Good nutrition is important for everyone, but it’s especially important for anyone with a disease like diabetes. While all nutrients and minerals are important to human health, some vitamins in particular stand out when it comes to helping diabetics.
B-Vitamins can help with diabetic neuropathy, as they are essential for maintaining healthy nerves. They also play a huge part in the reactions that transform carbohydrates into usable energy for the body, which is why they’re often included in energy drinks and supplements. Most of the B-Complex vitamins are water-soluble and are excreted in urine, so they aren’t stored in very large quantities by the body, and must be consumed daily through food or supplements to keep pace with the body's needs.
Foods that are high in B-Vitamins include liver, brewer's yeast, and wheat germ.
What to look for in a B-Vitamin supplement: A good B-Complex supplement will include all the most common members of the B-Complex family of vitamins, like:
- B1 – Thiamine
- B2 – Riboflavin
- B3 – Niacin or Niacinamide
- B5 – Pantothenic Acid
- B6 – Pyridoxine
- B12 – Cobalamin, cyanocobalamin, or methylcobalamin.
Many B-Complex supplements also contain Vitamin C because it is considered a synergistic nutrient to the B vitamin family.
Vitamin D has enjoyed some time in the spotlight recently, since many studies have revealed its benefits for cardiovascular health, cancer prevention, insulin sensitivity, immune function, and diabetes.
Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin, usually synthesized from cholesterol on your skin with exposure to ultraviolet rays, like those in natural sunlight. Because Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin that lasts for some time in the body, it’s possible to overdose. However, keep in mind that the human body manufactures larger quantities of Vitamin D with a little sun exposure than the current official RDA (Government Recommended Daily Allowance).
What to look for in a vitamin D supplement: D3 (Cholecalcipherol) is the natural form of Vitamin D manufactured by your body. Most Vitamin D supplements come as oil in a gelatin capsule (usually sourced from fish oil, but vegan varieties made from lanolin are available) however people with gallbladder problems or those who do not properly digest fats often choose the powdered variety.
Vitamin K is another fat soluble vitamin that shows promise in studies for helping diabetics. It may also improve bone density and aid calcium metabolism in the body.
Foods high in vitamin K include grass-fed dairy products, cabbage, broccoli, and leafy greens like spinach, kale, collard greens, and Swiss chard.
What to look for in a vitamin K supplement: There are two varieties of vitamin K; K1 and K2, and they have different benefits for the body. Vitamin K Complex supplements that combine the different types of vitamin K found in foods are available so you won't miss out on any of its benefits.
Contraindications: Vitamin K interferes with anti-coagulant medications.
Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin well-known for its antioxidant and immune-boosting properties, and it may be of particular importance to diabetics. The antioxidant properties of Vitamin C help prevent oxidative damage, which is detrimental to the maintenance of healthy blood sugar levels and insulin sensitivity.
Vitamin C is found in many foods, like citrus fruits, broccoli, cabbage, and potatoes, but some people don’t get enough in their diet, especially since the Vitamin C content of foods can be reduced by cooking.
What to look for in a Vitamin C supplement: Vitamin C usually comes in doses of 500 or 1,000 Milligrams. Chewable tablets are available for children or those who have trouble swallowing tablets or capsules. Also, buffered Vitamin C is a good option for those with acid reflux or ulcers that are bothered by the un-buffered, acidic supplemental form of Vitamin C.