Vitamins, Minerals and Supplements against Diabetes.

Diabetes is a serious illness affecting America over the last decade.  Though it is a well-known disease, there is no cure for it; but only management, to prevent worsening the condition and avoiding further complications. There are two categories of diabetes.

Type 1 is known as insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM). In IDDM, the lack of insulin stems from destruction of the beta cells that prevent the body from producing insulin.  It usually occurs early in life, during childhood, and the young patient is made to live with a lifetime of insulin injections.

Type 2, or non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM), makes up the majority of diabetes cases, estimated at about 13 million people in the US. Unlike Type 1, the pancreas of Type 2 patients eventually wears out, and no longer produces sufficient insulin that is recognized by the body.  It can creep along unnoticed for years, and is usually diagnosed when one is an adult (25 years and up).

Based on the two types, it seems that the administration of insulin is the only solution to the management of the disease.  However, recent studies show that insulin is not alone in combating the disease.  Here are a few significant vitamins, minerals and supplements to aid the fight against diabetes.

Vitamin D.

Vitamin D is a nutrient found in the body that contains calcium and phosphorus, chemicals needed for bone growth and strength.  It is formed on the skin, when cholesterol at the subcutaneous level interacts with the ultraviolet rays of the sun.  Traditionally known as the nutrient to combat osteoporosis (bones becoming brittle due to loss of calcium), Vitamin D has been tested and found to prevent diabetes as well.

A research conducted in Finland, where people are exposed to very little sunlight, proved that Vitamin D protected children against high blood sugar, a first sign of diabetes.  The experiment was conducted on 12,000 children who were administered Vitamin D from birth (1966). Researchers published in 2001 that they have observed that 80% of the risks for diabetes were reduced, mainly preventing high blood sugar, than that of those that did not receive Vitamin D supplements.  However, Endocrinologists desire more validation for this result because they have found no correlation yet between the efficacies of the Vitamin with the nature of diabetes.  They also caution that too much of Vitamin D is toxic, thus the administration must be under the supervision of a doctor.

Vitamin E.

Next up in the alphabet, Vitamin E.  For the past decade, health and nutrition experts have concluded that antioxidants help combat free radicals, bad cells in the body that cause diseases like cancer and type  diabetes, together with a healthy diet and lifestyle.  Well, since type 2 diabetes is a condition of voluntary cell dysfunction, antioxidants can help in this aspect.  Antioxidants include among others, Vitamin E.

Vitamin E is a fat-soluble nutrient found in milk, plant leaves and wheat germ oil.  It has been proven to aid reproduction in both lab experiments and actual human experience.  A widely used form of Vitamin E, alpha-tocopherol is ingested into the body in the form of gel capsules.  Though its effect in diabetes prevention is real, an increase in the vitamin intake was not proven to be proportional to the level of prevention.

Minerals.

Minerals are inorganic nutrients that are essential in normal bodily functions as well as combating diseases, like diabetes. 

Magnesium and potassium are minerals that aid in carbohydrate and protein metabolism.  The proper breakdown and synthesis of carbohydrate into simple sugars is a function that diabetics lack.  With the aid of the two minerals, it can help prevent the disease.

Chromium and zinc facilitate the recognition of insulin in the body. 

Supplements.

A third type of nutrient that fight diabetes is organic supplements. 

Blueberry is a fruit that is rich in antioxidants, which can address free radicals that cause body cells to malfunction.  They particularly improve sight, which can help alleviate diabetic blindness.

Mamordica Charantia (bitter melon) is a vegetable that is rich in nutrients that enhance the production of beta cells, thus improving insulin production by the pancreas.  In the Philippines, where the plant originates, it is a recommended supplement.  Chinese herbal medicine also swears by this plant and actually uses it traditionally to address sterility, skin diseases and gastro-intestinal diseases.  If one is able to tolerate the bitter taste, then it promises a high chance of improving pancreatic activity (by as much as 54%).

Coupled with a sensible diet and healthy lifestyle, using vitamins, minerals and supplements like the ones above, can help fight diabetes.