Diabetes is a condition where the pancreas either does not produce insulin, or the body does not use insulin efficiently. Vitamin D deficiency impairs both insulin synthesis and insulin secretion. Research at Massey University shows that Vitamin D increases insulin sensitivity in humans. Further epidemiological studies suggest a link between vitamin D deficiency in early life and the later onset of type 1 diabetes. Some studies have also indicated that Vitamin D may be important in the prevention of cardiovascular complications of diabetes.
The human body produces Vitamin D from sunlight. The darker the skin, the harder it becomes for the body to produce enough vitamin D. Skin pigment is a natural sunscreen, and while it protects the skin, it also reduces the body’s ability to produce Vitamin D. A 2004 study conducted in the University of Auckland show that non-Hispanic blacks in the United States have significantly lower levels of vitamin D than whites and Hispanics, and tries to establish a link between high Vitamin D levels and low diabetes risk.
Another research at Tufts-New England Medical Center conclude that combined vitamin D and calcium supplementation may have a role in the prevention of type-2 diabetes, in populations at high risk
Research on this issue is however limited. The American Diabetes Association (ADA), in a diabetes research summary, states that “more studies need to be conducted to say for certain that taking more Calcium and Vitamin D is a good way to prevent diabetes and its complications.”
The Institute of Medicine recommends a daily intake of 200 international units (IU) of Vitamin D for children and adults until the age of 50, 400 IU for people between 50 and 70, and 600 IU daily for people above 70. Those who do not obtain this quantity from their food sources should consult their physician about vitamin D supplements.
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Vitamin E may contribute to controlling type 2 diabetes. In diabetes, the body is unable to absorb glucose from the blood. This increased blood levels of blood-glucose cause production of free radicals that oxidize the low-density lipoprotein (LDL) form of blood cholesterol, eventually leading to heart attacks.
Studies at University of Texas and others report that Vitamin E neutralize such free radicals and dramatically reduce the risk of diabetes related coronary heart disease. The recommended normal daily intake of of Vitamin E is 400 IU.
Other Vitamins and Minerals
Vitamin B supplements lower blood levels of homocysteine and aid in the breakdown of carbohydrates into glucose, and breakdown of fats and proteins, helping in the normal functioning of the nervous system. Biotin, one of the B vitamins increase the process of glucose utilization by the body.
Manganese help maintains the blood glucose at normal level, and also aid fat and protein metabolism. The absorption of Vitamin C, B and E also depends upon the sufficient amount of manganese.
Some studies indicate that comium picolinate reduce insulin resistance and increase absorption of glucose by the body, preventing diabetes. The FDA however concludes that the existence of the relationship between chromium picolinate and either insulin resistance or type-2 diabetes is not yet proven.
Vanadium, magnesium, zinc, and Vitamin C all theoretically increase insulin sensitivity and aid in the metabolism of glucose. Research on the ability of ability of these vitamins and minerals to prevent diabetes is however ongoing.
Although preliminary research and trends indicates the possible effectiveness of vitamin supplements that prevent diabetes, research is still ongoing. Whether vitamin supplements are an effective prevention or cure for diabetes is still not conclusive. The ADA states that “there is no clear evidence of benefit from vitamin or mineral supplementation in people with diabetes (compared with the general population) who do not have underlying deficiencies.”
People with diabetes require a balanced diet, and should strive to acquire their daily vitamin and mineral requirements from natural food sources rather than supplements in the first place. Most medical practitioners prescribe multivitamin supplements only for select groups such as the elderly, pregnant or lactating women, strict vegetarians, or those on calorie-restricted diets.
If you are diabetic, do not start any supplement regimen without consulting your physician.
This article is not intended to treat, and does not constitute medical advice. Check with a physician before embarking on or refraining from a supplement program, as there may be pre-existing medical conditions that prevent you from taking certain supplements, or that might warrant you take supplements.
- Andrew Curry. Vitamin D and Diabetes. American Diabetes Association. https://forecast.diabetes.org/magazine/your-ada/vitamin-d-and-diabetes
- American Diabetes Association. Nutrition Recommendations and Interventions for Diabetes. https://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/31/Supplement_1/S61.full
- Diabetesmellitus-information.com. Vitamins and Minerals that lower blood sugar levels. https://www.diabetesmellitus-information.com/diabetes_vitamins.htm
- Massey University. NZ study highlights Vitamin D-diabetes link. https://www.massey.ac.nz/massey/about-massey/news/article.cfm?mnarticle=nz-study-highlights-vitamin-d-diabetes-link-01-12-2009
- Larsen, Hans, R. Vitamin E: Your Heart’s Best Friend. https://www.yourhealthbase.com/vitamin_E.htm
- National Institute of Health. Office of Dietary Supplements. Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet: Vitamin D. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/vitamind.asp
- Anastassois, G. Pittas, Joseph lau, Frank Hu, & Bess Dawson-Huges. The Role of Vitamin D and Calcium in type 2 diabetes. A systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2085234/