Most mainstream physicians in the U.S. have totally ignored these vitamins for diabetes. Alternative medicine on the other hand, has made exuberant claims about their efficacy. I review the published data about these vitamins on diabetes. I have taken a “middle of the road” approach, based on my research.
What Vitamins and Herbs may lower blood sugar?
By themselves, vitamins and herbs may not provide adequate control of diabetes, but they are certainly helpful as an adjunctive therapy. According to published data, the following vitamins for diabetes appear to reduce insulin resistance-the root cause of type 2 diabetes. In this way, these vitamins and herbs may help lower blood sugar level. Scientific data support their use as vitamins for diabetes:
- Alpha Lipoic Acid
- Chromium picolinate
- Coenzyme Q 10 (Co Q10)
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin B12
- Stress Buster
1.Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA) may help lower blood sugar Level
Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA) is normally produced in small quantities in the cells and helps in the normal function and integrity of the cells.
Alpha Lipoic Acid helps to decrease insulin resistance – the underlying mechanism of Type 2 diabetes.
In large doses, Alpha lipoic acid functions as a strong antioxidant. It helps to fight off the oxidative stress by clearing the oxygen free radicals inside the cell. Free Oxygen radicals are produced inside the cells constantly as a byproduct of the energy production. These free Oxygen radicals can damage the cell. That is where antioxidants play an important role to neutralize these free Oxygen radicals.
Cells of diabetic patients are under a tremendous amount of oxidative stress. That’s why it makes perfect sense to use Alpha Lipoic Acid as a supplement for diabetes.
Several studies show that ALA helps to lower blood sugar level in diabetes (1,2).
Alpha Lipoic Acid for peripheral neuropathy
Based upon a number of scientific studies, Alpha Lipoic Acid appears to help peripheral neuropathy in diabetic patients.
In a multicenter, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial (1), researchers gave three daily doses of Alpha Lipoic Acid (600 mg dose, 1200 mg dose or 1800 mg dose) to 181 diabetic patients with peripheral neuropathy. They concluded that treatment with Alpha Lipoic Acid for 5 weeks improved symptoms of neuropathy. They also observed that an oral dose of 600 mg once a day appears to provide the optimum benefits. Increasing the dose to 1200 mg or 1800 mg was not associated with further improvement of neuropathy.
Alpha Lipoic Acid has even been given intravenously in clinical trials with significant improvement in peripheral neuropathy, and without any significant side-effects. In a study (2), researchers critically evaluated the results of Four placebo-controlled clinical trials (ALADIN I, ALADIN III, SYDNEY, NATHAN II), with a total of 2258 patients. They concluded that treatment with Alpha Lipoic Acid (600 mg/day intravenously) over 3 weeks is safe and significantly improves peripheral neuropathy.
In my own extensive experience at the Jamila Diabetes and Endocrine Medical Center, Alpha Lipoic Acid has been found to be effective and safe in helping peripheral neuropathy.
How much Alpha Lipoic Acid?
The usual dose of Alpha Lipoic Acid that I use in my patients is 600 mg per day. This dose of Alpha Lipoic Acid is present in multivitamin for diabetes, Glupride multi.
Foods rich in Alpha Lipoic Acid
Alpha Lipoic Acid is naturally present in foods such as organ meats (heart, liver and kidneys), and vegetables such as broccoli and spinach. Alpha Lipoic Acid is also present in small quantities in Brussels sprouts, peas, tomatoes and yeast, particularly brewer’s yeast.
2. Chromium Picolinate
Chromium is a mineral. It exists in many foods including meats, potatoes (especially the skins), cheeses, molasses, and fresh fruits and vegetables. Chromium helps in many functions of our body such digestion and normal metabolism of glucose.
Chromium Picolinate may improve glucose metabolism
Several studies have shown beneficial effects of chromium supplementation in diabetic patients. In one such study (3), researchers investigated the effect of Chromium picolinate in Chinese individuals with Type 2 diabetes. For four months, one group received Chromium picolinate 100 micrograms twice a day, the second group received Chromium picolinate 500 micrograms twice a day and the third group received a placebo. Researchers noted significant improvements in glucose control as evidenced by fasting blood glucose, post-meal blood glucose and Hemoglobin A1c in the diabetics receiving 500 micrograms twice per day. There were less improvements in the group receiving 100 micrograms twice per day. In addition, there was improvement in insulin resistance and cholesterol level.
In a study (4), researchers evaluated twenty-five randomized, controlled trials and concluded that Chromium supplementation, at a dose of more than 200 micrograms per day, has a favorable effect on glucose control in diabetic patients. In addition, Chromium picolinate appears to lower triglycerides and raise HDL cholesterol (the good cholesterol), by decreasing insulin resistance. Moreover, Chromium supplementation was found to be safe.
I have been using Chromium picolinate in my Type 2 diabetic patients at the Jamila Diabetes And Endocrine Medical Center since 2004. I have found it to be effective and safe in Type 2 diabetics.
How much Chromium picolinate?
The usual dose that I use in my patients is 800 microgram per day.
3. Vanadium may help lower blood glucose
Vanadium is an essential trace element occurring in most mammalian cells.
Vanadium is well known to be beneficial for diabetics. Studies show that Vanadium decreases insulin resistance. It also acts as an insulin-like agent.
In an experimental study in Type 2 diabetic mice, researchers found that oral administration of vanadium for 3 weeks decreased blood glucose level from 236 mg/dl to 143 mg/dl.
In a well-designed clinical study (6), researchers gave vanadium, as vanadyl sulfate, at a dose of 100 mg per day for 3 weeks to six Type 2 diabetics. These patients were already on treatment with diet and sulfonylurea drugs. Their diabetes was quite uncontrolled, with fasting blood glucose of 210 mg/dl and HbA1c of 9.6 . After 3 weeks of vanadium, there was a modest improvement in the fasting blood glucose. It came down to 181 mg/dl from 210 mg/dl. More importantly, vanadium decreased insulin resistance at all three levels-liver, muscles and fat.
In another study (7), researchers compared the effects of a dose of 100 mg per day of vanadium (as vanadyl sulfate) in moderately obese Type 2 diabetics versus non-diabetics. They found that vanadium decreased insulin resistance only in the diabetics, but not in the non-diabetics.
How Much Vanadium?
The usual dose of Vanadium is 100 mg per day.
Dietary Sources of Vanadium
The main dietary sources of vanadium include mushrooms, shellfish, black pepper, parsley, dill weed.
Vanadium containing diabetes vitamin
Glupride multi is a premium multivitamin for diabetics. It contains vanadium in addition to many other important vitamins for diabetes.
4. Coenzyme Q 10 (Co Q 10) may lower blood sugar level
Coenzyme Q10 may help lower blood glucose levels. In a clinical study (8), researchers added a dose of Co Q10 at 200 mg per day to conventional glucose-lowering drugs in 9 diabetic patients. After a period of 12 weeks, researchers observed a statistically significant improvement in hemoglobin A1C, which dropped from a mean of 7.1% to 6.8% (a decrease of – 0.3). The authors concluded that Co Q10 improves diabetic control by improving insulin secretion without any adverse effects.
In another study (9), researchers gave a dose of Co Q10 at 200 mg per day to 74 diabetic patients. They also observed a significant decrease in hemoglobin A1C (a mean of – 0.37). In addition, they also noticed a drop in systolic blood pressure (mean of – 6.1) and diastolic blood pressure (mean of – 2.9).
Co Q10 is a strong antioxidant. it is also important for the normal functioning of the mitochondria: the energy power houses inside the cell. Statin drugs such as Zocor (simvastatin), Lipitor (atorvastatin), Crestor (rosuvastatin) and Pravachol (pravastatin) are commonly used in diabetic patients. These drugs dramatically lower LDL cholesterol. Unfortunately, these drugs also lower the level of Co Q10. Why? Statins inhibit the production of mevalonate, a precursor of both cholesterol and coenzyme Q10. This may be one of the reasons why many patients experience muscle aches and/or muscle weakness while on a statin drug. It is not clearly known if Co Q10 supplementation can prevent/or treat these statin-induce muscular symptoms.
Co Q10 improves diastolic dysfunction – muscle relaxation – of the heart in patients with hypertension, which is commonly present in patients with diabetes.
Natural Sources of CoQ10
Co Q10 is highest in red meats and organ meats, such as liver and heart. Other food sources of Co Q10 include fish (such as salmon, tuna, and mackerel), walnuts, peanuts, spinach, whole grains. soybeans and sesame seeds. However, overcooking reduces the amount of Co Q10 present in foods.
How much Co Q10?
Overall, Co Q10 supplementation appears to be beneficial for patients with Type 2 diabetes. The usual dose is 100 to 300 mg per day.
Co Q10 is an important ingredient in Glupride multi, a multivitamin for diabetics.
5. Zinc and diabetes
Zinc is an essential trace element that exists in all cells and is required by thousands of chemical reactions in the body. Zinc is involved in the synthesis, storage and secretion of insulin, as well as insulin action. Zinc is also a strong antioxidant.
Zinc Deficiency may increase the risk of diabetes
Several animal studies have shown Zinc deficiency to be associated with high risk of Type 2 as well as Type 1 diabetes, but there are very few human studies. In one such study (10), researchers investigated the relationship between dietary intake of Zinc, and diabetes and coronary artery disease in 1769 rural individuals and 1806 urban individuals in India. The authors concluded that low dietary zinc was associated with an increased risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, high triglycerides, and coronary artery disease in urban subjects only.
In another study (11), “Nurses’ Health Study,” in which 82,297 women in the USA were followed for 24 years, researchers concluded that higher Zinc intake may be associated with a slightly lower risk of Type 2 diabetes in women.
In addition to low dietary intake, Type 2 diabetics also have increased urinary loss of Zinc if their diabetes is not controlled.
Can Zinc Supplementation help Type 2 diabetes?
In an animal study (12), researchers gave Zinc orally to Type 2 diabetic mice for 4 weeks. They observed a significant improvement in blood glucose level as well as a reduction in insulin resistance. In addition, Zinc treatment caused weight loss and a decrease in high blood pressure (hypertension) in these mice. In another study (13), Zinc supplementation was shown to alleviate diabetic peripheral neuropathy in diabetic rats.
How about human studies? In one study (14), authors analyzed all of the published studies in humans for the effects of Zinc supplementation on diabetes and cholesterol. Compared to a placebo, Zinc supplementation caused a mean drop of 18.13mg/dl in fasting blood glucose, 34.87mg/dl in 2-hour post-meal blood glucose, and a 0.54% reduction in HbA1c (Hemoglobin A1C). In addition, Zinc supplementation caused a mean decrease of 11.19mg/dl in LDL cholesterol. Studies also showed a significant reduction in systolic and diastolic blood pressures after Zinc supplementation.
In addition, Zinc is also important to fight off infections (such as common colds, pneumonia, diarrhea), heal wounds and prevent/treat AMD (Age-related Macular Degeneration.)
How Much Zinc?
The recommended daily dose of Zinc for adults is 11 mg for males and 8 mg for females. Tolerable upper levels are 40 mg per day, both for males and females. I use Zinc in my Zinc-deficient patients as 50 mg per day. Even 50 mg per day for a couple of months is safe according to my clinical experience.
Natural Sources Of Zinc
The best way to get your Zinc is through selecting foods which are not only high in Zinc, but also good for your diabetes.
- Seafood: Oysters (cooked), Crab, Lobster
- Meats: Beef, lamb, chicken and pork
- Plants: wheat germ, pumpkin seeds, nuts, especially cashews
- Cooked oysters have the highest quantities of Zinc, followed by wheat germ (roasted), beef, pumpkin seeds and cashews
Please note that whole-grain breads, cereals and legumes contain substances called phytates which bind zinc and inhibit its absorption. Therefore, the best sources of Zinc are animal based foods such as beef, chicken and seafood.
Caution: Breakfast cereals are fortified with Zinc, but these are not good for your diabetes.
Zinc supplements for diabetes
If you cannot get enough Zinc through your diet for one reason or another, then consider Zinc supplements. Various forms are available such as Zinc gluconate, Zinc sulfate, and zinc acetate. Zinc lozenges and nasal sprays are available for “common colds.” Avoid nasal sprays, as these can cause lack of smell sensation, which can be permanent.
The label on the bottle will provide dosing information.
Excess Zinc intake (more than 60 mg per day) on a chronic basis can cause copper deficiency, which can manifest as anemia and neurologic symptoms.
6. Magnesium and diabetes
Magnesium plays an important role in the normal functioning of each and very cell in our body. In particular, it is involved in energy and carbohydrate metabolism, insulin secretion, insulin action, muscle contraction and nerve conduction. Low levels of Magnesium increases your risk of insulin resistance, Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, coronary artery spasms, muscle aches, fatigue, irritability, anxiety, ADD/ADHD, dementia, lupus, menstrual cramping, systemic inflammation, osteoporosis, and kidney stones.
Can Low Magnesium Cause Type 2 Diabetes?
In a long-term, prospective study (15), researchers followed 85,060 women and 42,872 men who had no history of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, or cancer at baseline. After 18 years of follow-up in women and 12 years in men, the researchers discovered 4,085 and 1,333 cases of Type 2 diabetes, respectively. In their analysis, the researchers found a significant inverse association between magnesium intake and diabetes risk. In other words, the lower the magnesium intake, the higher the risk of developing diabetes.
In a well designed clinical study (16), researchers investigated the relationship between magnesium in the blood and the risk of developing diabetes in 12,128 middle-aged, non-diabetics during a 6 year follow-up. Authors concluded that low magnesium in the blood is a strong predictor of development of Type 2 diabetes, among white but not among black individuals.
Can Magnesium Supplement improve diabetes?
In a well-designed study (17), researchers recruited a total of 63 Type 2 diabetics, who had decreased magnesium levels in the blood. These patients received either 50 ml of Magnesium Chloride solution (containing 2.5 g of Magnesium Chloride) or a placebo for 16 weeks.
The researchers found that magnesium supplementation, as compared to placebo, showed a significant decrease in fasting blood glucose levels from 185 (10.3 mmol/l) to 144 mg/dl (8.0 mmol/l). HbA1c also decreased from 10.1% to 8.0%. In addition, magnesium supplementation decreased insulin resistance in these diabetics.
Natural Sources Of Magnesium
The best way to get Magnesium is through foods that are high in Magnesium. Good dietary sources of Magnesium are seeds, nuts, dark leafy green vegetables and fish. These foods are also important for your overall health, especially if you are a diabetic. Other foods that contain some quantities of Magnesium include beans, lentils, whole grains and figs.
Magnesium Supplement for diabetes
Most people, especially diabetics are low in Magnesium due to a variety of reasons. For details, please refer to “pandemic of Magnesium deficiency.” Therefore, it is useful to take a Magnesium supplement. While there are several types of Magnesium supplements, Magnesium glycinate has high absorption from your intestines and usually does not cause loose stools.
7. Vitamin D and Diabetes
In the last 20 years, there has been tremendous research in the field of vitamin D. The findings are astounding! We now know that vitamin D affects almost every organ system in the body.
Can Vitamin D deficiency cause diabetes?
Is there a link between Vitamin D deficiency and diabetes? The answer is yes. Vitamin D deficiency is linked to the risk for developing Type 1 as well as Type 2 diabetes.
Vitamin D deficiency may causes Type 1 diabetes
Type 1 diabetes develops due to malfunctioning of the immune system. Mounting scientific evidence indicates that vitamin D plays a vital role in the normal functioning of the immune system Consequently, vitamin D deficiency can lead to malfunctioning of the immune system. Consequently, your own immune system starts to attack and kill your own insulin producing cells in the pancreas, reacting as if they are invading viruses that must be destroyed. Once you are unable to produce insulin, you develop Type 1 diabetes.
Evidence for the link between Vitamin D deficiency and Type 1 diabetes
Researchers have investigated the level of vitamin D in patients with Type 1 diabetes and found it to be low in the vast majority of these patients. In a study (19) researchers from the Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston, noted that the vast majority of their Type 1 diabetic patients were low in vitamin D. The study was done in children and teenagers. In my clinical practice, I check vitamin D level in all of my Type 1 diabetic patients and find it to be low in virtually all of them.
Evidence that Vitamin D may prevent Type 1 diabetes
Scientific evidence now exists to show that proper vitamin D supplementation can prevent Type 1 diabetes. One such study comes from Finland. This study (20) began in 1966 when a total of 10,821 children born in 1966 in northern Finland were enrolled in the study. Frequency of vitamin D supplementation was recorded during the first year of life. At that time, the recommended dose of vitamin D for infants in Finland was 2000 I.U. per day. These children were then followed for 31 years for the development of Type 1 diabetes.
Researchers made the amazing discovery: Those children who received the daily recommended dose of 2000 I.U. of Vitamin D during the first year of their life, had an almost 80% reduction in the risk for the development of Type 1 diabetes compared to those children who received less vitamin D.
This is a ground breaking study! If some drug achieved this kind of results, it would hit the headlines and become the standard of care at once. Sadly, even many diabetes experts are not aware of this astounding study even though the study was published in 2001 in the prestigious British medical journal called Lancet. Investigators in the U.S. continue to spend millions of dollars in their pursuit of a “drug” to prevent Type 1 diabetes. So far, this kind of research has produced disappointing results. Amazingly, they have largely ignored the strong evidence that shows the outstanding role of vitamin D in preventing Type 1 diabetes. Vitamin D is not a drug. There is no glory or huge profits in simply telling people to take enough vitamin D.
It is interesting to note that the recommended allowance of vitamin D for infants in Finland was reduced from 2000 I.U. to 1000 I.U. per day in 1975 and then further reduced to 400 I.U. per day in 1992. (For comparison, in the U.S. it has been 200 I.U. a day). This reduction in the daily allowance had no scientific basis except the observation that this amount of vitamin D is present in a teaspoonful of cod-liver oil, which has long been considered safe and effective in preventing rickets.
In the last decades, the incidence of Type 1 diabetes in Finland has been climbing, which is most likely related to the decrease in the daily recommended allowance of vitamin D. As of 1999, Finland has the highest reported incidence of Type 1 diabetes in the world (21). In Finland, the yearly sunshine (and therefore, vitamin D skin synthesis) is much lower compared to more southern areas. Therefore, the population in Finland is at even higher risk for vitamin D deficiency.
Not only in Finland, but in other countries as well, scientists have discovered the amazing power of vitamin D supplementation in preventing Type 1 diabetes. In one such study called EURODIAB (22), researchers found vitamin D supplementation during infancy can significantly reduce the risk for developing Type 1 diabetes. This study was carried out in seven centers in different countries across a variety of populations in Europe.
The relationship between Vitamin D deficiency and Type 2 diabetes
Is there a relationship between vitamin D deficiency and development of Type 2 diabetes? The answer is yes. Life-style factors that are well known to cause Type 2 diabetes include obesity, old age and physical inactivity. It’s interesting to note that all of these factors also cause vitamin D deficiency.
Vitamin D is important for normal glucose metabolism. It acts through several mechanisms on glucose metabolism:
- Vitamin D directly acts on insulin producing cells in the pancreas to produce more insulin.
- Vitamin D directly acts on the muscle and fat cells to improve insulin action by reducing insulin resistance.
- Vitamin D reduces inflammation which is commonly present in patients with Insulin Resistance Syndrome and Type 2 diabetes.
- Vitamin D indirectly improves insulin production and its action by improving the level of calcium inside the cells.
Now you can understand the important role vitamin D plays in keeping blood glucose normal.
Evidence that links Vitamin D deficiency to Type 2 diabetes
Is there any scientific evidence to link vitamin D deficiency to Type 2 diabetes? The answer is yes. Numerous scientific studies have found vitamin D to be low in patients with Type 2 diabetes.
In an excellent study (23) researchers analyzed a total of 21 prospective studies to explore the relationship between vitamin D deficiency and risk for developing Type 2 diabetes. There was a total of 76,220 participants and 4,996 individuals developed Type 2 diabetes. The risk of developing Type 2 diabetes was nearly 50% less in individuals with the highest levels of vitamin D as compared to the lowest levels. Each 4 ng/ml (equal to 10 nmol/L) increment in vitamin D level was associated with a 4% lower risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.
In another excellent study (24), researchers measured vitamin D, calcium, magnesium and insulin resistance in 30 patients with Type 2 diabetes, with 30 sex and age matched healthy controls. Vitamin D level was significantly low (mean level of 12.29ng/ml) among Type 2 diabetics as compared to healthy individuals (mean level of19.55 ng/ml). The levels of calcium and magnesium were also significantly low in Type 2 diabetics as compared to healthy individuals. In addition, there was a significant inverse correlation between Vitamin D status and insulin resistance. In other words, the lower the vitamin D level, the higher the insulin resistance.
Evidence that Vitamin D may prevent Type 2 diabetes
Is there evidence to show that vitamin D can prevent the development of Type 2 diabetes? The answer is yes. In a study (25), researchers from Helsinki, Finland collected health data in men and women from the ages of 40 to 74. None of these individual had Type 2 diabetes at the start of the study. They followed these individuals for 22 years to see the pattern of development of Type 2 diabetes. These researchers found that people who had higher level of vitamin D were less likely to develop Type 2 diabetes. Thus, vitamin D appears to have a protective effect against the development of Type 2 diabetes.
In another study (26), researchers found that vitamin D and calcium supplementation were able to reduce progression from pre-diabetes to diabetes. This protective effect of vitamin D was similar in magnitude to other measures which have been shown to reduce the progression from pre-diabetes to diabetes, such as a weight reducing diet, intense exercise and use of the drug Metformin.
In another study (27), researchers studied 8 individuals with prediabetes and vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D3 was administered as 10,000 IU daily for 4 weeks. Their results indicate that high-dose vitamin D3 supplementation reduces insulin resistance in patients with prediabetes.
Vitamin D supplementation in Type 1 Diabetes
Vitamin D supplementation is beneficial in the treatment of Type 1 diabetes. In a study (28), 80 patients with Type 1 diabetes who had 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels less than 20 ng/ml (or 50 nmol/L) were given 4000 IU of vitamin D3. Hemoglobin A1C (HBA1C) and 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels were measured at baseline and at 12 weeks.
The researchers observed that patients were more likely to achieve lower HBA1C levels at 12 weeks if they had higher 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels at 12 weeks.
Vitamin D supplementation in Type 2 Diabetes
Vitamin D is beneficial in the treatment of Type 2 diabetes. In a study (29), researchers recruited 92 Type 2 diabetics (34 males and 58 females). Each patient received vitamin D3 as 2000 IU daily for 18 months. Vitamin D supplementation resulted in a significant reduction in insulin resistance as well as a drop in LDL and total cholesterol.
In summary, vitamin D has the potential to prevent as well as treat Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. It can also prevent the devastating complications of diabetes such as heart attacks and kidney failure. Unfortunately, most diabetics continue to be low in vitamin D. Many diabetics are on a long list of expensive medications, but unfortunately, all too often, vitamin D is not included. Sadly, most physicians don’t pay attention to the important relationship between vitamin D and the health of a diabetic patient. Isn’t it time that proper vitamin D supplementation become an integral part of diabetes management?
At the Jamila Diabetes And Endocrine Medical Center, every diabetic gets their vitamin D level checked. We find the vast majority of them to be low in Vitamin D. Proper Vitamin D supplementation to achieve an optimal level of vitamin D has become an integral part of diabetes management at our medical center.
In addition to diabetes, vitamin D has a long list of incredible health benefits such as its role in the prevention of heart disease, kidney disease, dementia, high blood pressure, cancer, and osteoporosis. A full description of these benefits is outside the scope of this book. Please refer to my book, “Power Of Vitamin D” for an in depth understanding of Vitamin D, and how you can achieve an optimal level of vitamin D without the risk of toxicity.
How Much Vitamin D ?
From a practical perspective, you don’t get enough vitamin D from sun exposure and food. In my clinical practice in Southern California, I have encountered only one young lady who had a good level of vitamin D from sun exposure alone, without any vitamin D supplement. She was a lifeguard at the beach. For the rest of us, vitamin D supplement becomes the major source of vitamin D.
Most adults should take Vitamin D3 as 5000 IU per 100 Lbs. body weight.*
It is best to take Vitamin D3 with Vitamin K2. Learn more about Vitamin D3 with K2
To learn about vitamin D, please refer to my book, “Power Of Vitamin D”
8. Vitamin B12 and diabetes
Vitamin B12 plays an important role in keeping us healthy. It is involved in the synthesis and regulation of DNA in every cell of the body. In this way, it is important in maintaining the integrity of our genome.
Vitamin B12 is particularly important for the health of the brain, nerves, red blood cells, stomach, intestines, and heart. Diabetics are already at risk for dementia, peripheral neuropathy, anemia, bloating of stomach (gastroparesis), decreased intestinal motility (constipation), and heart disease. Vitamin B12 deficiency makes the matters worse in diabetics.
Vitamin B12 may prevent, treat diabetic peripheral neuropathy*
In an excellent study (30), a high dose of Vitamin B12 (2 mg), along with a high dose Folic acid (3 mg) and Vitamin B6 (35 mg), twice a day for six months was shown to be effective in alleviating the symptoms of pain, tingling and numbness in 82% of patients with diabetic peripheral neuropathy. What was even more impressive that there was actual regeneration of peripheral nerves, not just the control of the symptoms. Researchers took a skin biopsy at the beginning and then at the end of the 6 months period in 11 patients with diabetic peripheral neuropathy. They were amazed to discover that there was actual regeneration of nerve fibers in 73% of patients at the end of the 6 month period.
Who has Low Vitamin B12?
Vitamin B12 deficiency is extremely common.
- Anyone on the anti-diabetic drug Metformin (Glucophage). It is a common side-effect from the drug.*
- Anyone on a strict vegetarian diet, because vegetables do not contain vitamin B12.
- Anyone on stomach medicines such as Prilosec (Omeprazole), Prevacid (Lansoprazole), Protonix (Pantoprazole), Aciphex (Rabeprazole), Pepcid (Famotidine), Zantac (Ranitidine), Tagamet (Cimetidine). Why? Because, these drugs decrease the production of acid in the stomach. Acid in the stomach is important to separate vitamin B12 from food, so it can be absorbed. A decreased amount of acid in the stomach leads to interference with the absorption of vitamin B12.
- Most elderly people have a decrease in the production of acid in the stomach. Therefore, they are at risk for vitamin B12 deficiency.
- Those with atrophic gastritis, in which there is decrease or even absence, in the production of acid in the stomach. In addition, there is absence of an important substance, called intrinsic Factor (IF), which is normally synthesized by specialized cells in the stomach, called parietal cells. Intrinsic factor (IF) then combines with the ingested Vitamin B12, which is also called the extrinsic factor. The combination of the Intrinsic Factor and the Vitamin B12 (IF-B12) then travels through the intestines, until it reaches the terminal part of the intestine, which is known as the terminal ileum. Here this IF-B12 complex gets absorbed into circulation. In patients with atrophic gastritis, there are antibodies which destroy the parietal cells. Consequently, intrinsic factor ( IF) is absent in these patients and ingested Vitamin B12 cannot be absorbed.
- Anyone who has undergone stomach surgery, as there is a decrease in the production of acid and Intrinsic Factor(IF) in the stomach.
- Those who have the following gastrointestinal disorders: small intestinal resection or bypass, gluten sensitivity (Celiac disease), Crohn’s disease and Ulcerative Colitis. Why? Because vitamin B12 absorption cannot take place in anyone who has disease in their intestines, especially the terminal part of the intestine called the terminal ileum, as explained above.
- Antibiotics can lower vitamin B12 by interfering with normal intestinal bacterial flora.
Vitamin B12 deficiency often remains undiagnosed
Vitamin B12 deficiency often remains undiagnosed because physicians generally don’t think of it as a possibility.
For example, when a diabetic patient complains of tingling in their feet, physicians do all the work-up to diagnose diabetic peripheral neuropathy. They then start you on drug treatment without checking your Vitamin B12 level, even if you are on Metformin. In reality, peripheral neuropathy in diabetic patients on Metformin is often due to two factors: diabetes itself and Vitamin B12 deficiency. Vegetarianism adds to your vitamin B12 deficiency.
Test for Vitamin B 12 deficiency
A blood level less than 400 pg/ml indicates Vitamin B12 deficiency. In my clinical experience, patients do much better when their Vitamin B12 level is close to 1000 pg/ml or even above 1000 pg/ml.
What are natural sources of Vitamin B12?
Animal products are the main natural sources of Vitamin B12. On the other hand, plant-derived food is devoid of Vitamin B12.
Good dietary sources of Vitamin B12 include egg yolk, salmon, crabs, oysters, clams, sardines, liver, brain and kidney. Smaller amounts of Vitamin B12 are also found in beef, lamb, chicken, pork, milk and cheese.
Types of Vitamin B12 supplements?
Vitamin B12 supplements are available as oral pills and pills for sublingual (under the tongue) absorption.
I prefer the sublingual absorption route because the absorption of Vitamin B12 from the oral cavity (dissolving in the mouth) is excellent. It bypasses the complicated mechanism of IF-Vitamin B12 complex formation in the stomach, and the healthy terminal ileum, which are required for the orally administered vitamin B12.
Vitamin B12 is also available in the form of an injection. You need a prescription from a physician for a Vitamin B12 injection.
9. Cinnamon and diabetes
Physicians have long been intrigued by the beneficial effects of cinnamon on human health.
In December 2003, an excellent scientific study was published in Diabetes Care, (31) in which cinnamon powder was used in 60 patients with Type 2 diabetes. Three daily doses, 1 gram, 3 grams and 6 grams were used. There was a decrease in blood glucose by 18-29%. Serum triglycerides also decreased by 23-30%. Patients consuming 6 grams of cinnamon powder per day appeared to have achieved results earlier (at 20 days), but at 40 days, all doses had the same efficacy in lowering blood glucose and triglycerides level.
Glupride multi contains Alpha Lipoic Acid-Chromium Picolinate-Cinnamon in high doses. It also contains Vanadium, Co Q10, Zinc, Magnesium, Vitamin B12, B1, B2, B3, B6, B9, Selenium and other vitamins……. a total of 21 vitamins and minerals. Find out more about Glupride Multi
A number of diabetic herbs have been used around the world since the ancient times. DiaHerbs is a special formulation of six Herbs that have been shown to support healthy glucose levels in many scientific studies.
FENUGREEK (Trigonella foenum graecum)
A number of studies have shown that fenugreek can lower blood glucose level in diabetics. In a recently published study (32), researchers analyzed data from 10 clinical trials of Fenugreek in diabetic patients. They found that fenugreek significantly decreased fasting blood glucose by about 18 mg/dl (0.96 mmol/l), 2 hour post-meal glucose by about 40 mg/dl (2.19 mmol/l) and hemoglobin A1c by 0.85%, as compared with control interventions.
Clinical trials (33-37) have also demonstrated that fenugreek treatment not only lowers glucose level, but also reduces serum triglycerides level and total cholesterol level without lowering HDL cholesterol level in Type 2 diabetic patients.
BITTER GOURD/ MELON (Momordica charantia)
Bitter gourd is also called bitter melon. It is vegetable that is commonly used in many Asian countries. In one animal study (38), bitter gourd supplementation reduced fasting blood glucose by 30% in rats. In another animal study (39), bitter gourd not only lowered blood glucose, but also normalized the oxidative stress in diabetic rats.
In a recent review article (40), the authors critically evaluated the studies that were designed to investigate the effects of bitter gourd on diabetes. They concluded that some of the studies do indicate anti-diabetic effects for patients. They also concluded that bitter gourd treatment is safe for humans.
GURMAR (Gymnema Sylvestre)
Gymnema Sylvestre is an herb, which is cultivated worldwide. In Hindi, it is known as gurmar, which means “sugar killer.” In an experimental study (41), Gymnema Sylvestre leaf extract given to diabetic rats reduced blood glucose by 13.5 -60.0%. In a human study (42), an extract from the leaves of Gymnema Sylvestre, was given to 22 Type 2 diabetic patients for 18 – 20 months as a supplement to their oral anti-diabetic drugs. There was a significant reduction in blood glucose and HbA1C (glycated hemoglobin). In many of these patients, the dose of their anti-diabetic drugs could be decreased. Five of the 22 diabetic patients were able to discontinue their anti-diabetic drugs and were able to maintain good control of their diabetes with Gymnema Sylvestre leaf extract alone.
In addition to lowering blood glucose, Gymnema Sylvestre is also found to decrease weight, lower serum triglycerides, leptin, glucose, apolipoprotein B (LDL cholesterol), and significantly increase HDL-cholesterol and antioxidant enzymes levels in liver tissue (43). These effects are highly desirable in Type 2 diabetics, who often are obese and have elevated triglycerides level, low HDL cholesterol, elevated Apo B (LDL cholesterol) and high oxidative stress.
JAMUN OR JAMUL (Eugenia Jambolana)
Eugenia Jambolana (Jamun) grows abundantly in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh Nepal, Burma, Sri Lanka, Indonesia and Malayasia. It has been used in traditional folk medicine from ancient times.
Jamun has been used in various alternative systems of medicine and before the discovery of insulin, was a frontline anti-diabetic medication, even in Europe. The brew, prepared by boiling Jamun seeds in boiling water has been used in various traditional folk medicine in India (44).
There are several studies showing the beneficial effects of Jamun on diabetes. In an excellent, placebo-controlled, prospective clinical study (45), researchers investigated the effects of Eugenia Jambolana seeds in Type 2 diabetic patients. They had three groups: 10 patients on no anti-diabetes drugs, 10 patients taking oral hypoglycemic drugs (with history of inadequate control) and a control group of non-diabetics.
Each group was given dry powdered seeds of Eugenia Jambolana for fourteen days. On the 15th day, fasting blood and urine samples for glucose were taken. The results were impressive. In every patient, there was a marked decrease in fasting blood glucose in patients on anti-diabetic drugs as well as in patents on no anti-diabetic drugs. Moreover, there was no decrease in the blood sugar of normal, non-diabetic individuals.
No individual experienced any side-effects except for mild headaches, which authors attributed to as psychosomatic in nature. No one experienced low blood sugar.
NOPAL (Opuntia Streptacantha)
Nopal (Opuntia Streptacantha) or the prickly pear cactus has been used for glucose control by Mexicans for centuries. Studies have reported improvement in glucose control and a decrease in insulin level indicating a decrease in insulin resistance.
One such excellent study (46) was carried out in three groups of patients with Type 2 diabetes. Group one (46 patients) ingested 500 grams of broiled nopal stems. Group 2 (10 patients) received only 400 ml of water as a control test. Three tests were performed on group 3 (6 patients): one with nopal, a second with water and a third with ingestion of 500 grams broiled squash. Researchers found that serum glucose and serum insulin levels decreased significantly in groups 1 and 3, whereas no similar changes were noticed in group 2. The mean reduction of glucose reached 17% of basal values at 180 minutes in group 1 and 16% in group 3; The reduction of serum insulin at 180 minutes reached 50% in group 1 and 40% in group 3. This study shows that the stems of Nopal (O. streptacantha Lem.) lowers blood glucose as well as insulin level in patients with Type 2 diabetes. The mechanism of this effect is a reduction in insulin resistance.
Berberine, an alkaloid extracted from plants of the Berberidaceae family, has been extensively used for many centuries, especially in the traditional Chinese and Native American medicine. There are a numbers of clinical reports about the anti-diabetic effects of berberine in Chinese literature. However, most of the studies were not well-controlled and experiments were not well-designed. Finally, a landmark study (47) from Xinhua Hospital Affiliated to Shanghai Jiaotong University School of Medicine, China was published in 2008.
This study consisted of two components:
In study A, a total of 36 patients who were newly diagnosed for type 2 diabetes were randomly assigned to receive berberine or metformin for 3 months. Berberine was found to be as effective as metformin in lowering HbA1c , fasting blood glucose and post-meal blood glucose. In addition, berberine was superior to metformin in lowering triglycerides level. The glucose lowering effect was noticed within the first week and continued to improve over the following 12 weeks.
In study B, 48 adults with poorly controlled type 2 diabetes were enrolled. They were kept on their anti-diabetic drugs which were sulfonylurea, metformin, acarbose and insulin – alone or in combination. Berberine was added as a supplement. Patients were treated for 3 months. Berberine addition led to a reduction in HbA1c , fasting blood glucose and post-meal blood glucose levels. In addition, berberine caused a reduction in triglycerides, LDL and total cholesterol levels.
Side-effects were gastrointestinal: diarrhea (10.3%), constipation (6.9%), flatulence (19.0%) and abdominal pain (3.4%). The side effects were observed only in the first four weeks in most patients. In 14 (24.1%) patients, berberine dosage was decreased from 500 mg three times a day to 300 mg three times a day, as a consequence of gastrointestinal adverse events. Of the 14 patients, ten were treated with metformin or acarbose in combination with berberine. Diarrhea and or flatulence are well-known side-effects of metformin and acarbose.
None of the patients suffered from severe gastrointestinal adverse events when berberine was used alone. Berberine did not cause any change in the liver or kidney function.
Berberine has shown to increase insulin production in Type 1 DM (48).
Studies show berberine may ameliorate diabetic peripheral neuropathy pain (49)
Studies indicate berberine may protect against diabetic kidney disease (50)
In addition, studies indicate berberine may a promising, safe anti-cancer agent (51, 52).
DiaHerbs is a special formulation of Six Herbs: fenugreek-bitter melon-gurmar-jamun-nopal and Berberine.
11. Stress Buster for Stress Management
Stress of daily living is one of the main culprits for diabetes. How? Stress causes release of two hormones: cortisol and adrenaline, both of which cause an increase in the blood sugar level.
Stress also leads to stress eating, which further increases your blood sugar levels.
In my extensive clinical experience of over thirty five years, I have observed a clear link between stress and elevated blood sugar levels. Many diabetics are also aware of this connection.
Several studies have found a link between the epidemic of diabetes and our modern life-style, which is full of stress and bad eating behavior.
How to get rid of stress while living in a stressed out world? I pondered over this question. One day I was able to find the answer as I walked in our neighborhood park . I call it my “awakening” from a deep psychological sleep. Since then , I was able to figure out the real source of stress, which actually lies inside you, not out there. Hence, the solution also resides inside you, not out there. All you need is this is an inner psychological shift. I share this wisdom in my books, “Stress Cure Now” and several YouTube Videos.
In addition to this wisdom, you will benefit from “Stress Buster”- a premium blend of 17 natural ingredients, which supports stress relief, calm energy, focus, cognition, anxiety relief and immune system health. Learn more about Stress Buster.
This article is an Excerpt from my diabetes book, ” Reverse Your Type 2 Diabetes Scientifically”
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- These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.