Can Vitamins Help Control Diabetes?
Over 37 million Americans have diabetes, a chronic condition that can have far-reaching implications if not well controlled. Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the US, so ensuring the body produces and effectively uses insulin to regulate blood sugar is critical. While a healthy diet, exercise, and proper monitoring are all key aspects, some individuals wonder if certain vitamins can improve health outcomes or prevent the disease from developing.
A word on dietary choices
People looking for a quick fox with a supplement should note that dietary choices throughout the day will be more impactful on a diabetic’s overall health. A supplement, even made from the most potent nutrients, can’t counteract daily intakes high in sugary and fatty foods that cause dangerous blood sugar spikes. Committing to a diet low in sugar, as well as taking strides to understand how to keep diabetes well-managed, is the cornerstone to staying healthy and preventing adverse outcomes.
The type of diabetes matters
Many people forget that 2 types of diabetes exist. Type 1 diabetes is usually linked with an autoimmune reaction and often first appears in childhood. Type 2 diabetes develops gradually after years of an unhealthy diet, a sedentary lifestyle, and other risk factors. Although vitamins can help manage diabetes, not all options are a good fit depending on the diagnosis.
The B vitamin link
Of all the B complex vitamins, B12 is a popular option that offers a wide range of benefits. However, the vitamin is only effective for people with type 2 diabetes who also have that vitamin deficiency. In particular, people with low B12 levels who are also taking metformin may benefit most by supplementing. However, individuals that opt to use a B12 supplement should be prepared to undergo additional monitoring.
Understanding the science
While much research has uncovered a link between diabetes and vitamin deficiencies, less is known about the efficacy of supplementation as a solution. In short, evidence is inconclusive or too limited to definitively say that taking a B complex vitamin is beneficial for diabetics. Additionally, evidence also tends to suggest that the body doesn’t absorb nutrients as easily from supplements as from foods. For this reason, people are always encouraged to focus on a healthy diet rather than rely on supplements to improve health.
Get educated on diabetic risks
The best way to avoid receiving a diabetes diagnosis is to focus on a healthy lifestyle that limits sugar consumption, prioritizes staying active, and maintains a healthy weight. Supplements can be an alluring solution for shoring up nutritional deficiencies, but the somewhat unregulated nature of the vitamin market also poses risks. Individuals concerned about nutritional imbalances associated with diabetes should speak with a registered dietician (RD) or physician for further guidance.