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10 Essential Vitamins And Minerals In Diabetes Management

There are pretty solid evidences showed that vitamins and minerals are all important for healthy blood sugar regulation. If you’re worried about your blood sugar, it might be worthwhile to make sure you’re getting enough of these nutrients in your diet.

Importance of Vitamins and Minerals

Vitamins and minerals that our bodies require in small quantities for specific functions. They most commonly function as essential coenzymes and cofactors for metabolic reactions and thus help support basic cellular reactions (i.e., glycolysis, the citric acid cycle, lipid and amino acid metabolism) required to maintain energy production and life. Even moderate deficiencies can lead to serious disease states. Micronutrients have been investigated as potential preventive and treatment agents for both type 1 and type 2 diabetes and for common complications of diabetes.

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Research shows that many people who have diabetes can benefit from taking certain vitamin and mineral supplements, especially older adults as well as those who don’t eat a balanced diet including vegetables, fish, and meat or have abnormal blood glucose or weight. Here are some important ones to consider.

This article reviews key vitamins and minerals that may play a role in blood sugar control and summarizes current recommendations for supplementation. including chromium, magnesium, vanadium, biotin, vitamins C, D, E and B12, and the scientific evidence supporting (or not supporting) their use either in supplemental doses or as part of a healthful diet and lifestyle pattern.

1. Chromium

Chromium is a crucial nutrient in the body's fight against diabetes. By using either brewer’s yeast stocked with chromium, or chromium chloride, diabetic patients may be able to improve glucose tolerance, lower their fasting glucose levels, decrease insulin levels and cut cholesterol and triglyceride levels, whilst increasing HDL-cholesterol levels.

Several principal double-blind studies have shown that supplemental chromium may raise glucose tolerance in patients with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

Exercise also increases the concentration of tissue chromium. Chromium may have a role to play in pre-diabetics and women suffering from gestational diabetes.

Chromium Adequate Intake:

For ages 9 years and above ranges from 21 to 25 micrograms (mcg) per day for females and 25 to 35 mcg per day for men.

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2. Zinc

Zinc is another important mineral for blood sugar control. It’s an antioxidant and it’s also important for insulin management. Patients with diabetes have lower levels of zinc in their blood, and zinc supplementation helps to improve their HbA1c (a measure of long-term blood sugar control). A recent study and this one also found that zinc levels were significantly lower in patients with Type 2 Diabetes.

Several studies also found that zinc improved blood sugar control in obese children without diabetes. So again, it looks like there may be benefits for people who don’t technically have diabetes as well as people who do.

Zinc Adequate Intake:

Recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for zinc in the United States is 8 milligrams (mg) a day for women and 11 mg a day for men.

3. Calcium

Calcium is important for strong teeth and bones. It’s also needed for your heart, muscles and nerves to function properly.

Calcium supplements can help prevent deficiencies that can lead to bone loss and the brittle bone disease osteo- porosis — especially when taken regularly and combined with vitamin D. Calcium and vitamin D, taken in combination with prescribed medications, can also be used to help treat osteoporosis or low bone mineral density (osteopenia).

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Calcium Adequate Intake:

Men need 1,000 mg per day until age 70, and 1,200 mg after that. Women ages 51 or older need 1,200 mg of calcium per day.

4. Magnesium

Magnesium helps to maintain normal nerve and muscle function, supports a healthy immune system, keeps the heart beat steady, and helps bones remain strong. It also helps regulate blood pressure, blood glucose levels and aid in the production of energy and protein.

It is an essential mineral in the regulation of blood sugar, playing a part in the secretion and function of insulin by opening cell membranes for glucose.

When blood glucose levels are high, magnesium gets excreted by the body in the urine. A deficiency can cause insulin resistance. So supplementing a deficiency of magnesium can help to improve insulin’s effectiveness to maintain their blood sugar within normal levels.

Magnesium Adequate Intake:

420 mg per day for men 31 or older, and 320 mg per day for women 31 or older.

5. ALA and GLA

ALA (alpha-lipoic acid) is a versatile and potent antioxidant, and may function to help diabetic neuropathy and reduce pain from free-radical damage.

Also, some studies link ALA to decreased insulin resistance and thus the control of blood sugar.

GLA (gamma-lipoic acid) is another naturally occurring antioxidant that is present in evening primrose oil, borage oil and blackcurrant seed oil. GLA may improve the function of nerves damaged by diabetic neuropathy.

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6. Vitamin E

This essential fat-soluble vitamin functions primarily as an antioxidant. Free radical damage is believed to play a role in many diseases, such as CVD and cancer, as well as in normal cellular aging. Antioxidants have been proposed as preventive and treatment agents for these conditions.

Low levels of vitamin E are associated with increased incidence of diabetes and some research suggests that people with diabetes have decreased levels of antioxidants. People with diabetes may also have greater antioxidant requirements because of increased free radical production with hyperglycemia. Increased levels of oxidative stress markers have been documented in people with diabetes. Improvement in glycemic control decreases markers of oxidative stress as does vitamin E supplementation.

Some studies have documented improvements in glycemic control and insulin resistance with vitamin E supplementation.

Vitamin E Adequate Intake:

For adults is 15 milligrams a day.

7. Vitamin D

Calcium is a building block for strong bones, but calcium needs the presence of vitamin D in order to do its job. One of the physical complications faced by people with diabetes is loss of bone density, and a deficiency of vitamin D puts them at greater risk of fractures and osteoporosis.

A shortage of vitamin D also hinders blood sugar levels, making it more difficult to control diabetes. Vitamin D deficiency can result in muscle weakness, increased incidence of infection, increased risk of falling, defects in the skeletal mineralization process, bone discomfort, and aches and pains in the joints and muscles.

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The major source of vitamin D for most people is exposure to sunlight, leading to a considerable seasonal variation in hormonally active vitamin D in the bloodstream. Only a few foods naturally contain significant amounts of vitamin D. Those that do include fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, and herring and fish oils such as cod liver oil. Farm-raised fish tend to have only 100 to 250 IU of vitamin D per 100-gram serving, versus 500 to 1,000 IU for the same-size serving of wild-caught fish. Certain foods are fortified with vitamin D, including milk, some juice products, some breads, yogurts, and cheeses.

Vitamin D Adequate Intake:

400 international units (IU) for children up to age 12 months, 600 IU for ages 1 to 70 years, and 800 IU for people over 70 years.

8. Vitamin B7 (Biotin)

Biotin works in synergy with insulin in the body, and independently increases the activity of the enzyme glucokinase.

Glucokinase is responsible for the first step of glucose utilisation, and is therefore an essential component of normal bodily functioning.

Glucokinase occurs only in the liver, and in sufferers from diabetes its concentration may be extremely low. Supplements of biotin may have a significant effect on glucose levels for both type 1 and type 2 diabetics.

Vitamin B7 Adequate Intake:

10 to 20 micrograms (mcg) for children up to age of 3 years, 25 mcg for ages 4 to 6 years and 30 mcg for ages 7 to 10 years.

Depending on the type of treatment regimen you use to control your diabetes, there are some vitamins and minerals that may be beneficial for your condition. Before adding any vitamins or adding dietary supplements to your daily diet, discuss these changes with your healthcare team and doctor to ensure they are safe alongside any prescribed medication you're on.


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