Over 3.2 million people in the UK have diabetes and this condition is on the rise. According to Diabetes UK, 3 in 5 cases of type 2 diabetes can be prevented. *
Diabetes is a condition in which the amount of glucose (sugar) in the blood is too high because the body cannot use it properly. For people with diabetes, the hormone insulin which regulates blood sugar is not produced in sufficient quantities or not used effectively by the body. This then creates high blood glucose levels. There are two types of diabetes:
- Usually occurs when the body is unable to produce insulin.
- Usually develops before the age of 40
- Usually occurs when the body can still make some insulin, but not enough
- About 90% of people with diabetes have type 2 diabetes.*
In addition to a healthy diet and exercise, depending on the type of treatment used to control diabetes, some vitamins and minerals can be beneficial.
B-vitamins play a critical role in how your body breaks down and uses carbohydrates, fats, and proteins for energy. Several B vitamins are commonly used in type 2 diabetes, including thiamine (B1), pyridoxine (B6), biotin, folic acid (B9), and cobalamin (B12). B1 is commonly used for neuropathy associated with diabetes because many people with neuropathy have a deficiency in this vitamin (1). Although it is typically used for neuropathy, Vitamin B1 has also been found to decrease glucose levels in patients with diabetes. In addition to this, Folic acid has been shown to help improve glycemic control and insulin resistance (2).
Vitamin D is an essential fat-soluble organic molecule that is primarily required for maintaining bone health and immunity. Recently, it has come in the limelight that vitamin D deficiency is associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes.
Clinical trials of calcium and vitamin D supplementation found that vitamin D may decrease the risk of type 2 diabetes (3). Vitamin D plays a critical role in regulating the body’s use of calcium. Calcium plays a small but critical role in the secretion of insulin. If too little vitamin D impairs the body’s ability to manage calcium levels, it inevitably impairs the body’s ability to produce insulin.
The majority of the studies showing positive by vitamin D supplementation have claimed that the vitamin helps maintain a normal glycemic status by reducing insulin resistance, the main cause for diabetes (4).
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(1) Shane-McWhorter L. Dietary supplements for diabetes are decidedly popular: Help your patients decide. Diabetes Spectr. 2013;26(4):259-266.
(2) Valdés-Ramos R, Laura GLA, Elina MCB, Donaji BAA. Vitamins and type 2 diabetes mellitus. Endocr Metab Disord Drug Targets. 2015;15:54-63.
(3) Valdés-Ramos R, Laura GLA, Elina MCB, Donaji BAA. Vitamins and type 2 diabetes mellitus. Endocr Metab Disord Drug Targets. 2015;15:54-63.
(4) Davi G, Santilli F, Patrono C. Nutraceuticals in diabetes and metabolic syndrome. Cardiovasc Ther. 2010;28:216-226.
*Claims for food supplements mentioned in this article are not meant for general public, but are purely for information of food supplement industry professionals. Please note that the claims are not authorised by European Food Safety Authority for use on labels or marketing materials.