Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes: supplementation with vitamins, minerals, and omega-3s can reduce blood glucose

People at high risk of developing non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus may benefit from combined supplementation of multivitamins, minerals, EPA and DHA. According to a new study of people with type 2 diabetes, or prediabetes, treatment with supplements of vitamin D, mineral salts, omega-3, resveratrol, along with other nutrients and bioactive molecules, can lower blood sugar and prevent complications. The combined action of these substances could be a preventive program to reduce the risk of diabetes and improve glycemic status in predisposed individuals.

The finding was published in the Journal of Clinical & Translational Endocrinology and was conducted in recent months by a team of Canadian researchers.

Diabetes: a common disease in Western countries 

Diabetes is a chronic disease characterized by the presence of elevated blood glucose levels (high blood glucose or hyperglycemia) and due to impaired insulin quantity or function. There are different forms of diabetes, the most common being type 1 and type 2 diabetes. In type 1 (insulin-dependent) diabetes, the pancreas does not release insulin due to destruction of the Beta cells that produce this hormone. Type 2 (non-insulin-dependent) diabetes is the most common form in the world; in fact, among the 347 million people who suffer from diabetes mellitus, those with type 2 diabetes account for 90 percent of cases. The prevalence of this form of the disease is highest in older people, but more than 50 percent of the affected population is of working age. Although the cause is still unknown, it is certain that in type 2 diabetes the pancreas is able to produce insulin, but the body's cells are then unable to use it. The risk of developing type 2 diabetes is linked to a complex combination of genetic and environmental factors, also related to lifestyle, the main ones being:

  • overweight or obesity
  • age over 45 years old
  • high blood pressure
  • low HDL cholesterol levels
  • excess triglycerides in the blood
  • history of gestational diabetes
  • sedentariness
  • history of heart disease and stroke
  • depression

The modifiable lifestyle risk factors that offer the opportunity for intervention and prevention are diverse; in particular, the risk of developing diabetic disease can be reduced by following a balanced diet, engaging in physical activity, even moderate activity, and maintaining an adequate body weight. While lifestyle changes tend to be the main focus of diabetes prevention strategies, the possibility of modifying the risk of the disease by improving levels of dietary nutrients intake is also making its way into the world of research. The development of diabetes is preceded by abnormalities in glucose homeostasis (i.e., the balanced condition of blood glucose), leading to insulin resistance, glucose intolerance, and eventually the development of type 2 diabetes. 

It has been hypothesized that daily variation in glucose homeostasis may be exacerbated by inadequate nutrient composition, as many micronutrients such as minerals and vitamins are necessary factors for the proper functioning of enzymes involved in glucose metabolism. Nutrients that may contribute to blood glucose containment include vitamin D, vitamin K, minerals such as Calcium, Magnesium, and Zinc, and omega-3 fatty acids. Vitamin D, in particular, appears to play a significant role in the progression of diabetes, as confirmed by studies linking low blood levels of the vitamin with both insulin resistance and pancreatic beta cell malfunction. However, the evidence from clinical trials on the action of individual nutrients, including vitamin D, is inconsistent: some studies have shown positive effects while others report null results; however, it is conceivable that a combination of nutrients is needed to benefit.

Vitamin D combined with a multivitamin, omega-3, minerals and bioactive molecules reduces blood glucose 

In the new study, researchers examined the effects of two supplementation programs with different nutrients, on the blood sugar of subjects with diabetes or prediabetes. One type of treatment involved supplementation with vitamin D and a multivitamin, while the other relied on the use of vitamin D combined with a multivitamin, minerals, and omega-3. 

The results showed that nearly half of the participants who had consumed this latest combination of molecules manifested a decrease in blood glucose to normal levels. Providing the best results, then, had been supplementation with vitamin D, omega-3 and a specially designed product containing numerous vitamins, minerals and also antioxidant and anti-inflammatory ingredients such as lutein, lycopene, blueberry extract and resveratrol. 

Specifically, the combination of these nutritional supplements was associated with a reduced risk of moving from normal glycemia to prediabetes and an increased likelihood of the prediabetic subject to improve glycemia, two years after starting treatment. At one year after the supplementation course, only 8% of those who had followed this second type of complex supplementation went from "normal" to prediabetic or diabetic blood glucose, compared with 16% of those who had followed the vitamin-only treatment. In addition, as many as 44 percent of the subjects who had consumed the combined supplements regressed from the prediabetes/diabetes condition, to normal; an effect found in only 8 percent of the other supplementation group. So, as stated by the researchers, vitamin D combined with other nutrients was associated with a reduced risk of progression to diabetes and an increased rate of blood glucose reversion to normal, in high-risk participants. 

Some details of the study

The researchers, led by Samantha Kimball, involved more than 1,018 participants in a program that involved supplementation with vitamin D drops plus a plain multivitamin (Vital 1 supplementation), or with vitamin D drops combined with a multivitamin also containing mineral salts and with one of omega-3 fatty acids (Vital 2 supplementation). Each of the participants was monitored for one to two years, measuring changes in blood vitamin D levels; C-reactive protein, a substance indicative of inflammation; glycated hemoglobin, which is an indicator of long-term excess blood glucose; and blood glucose. The results showed that blood levels of vitamin D were significantly increased in both groups over 12 months, but only Vital 2 treatment was associated with significant reductions in glycated hemoglobin and C-reactive protein. 

A simple and reliable preventive strategy to prevent type 2 diabetes? 

The excellent results, according to the research authors, show that vitamin D in combination with other nutrients is associated with a reduced risk of progression to diabetes and an increased rate of regression to "normal" glycemia in high-risk participants. Data suggesting how a simple, safe strategy based on nutritional supplementation could reduce the risk of diabetes and improve glycemic status by reducing the incidence of the disease.

Source:

S.M. Kimball et al. ""Effect of a vitamin and mineral supplementation on glycemic status: Results from a community-based program." Journal of Clinical & Translational & Endocrinology.

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