People who live with diabetes have special dietary requirements, but what is often overlooked is the need to supplement one’s diet with vitamins and minerals.
Unfortunately, there is very little evidence if certain vitamins and minerals affect one’s diabetes, if at all.
Regardless, there are certain nutrients that people with diabetes need to pay special attention to, making sure that they are getting them regularly. This article will outline what vitamins are recommended for people with diabetes and ways to make sure you’re getting them regularly.
Why do people with diabetes need certain vitamins?
It’s not that people with diabetes don’t absorb vitamins well, or have issues with digestion (unless you suffer from gastroparesis, which is common in people with diabetes). Vitamins simply help people supplement their diets, especially if they struggle to eat enough fruits and vegetables, and vitamins are crucial to living a healthy life if you have a chronic condition, such as diabetes.
It’s important to always talk to your doctor, who may order blood work, to see if you have any vitamin deficiencies. Working together with your care team, you can choose the best supplementation for you and your lifestyle.
What are the best vitamins for people with diabetes?
Those with type 1 or type 2 diabetes are more likely to have lower blood levels of thiamin and usually suffer a higher risk of thiamin deficiency than people who don’t have diabetes. This vitamin is helpful in relieving the pain of neuropathy.
Major sources of thiamin include beef, pork, nuts, whole grains, legumes, cauliflower, oranges, eggs, potatoes, asparagus, and kale.
Vitamin B12 is vital for the health of red blood cells and brain function. People with diabetes who suffer from nerve damage in their hands and feet may see their symptoms worsen if they have a vitamin B12 deficiency. Studies have shown that long-term use of the diabetes drug Metformin can lead to a vitamin B12 deficiency.
Common sources of this vitamin include fish, milk, eggs, and meat products. Vitamin B12 can also be taken orally, for vegetarians and vegans.
Vitamin D deficiencies are linked to the development of diabetes, and a study from Denmark showed that chronic low levels of Vitamin D in people with diabetes can lead to increased risk of complications and death.
Many people with diabetes also have low levels of Vitamin D, so make sure to supplement your diet with plenty of egg yolks, liver, fish, and dairy products with the nutrient added.
Regular sun exposure (for between 10-30 minutes a day) can also help you achieve higher Vitamin D levels.
Magnesium maintains a healthy immune system, strengthens bones, regulates heart rate, and helps the body digest and use nutrients from the foods we eat every day.
This essential nutrient is frequently low in people with type 2 diabetes. Low magnesium levels have been linked with insulin resistance, while a study published in Diabetes Care found that taking the vitamin regularly might lower one’s risk for developing type 2 diabetes altogether.
Magnesium is often taken in supplement form along with calcium and zinc or is found in foods such as legumes, rice, beans, nuts, green leafy vegetables, and wheat products.
Vitamin E fights external toxins, improves insulin efficacy, and oxygenates the blood. Taking a Vitamin E supplement can help prevent premature aging and cell damage, decreasing the likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes, and it helps to maintain good blood sugars in people with existing diabetes.
Excellent sources of Vitamin E include almonds, sunflower seeds, nut butter, hazelnuts, avocado, and fresh salmon.
Many people with diabetes suffer from low Vitamin C levels. Increasing one’s intake of Vitamin C helps control the levels of sorbitol in the blood, which can be harmful at high levels and may contribute to retinopathy and kidney damage, which are common complications of diabetes.
Vitamin C can also increase insulin sensitivity and help people lower their blood sugars and improve their Hba1c levels.
Vitamin C is found in many fruits and vegetables such as kiwi, bell peppers, tomatoes, guava, tomatillo, sweet potatoes, strawberries, and spinach and is also readily available in supplement form.
Always work with your care team to assess which vitamins and minerals you should incorporate into your diet.
Your doctor will most likely order a blood test to determine what’s needed, but supplementing your diet with more vitamins and minerals can be helpful to achieve better blood sugars, lower Hba1c levels, and prevent both short and long-term complications.
Any multivitamins you’d recommend to cover what you’ve listed above?
Christel Oerum says
I would check with your doctor before starting any supplements, but generally, most multivitamins are safe for the majority of people
Cindy Coates says
I’m probably too late for this thread, but no one has mentioned Berberine or Milk Thistle- brought my fatty liver back to normal and my A1C from 11 to 6.5 in three months- it can be taken with Metformin w/o side effects (I also take a B complex and Magnesium) good luck all!
My grandma aged 90 has type 2 diabetes and of late she’s been complaining of numbness in her feet.Any recommendation?
Christel Oerum says
That sounds like Diabetic Neuropathy, you can read more here: https://diabetesstrong.com/diabetic-neuropathy/
I’d recommend she sees a doctor for a proper diagnosis but the article does include a few treatment options for the pain
I have diabetes type 2.biggest problem feeling tired.do you have any ideas with good natural herbs replacing modern medication.thanks
Christel Oerum says
If you’re feeling constantly tired your blood sugars might be running higher than they should. This could mean that you need to increase your medication or change your exercise and nutrition habits. No herbal treatment has clinically shown to significantly lower blood sugars or cure diabetes.
As pre-diabetic is a big problem i cannot imagine to be diabetic, since I do not eat normal I am facing fatigue( suddenly i feel tired) and my blood sugar is little bit high. Since Iam not eating enough fatigue is normal…… Please avoid any sugar, bread, rice this condition is not easy. Everything arise blood sugar: medicines, vitamins, starchy vegetables, (yes) I feel depressed since I got this condition. Is not easy to handle. The whole time I feel starving.
Christel Oerum says
If you can I’d suggest you discuss this with your doctor. You could be referred to a nutritionist that can help you find a diet that works for you or maybe you need to start blood sugar lowering medication. What you are describing is not a sustainable way of living