What vitamins are good for diabetics? What is the best vitamin for diabetics

Will vitamins and minerals help my diabetes? 

This question is as controversial as the question of whether vitamin and mineral pills do anybody any good. There are doctors who claim that the only thing these supplements do for most people is give them expensive urine. There are doctors who have a go ahead and take them if you like attitude. And there are doctors who counsel their patients to take vitamin and mineral supplements to insure that they aren't missing anything vital in their diet.

Personally, we both take vitamins and minerals regularly. We do this because, despite the assurances of the Food and Drug Administration and of the doctor professor newspaper columnists, we believe that much American food is depleted of vital elements. We also think extra vitamins and minerals make us feel better. Whether or not that feeling comes from the head or the body, we can't say.

As for diabetics, in particular, needing vitamins: it is logical that even if diabetics eat a perfectly balanced and varied diet, their meals are limited in quantity. If, for example, you are restricted to one small orange in the morning, it's a cinch you're not going to get as much vitamin C as the person who can toss off a full eight ounces of orange juice. Consequently, even one vitamin C pill a day say, 100 milligrams brings you up to a better C level.

And the same holds true for the rest of the letters of the vitamin alphabet. As Dr. Joslin, founder of the Joslin Clinic, says, "To be on the safe side, there is no harm in taking one standard polyvitamin a mixture of all vitamins daily."

Two minerals that are often touted as helping diabetics by improving insulin usage are zinc and chromium. So far, though, we have found no studies that give any conclusive results on these two minerals for diabetics. Therefore, we favor waiting for some definite evidence of their benefits before loading up on supplements.

One particular need for older diabetics who take diuretics is emphasized by Dr. Stephen Podolsky. He points out that these drugs can cause potassium depletion and this, in turn, can cause your blood sugar to rise. He considers potassium depletion to be a major reason for non insulin dependent diabetics to be out of control. A diabetic on diuretics should, therefore, try to eat more potassium rich foods such as oranges, apricots, bananas, other fruits and vegetables, whole grains, etc.

If you're on a restricted diet, however, you may not be able to eat enough of these foods to make up for the potassium loss. In that case, your doctor may have to prescribe a supplement for you. Although, alas, according to Joe Graedon writing in The People's Pharmacy, potassium supplements are not always well tolerated. They sometimes cause uncomfortable side effects such as abdominal cramps, nausea, diarrhea, and "a terrible taste".

There are hazards to overdosing on minerals and vitamins, too, but most of these can be avoided if you don't take excess amounts of vitamins A and D, which can build up in the body. High doses of C can cause problems if you take a lot of it over a period of time and then stop, because that can cause you to develop a vitamin C deficiency. Also, megavitamins taken over a long period of time can cause temporary liver damage in some people. (Your doctor can give you a blood test to make certain you're not susceptible to vitamin induced liver problems.)

And finally we're glad you asked "Will vitamins and minerals help my diabetes?" and not "Will vitamins and minerals cure my diabetes?" We, too, have read, in books of vitamin lore, fables of how diabetics were able to give up insulin injections entirely after loading up on vitamin supplements and health foods. Don't give yourself false hope. If you have surplus money, it's better to give it to diabetes research for a real cure than to the vitamin industry for a false one.


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