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01.04.2023
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Supplements for Diabetes: how to choose

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Supplements for Diabetes

Diabetes is a severe chronic disease where the blood glucose level is too high. Diabetes can cause several long-term health complications.

Nata Gonchar

Holistic Nutritionist, founder
of the project WOW Bali

TOP-10 ingredients
for your health and
balanced meal plan
Nata Gonchar

Holistic Nutritionist, founder
of the project WOW Bali

As Hippocrates said, you are what you eat. The meaning of this phrase concerns every person, who takes care of his health. The food we eat has a big impact on our vital activity, state of health and quality of life.

Nowadays healthy diet is very popular and everyone knows that he should give up junk food. But not everyone knows what he must eat except for grain, vegetables and protein food.

It's essential to diversify your diet. Every bite of food should provide you with vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients that are necessary for good health.

So how can we have a proper nutrition plan?

We prepared a PDF-file to help you. It contains TOP-10 ingredients, which should be added to everyone's diet.

Those suffering from diabetes must control blood glucose levels, follow a healthy diet, and take dietary supplements.

It is important to remember that supplements cannot replace medication prescribed by your health practitioner. Also, whereas some supplements can be extremely beneficial for people with diabetes, others can lead to complications. Here we will discuss the types of supplementation available for each type of diabetes.

Vitamins and Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus

Supplementation for people affected by diabetes

Diabetes affects the body’s ability to produce or use insulin. Insulin is a natural hormone made by the pancreas at the time when we eat. The primary function of insulin is to transport glucose from the bloodstream into cells and use it for energy.

If the body cannot produce or use insulin, glucose stays in the bloodstream and doesn’t reach cells. The problem with insulin production leads to type 1 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body cannot use the produced insulin or there is not enough insulin being produced.

Supplementation for people affected by diabetes

When glucose levels are high, the excretion of vitamins from our bodies is accelerated. This means that vitamins are often depleted in diabetics. Another side-effect of diabetes is the development of oxidative stress, so the need for antioxidants is higher in those suffering from this disease.

Other causes of vitamin deficiency:

  • People with diabetes need to follow a particular diet that forbids certain foods that are a source of essential micronutrients.
  • Increased urination is a common sign of diabetes. Many essential minerals, such as potassium, get washed out of the body with urine.
  • Lipid metabolism disorders associated with diabetes mellitus can lead to weight gain which in turn can disrupt the absorption of vitamins.
Nata Gonchar

Holistic Nutritionist, founder
of the project WOW Bali

TOP-10 ingredients
for your health and
balanced meal plan
Nata Gonchar

Holistic Nutritionist, founder
of the project WOW Bali

As Hippocrates said, you are what you eat. The meaning of this phrase concerns every person, who takes care of his health. The food we eat has a big impact on our vital activity, state of health and quality of life.

Nowadays healthy diet is very popular and everyone knows that he should give up junk food. But not everyone knows what he must eat except for grain, vegetables and protein food.

It's essential to diversify your diet. Every bite of food should provide you with vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients that are necessary for good health.

So how can we have a proper nutrition plan?

We prepared a PDF-file to help you. It contains TOP-10 ingredients, which should be added to everyone's diet.

Properly selected supplements can help compensate for the lack of nutrients, strengthen the immune system, prevent complications, and improve well-being.

Supplements for type 1 and 2 diabetes

  • Vitamin A (retinol) is needed to prevent loss of vision which is one of the complications of diabetes

Vitamin A neutralizes the toxic forms of oxygen that are continuously produced during regular cellular activity. Vitamin A’s active ingredient, retinol, strengthens the immune system and increases the permeability of cell membranes.

  • Vitamin E (tocopherol) is an antioxidant that helps prevent the harmful effects of oxidative stress. It neutralizes free radicals and protects against complications

Benefits of tocopherol supplementation:

  • normalizes blood pressure
  • improves the condition of the skin and hair
  • increases blood flow to the retina
  • slows down aging
  • B vitamins are the essential vitamins that are involved in all metabolic processes and the functioning of many organs

Medication prescribed to lower glucose levels impairs the absorption of B vitamins. Therefore, it is advisable to take vitamin B supplementation.

The B vitamins are incredibly beneficial to overall health.

  • Thiamine (B1) normalizes the metabolism of carbs and activates blood circulation. It helps prevent retinal damage (retinopathy) and damage to the nerves located outside of the brain and spinal cord (neuropathy).
  • Riboflavin (B2) stimulates the production of hemoglobin, protects the eyes against pathologies, and normalizes digestion.
  • Niacin (B3) strengthens vascular walls, lowers cholesterol levels, and regulates microcirculation.
  • Pantothenic acid (B5) regulates adrenal function and helps to overcome stress.
  • Pyridoxine (B6) is necessary for people with diabetes to prevent nervous system disorders. It also improves the absorption of insulin and prevents the development of neuropathy.
  • Biotin (B7) acts similarly to insulin, increasing its effectiveness. It normalizes energy metabolism and stimulates the synthesis of fatty acids.
  • Folic acid (B9) stimulates protein metabolism and improves blood supply and tissue regeneration.
  • Cyanocobalamin (B12) is vital for all kinds of metabolic processes: it modulates oxidative stress, prevents cardiomyopathy, and reduces homocysteine levels.

Effect of Vitamin B12 Supplementation on Glycaemic Control in Uncontrolled Hyperhomocysteinemic Type 2 Diabetic Patients
Vitamins and Diabetes
Cyanocobalamin prevents cardiomyopathy in type 1 diabetes by modulating oxidative stress and DNMT-SOCS1/3-IGF-1 signaling

  • Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) reduces blood sugar levels, increases insulin synthesis and secretion, improves insulin resistance, and reduces the occurrence and development of complications of type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM)

Ascorbic acid supplementation in type 2 diabetes mellitus

  • Vitamin D (calciferol) prevents osteoporosis and skin diseases, strengthens bones and teeth, and normalizes heart muscle function

Research shows that vitamin D supplementation in the form of alfacalcidol and cholecalciferol is beneficial in the treatment of type 1 diabetes.

The Effects of Vitamin D Supplementation in Newly Diagnosed Type 1 Diabetes Patients: Systematic Review of Randomized Controlled Trials

  • Selenium is a powerful antioxidant that protects tissues from oxidative stress. It prevents cataracts and normalizes the pancreas’ function.
  • Iron is necessary to normalize carbohydrate and lipid metabolism and strengthen immunity.
  • Chromium, involved in carbohydrate metabolism, improves insulin absorption and increases its activity.
  • Zinc reduces cholesterol levels and activates insulin synthesis. Zinc also speeds up tissue regeneration and strengthens immunity.
  • Magnesium is an essential mineral for those affected by diabetes because it helps to improve diabetes control and regulates the conduction of nerve impulses.

Clinical studies have determined that magnesium supplements enhance insulin sensitivity and decrease insulin resistance.

Magnesium supplementation enhances insulin sensitivity and decreases insulin resistance in diabetic rats
Beneficial effects of adding magnesium to desalinated drinking water on metabolic and insulin resistance parameters among patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus: a randomized controlled clinical trial

Note: If you suffer from severe kidney failure or are currently on dialysis, always consult your doctor before taking magnesium supplements.

Vitamins for eye health in diabetes

Diabetes is one of the main risk factors that leads to restricted blood flow to the eyes and affects vision (hypertension and atherosclerosis are the other two factors).

Retinal damage occurs relatively frequently in diabetes because high sugar levels damage the back of the eye. This is known as diabetic retinopathy. It is crucial for people suffering from diabetes to inhibit diabetic retinopathy by taking the correct supplementation. The best supplements to prevent diabetic retinopathy are:

  • Vitamin A
  • Omega-3
  • Zinc
  • Magnesium
  • Lipoic acid
  • Vitamin D3

Nutritional supplementation for gestational diabetes mellitus

Gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) is a type of diabetes that can develop during pregnancy. Every year, between 2-10% of pregnancies in the United States are affected by gestational diabetes.

Gestational Diabetes

This risk is significantly increased in cases of elevated BMI >25 kg/m. The risk of GDM in third-degree obese expectant mothers (BMI ≥40 kg/m) is 8.5 times higher than in normal-weight expectant mothers.

During pregnancy, the production of sex hormones (estrogen, progesterone, and hCG) and cortisol increases dramatically, which suppresses insulin action. As a result, blood glucose levels increase. High blood sugar during pregnancy also affects the health of the fetus.

GDM poses the following risks to the baby:

  • poor fetal growth
  • fetal macrosomia (birth weight >4000 g)
  • predisposition to obesity
  • impaired glucose tolerance and development of type II diabetes
  • metabolic disorders

According to WHO, the recommended daily intake of vitamins and minerals during pregnancy and breastfeeding should be as follows:

  • Vitamin A — 800 mg
  • Thiamine (vitamin B1) — 1.4 mg
  • Riboflavin (vitamin B2) — 1.4 mg
  • Niacin (vitamin B3) — 18 mg
  • Vitamin B6 — 1.9 mg
  • Vitamin B12 — 2.6 mg
  • Vitamin C – 55 mg
  • Vitamin D – 5 mg
  • Vitamin E – 15 mg
  • Folic acid – 600 mg
  • Iron – 27 mg
  • Zinc – 10 mg
  • Copper – 1.15 mg
  • Selenium – 30 mg
  • Iodine – 250 mg
  • Calcium – 1.5-2 g

Note that a well-balanced diet during pregnancy will provide all essential nutrients except folic acid and iodine which have to be taken in the form of supplements.

Note that additional supplementation might also be needed. Always consult your healthcare professional who will be able to make an individual assessment to determine the correct dietary supplementation.

Childhood diabetes

The incidence of type 2 diabetes among children in the United States has now risen to around 5,000 new cases a year.

Risk factors for developing type 2 diabetes in childhood include:

  • being overweight (BMI in the 85th – 95th percentile)
  • high birth weight (> 8.13 pounds)
  • being born to a mother with gestational diabetes
  • race: African American, Hispanic/Latino, Native American/Alaska Native, Asian American, or Pacific Islander
  • having a family member with type 2 diabetes
  • sedentary lifestyle

The symptoms of type 2 diabetes in children are the same as in adults.

Encouraging children to have a well-balanced diet and be physically active on daily basis will help to prevent the development of diabetes and help those who have it to stay healthy. Vitamins can be obtained from food and age-appropriate supplementation.

Vitamin-rich foods for people living with diabetes

The best way to get the recommended daily amounts of vitamins is through diet. the following foods are specifically recommended for people suffering from diabetes.

Vitamin A

liver, egg yolk, cod liver oil, carrots, dill, parsley, sorrel

Vitamin A

Vitamin B1

pulses, buckwheat, rice, oatmeal, prunes, wholemeal flour

Vitamin B2

Milk and dairy products, yeast, buckwheat, liver, bread

Vitamin B3 or PP

Meat, liver, yeast, wheat flour, buckwheat, pulses, mushrooms, peanuts, coffee

Vitamin B5

Liver, egg yolk, meat, legumes, cauliflower

Vitamin B6

All types of cereals, fish, meat, egg yolk, offal, yeast, nuts, sunflower seeds, pulses, bananas

Vitamin B12

Meat, offal, fish

Vitamin E

Vegetable oils (especially sea buckthorn), nuts, lettuce, spinach, liver, egg yolk, milk

Vitamin H

Yeast, legumes, nuts, cauliflower, egg yolk

Vitamin K group

Spinach, cabbage, carrots, tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, soya beans

P vitamins

Tea, buckwheat, rosehip, blackcurrants, black chokeberries, grapes, plums

Vitamin U

Cabbage, beetroot, parsley, celery

Carnitine

Meat products

Carnitine

Folic acid

Cabbage, lettuce, other leafy vegetables, liver, yeast, cereals, pulses, coarse meal

Choline

Egg yolk, liver, kidneys, curd, cheese, vegetable oils, legumes, cabbage, spinach

Vitamin overdose

It is important to remember that exceeding the recommended vitamin dosage can be dangerous and, in some cases, can lead to an overdose.

Whereas overdosing on water-soluble vitamins A and B is unlikely because their excess is excreted from our bodies with urine, the fat-soluble vitamins, such as vitamins A, D, E, and K are stored in our bodies, and excessive intake of these vitamins can lead to health problems.

Here we describe the symptoms associated with vitamin overdose:

Vitamin D overdose manifests in nausea, vomiting, itchy skin, head and eye pain, diarrhea, increased urination, and deposition of excess calcium in the soft tissues, liver, kidneys, lungs, heart, and blood vessels.

Vitamin E overdose may cause gastrointestinal issues, fatigue, drowsiness, headaches, muscle weakness, and diplopia.

Vitamin A overdose may cause nausea, impaired vision, fatigue, irritability, lack of appetite, vomiting, headache, hair loss, and itching.

Excess of vitamin A can harm your unborn baby. Pregnant women aged 19 and over should not exceed the maximum of 770 mcg of retinol activity equivalents (RAE) per day.

An overdose of vitamin K, which regulates the blood-clotting process, can lead to hemolysis (breakdown of red blood cells), anemia, and bleeding.

The final verdict

Vitamins are very beneficial for those suffering from diabetes. Properly selected vitamins will help to strengthen the body, compensate for all deficiencies, and slow the development of complications.

Remember that as a rule, vitamins are prescribed in monthly courses.

Always consult a health specialist before taking any new dietary supplements.

The material is based on research: