Several clinical trials have found that individuals with preclinical diabetes or impaired glucose tolerance have significantly increased levels of oxidative stress. Often these same people have depleted antioxidant defense systems. Other studies have revealed that oxidative stress was more significant in those with secondary complications of diabetes, such as retinopathy (damage caused by diabetes to the blood vessels in the back of the eye that can lead to blindness) or cardiovascular disease. The researchers conducting these studies concluded that antioxidant supplements should be added to the traditional diabetic treatments as a way to help reduce these complications.
Several studies have shown that all antioxidants may improve insulin resistance. It is important that a diabetic take a good mixture of several antioxidants in supplementation at optimal – not RDA levels. In my research and medical practice, I have learned that several micronutrients are normally deficient in patients with pre-clinical and full blown diabetes.
Chromium is critical in the metabolism of glucose and the action of insulin, but studies show that 90% of the Indian population has a chromium deficiency. Chromium has been shown to greatly improve insulin sensitivity, especially in those who are deficient in this mineral. Diabetic patients and patients with syndrome X need 300 mg of chromium in supplementation.
Vitamin E not only improves antioxidant defenses but also seems to help the body in the problem of insulin resistance. Research reveals that a low Vitamin E is an independent and strong predictor for the development of adult-onset diabetes. Individuals who have low levels of vitamin-E have a five fold higher risk of developing diabetes than those with a normal amount of Vitamin E.
Magnesium deficit has been associated with both type 1 and 2 diabetes as well as an increased risk of retinopathy in diabetic patients. Studies show that when this deficiency is corrected in the elderly, insulin function improves significantly.
Unfortunately, diagnosing magnesium deficiency is very difficult. Typically, serum magnesium levels are tested where only a trace amount of body’s total magnesium is located. Cellular levels of magnesium are much more sensitive and accurate; however, these can be tested only in research labs, not in hospitals. This is why magnesium deficiency is so under diagnosed. We need at least 400-500 mg of magnesium in supplementation.
Vanadium is not a well known mineral but is very important for the diabetic. It has been show to significantly increase insulin sensitivity when taken in supplementation. A diabetic needs to take 50-100 mcg of vanadium in supplementation each day.
I have been amazed at what can be achieved with patients who are willing to change their diet, start exercising and take nutritional supplements with key minerals and antioxidants that improve the body’s sensitivity to insulin.