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Vitamins and diabetes

Prioritizing your nutrition is important when managing your diabetes. Having a well-rounded, healthy meal plan can help with blood sugar management, staying at a healthy weight, and overall health. While vitamin supplements can provide your diet with an added boost, living with diabetes means taking a careful approach in how you consume vitamins and minerals.

Supplements and blood sugar

Conventional wisdom would suggest that vitamin supplements are generally good for you. It’s important to consider, however, the impact that certain supplements can have on your blood sugar levels.1 The ingredients in some vitamins may have an adverse interaction with your diabetes medication, which may lead to hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).

Significant other problems can also arise from taking vitamins, especially if you have diabetes-related complications. Consult with your doctor before taking any of the following supplements:

  • Niacin: Taking a niacin supplement may heighten your fasting glucose levels.1
  • St. John’s Wart: Studies have shown that St. John’s Wart can intensify the effect of blood thinners and other medications.1
  • Chromium: If you have been told that you have kidney disease, a chromium supplement may worsen your condition.1
  • Vitamin E: Vitamin E acts similarly to medication-based blood thinners, therefore supplementation should only be recommended and monitored by your doctor.1

Tackling vitamin deficiency

family preparing meal

If you are living with a true vitamin deficiency, you may benefit from taking supplements or a multivitamin. Blood work can show your vitamin levels, so consult with your doctor if you think you may have a deficiency.

The best way to consume vitamins is through food. A healthy meal of whole foods containing a mix of nutrients will better allow your body to absorb vitamins.

Vitamins with a positive impact

Several vitamins have been shown to improve blood sugar levels and may reduce risks of certain diabetes-related complications.2 Some examples include:

  • Vitamin C: Sorbitol, which is a type of carbohydrate, may be lowered by consuming higher levels of vitamin C.2
  • Vitamin D: Evidence suggests that exposure to vitamin D may improve insulin sensitivity. Vitamin D is produced naturally in your body when your skin is exposed to sunlight.2
  • Magnesium: Low magnesium levels are common in people living with diabetes. A magnesium deficiency can negatively impact blood sugar levels, particularly in those with type 2 diabetes.2
  • Biotin: Supplements of biotin can have a sizable impact on blood sugar levels, as it works closely with the insulin in your body.2
  • Vitamin B6: High blood sugar levels over time may damage your nervous system, leading to neuropathy (nerve damage). This complication can also be associated with low levels of vitamin B6.2

Before beginning any vitamin regimen, it’s important to check with your doctor. Some vitamin supplements may be right for you, while others may be best avoided. If you’re looking for a good way to take charge of your health, maintaining a healthy, balanced meal plan and getting regular exercise are still your best bets.

1. Vitamins & Diabetes. The American Diabetes Association Page. https://www.diabetes.org/healthy-living/recipes-nutrition/vitamins-diabetes. Accessed 10SEP2021
2. Vitamins and Minerals. The Global Diabetes Community Page. https://www.diabetes.co.uk/vitamins-supplements.html. Accessed 10SEP2021

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