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Do you have diabetes? Include vitamins in your diet

Hereditary factors and even an unhealthy lifestyle can be the reason for the onset of diabetes © Shutterstock

Vitamins are good for health. But if you have diabetes, it can save your life. Read on to know how different vitamins can help you control this health condition.

Written by Jahnavi Sarma |Updated : July 9, 2019 12:37 PM IST

Experts Diabetes is often said to be a lifestyle disorder. Other than hereditary factors, an unhealthy lifestyle and bad nutritional habits play a significant role in triggering factors responsible for the onset of this condition. According to a study published in Journal of Diabetes Nursing, a healthy, balanced diet is necessary for the prevention and management of type 2 diabetes. Of course, this goes hand in hand with maintaining a healthy weight and physical activity.

A balanced diet should include all the vital nutrients including vitamins. Research has shown that vitamins can play an instrumental role in regulating your blood sugar levels. You can easily incorporated these vitamins into your diet through common foods. Most of these fight the effects of oxidative stress and damage by free radicals to the blood vessels and organs.

Here, we reveal the role of various vitamins that are beneficial for diabetes patients along with the foods that we can get them from. However, it goes without saying that you must consult your doctor and a nutritionist before including or excluding any food in your meals if you are a diabetic.

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Vitamin C

According to certain studies, intake of vitamin C can reduce the occurrence of diabetic retinopathy by almost 50 per cent. It also reduces oxidative stress and offers protection from inflammatory conditions. Regular intake of this vitamin also decreases the risk of this disease. Researchers from the University of Oklahoma found that if insulin was used to control blood sugar along with Vitamin C, it stopped blood vessel damage. This is very common in patients with diabetes. Blood vessel damage can cause heart diseases, reduce circulation, led to amputation and kidney diseases. It can also cause diabetic retinopathy, which can lead to blindness.

Food sources: Citrus fruits, berries, kiwi

Vitamin E

This is a lipid-soluble antioxidant. It protects your membranes by inhibiting lipid peroxidation. However, if you take it in high doses, vitamin E can be fatal. However, moderate consumption of vitamin E can reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases in diabetes patients. Researchers of Technion-Israel Institute of Technology found that regular intake of this vitamin in recommended doses can bring down the risk of heart attack by almost 43 per cent. It also decreases death due to heart disease by around 55 per cent. This study was published in Diabetes Care.

Food sources: Nuts and seeds, wheatgerm

Vitamin B1

People who suffer from diabetes are usually deficient in vitamin B1. This could be the result of frequent urination, a condition that often comes with diabetes. Doctors say that any deficiency in this vitamin can cause hyperglycaemia (high blood sugar)-induced tissue damage. Regular intake of vitamin B1 can help reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases as while bringing down oxidative stress. It can also prevent and reverse early stages of nephropathy, a kidney condition that diabetes patients often experience.

Researchers from the University of Warwick have discovered that high doses of vitamin B1 can effectively reverse the onset of early diabetic kidney disease. Also called diabetic nephropathy, this disease develops progressively in patients with type 2 diabetes. This study was published online in the journal Diabetologia.

Food sources: Yeast and yeast products, pork, nuts, pulses, wholegrain cereals.

Vitamin B3

This is a naturally occurring vitamin that lowers cholesterol levels and triglycerides by inhibiting their synthesis, while raising high-density lipoprotein cholesterol. It also reduces the risk of heart diseases in diabetic patients. Vitamin B3 can lower blood sugar levels, reduce fatty liver and prevent peripheral nerve damage as well, according to a study by researchers at the University of Iowa and the Iowa City VA Health Care System. This study was published in the journal Scientific Reports.

Food sources: Meat, fish, wheatflour, maizeflour, yeast extract, coffee

Vitamin B12

The most common symptoms of a deficiency in this vitamin are anaemia, neuropathy and cognitive decline. The liver can store this vitamin for up to 3 years. This is also the only water-soluble vitamin. Even elderly people and those who have had bariatric surgery can store it for up to 1 year.

According to a study presented at the Society of Endocrinology's annual conference last year (2018), diabetic patients who take metformin (a first-line drug for type 2 diabetes) should go in for regular check-ups to ascertain if they have the required amount of vitamin B12. According to experts, a deficiency in this vitamin can cause irreversible, painful and potentially disabling nerve damage. Diabetes is a serious health issue across the world and it can casue severe nerve damage. The symptoms can range from numbness to pain. It can cause a loss of balance and co-ordination.

Food sources: Meat, fish, dairy, eggs

Vitamin D

This is a fat-soluble vitamin and you can take it in by exposing yourself to the the ultraviolet rays of the sun. A deficiency in this vitamin affects glucose metabolism. It affects the functions of your beta cells and increases insulin resistance and glucose intolerance. Both these conditions can increase your blood sugar levels.

According to a recent study published in Menopause, the journal of The North American Menopause Society (NAMS), optimal levels of vitamin D may also promote greater insulin sensitivity. This can lower your blood glucose levels and the risk of developing type 2 diabetes as well. Habitual exposure to the sun also provided the same association, demonstrating that vitamin D deficiencies are associated with high blood glucose levels.

In another study, researchers from the Salk Institute say that when beta cells become dysfunctional, the body can't make insulin to control blood sugar (glucose) its levels can rise to dangerous levels. Vitamin D can effectively treat damaged beta cells. The journal Cell published this story.

Food sources: Oily fish, eggs, fortified spreads

Vitamin A

Experts earlier thought that this vitamin had no influence on diabetes. But now, a new study says that it can improve the insulin producing beta-cells function.

Researchers from University of Gothenburg, King's College (London) and the Oxford Centre for Diabetes found that vitamin A plays an important role in the development of beta cells during the early stages of life. This is important for the proper functioning of these cells during the remaining life, especially when there is some inflammatory condition.

But, at the same time, too much vitamin A is harmful and can lead to osteoporosis. However, the risk of overdose arises only when it is taken from dietary supplements and if you consume foods rich in vitamin A, this risk doesn't apply.

Food sources: Liver, milk and dairy, eggs, fortified fat spreads, carrots

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