifies the body, and guards against degeneration in the eye. Selenium, another antioxidant, has been suggested as beneficial to diabetics. However, according to a Cornell University study, selenium may actually cause insulin resistance. Xingen Lei, one of the authors of the study, cautions that too many antioxidants may be harmful.
Corsolic acid is believed to increase glucose uptake, as reported by DiabetesHealth.com. One study demonstrated that banaba leaf extract (a common source of corsolic acid) lowered glucose in type 2 diabetics.
Gamma-linolenic acid, an omega-6 essential fatty acid, is naturally found in evening primrose oil and borage oil. It is sometimes used as an anti-inflammatory supplement, and has been shown to improve nerve damage in diabetics.
Folic acid and other B vitamins may help vascular disease in diabetics. They are purported to help lower the levels of homocysteine in the blood, a substance that can cause heart disease and vascular problems. Since diabetics have trouble metabolizing homocysteine, folic acid may be a useful supplement.
These are only a few of the vitamins and supplements that may help control diabetes. Talk with your doctor about whether these, or other nutritional products, may be beneficial to you.
-  Chandalia, Manisha, Garg, Abhimanyu, Lutjohann, Dieter, von Bergmann, Klaus, Grundy, Scott M., Brinkley, Linda J.
- Beneficial Effects of High Dietary Fiber Intake in Patients with Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus
N Engl J Med 2000 342: 1392-1398
-  Anderson, Richard A.
- Chromium, Glucose Intolerance and Diabetes
J Am Coll Nutr 1998 17: 548-555
-  Henriksen EJ (2006)
- Exercise training and the antioxidant alpha-lipoic acid in the treatment of insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes Free Radic Biol Med 40 (1): 3-12. PMID.
-  James P. McClung, Carol A. Roneker, Weipeng Mu, Donald J. Lisk, Paul Langlais, Feng Liu, and Xin Gen Lei
- Development of insulin resistance and obesity in mice overexpressing cellular glutathione peroxidase
PNAS 101: 8852-8857; published online before print as 10.1073/pnas.0308096101
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