Inadequate levels of zinc, vitamin D, vitamin E, and vitamin B were also associated with risk of diabetes or diabetes-related complications.
Certain vitamins and minerals may be linked to the development of diabetes mellitus, according to the authors of a review published in Human Nutrition & Metabolism. Notably, insufficient levels of vitamin K may be associated with diabetes, however, supplementation could also be used as an effective therapy to manage the condition.
“Vitamin K has a critical function in lipid metabolism and lowers blood levels of HDL (high-density lipoprotein [cholesterol]) and triglycerides, which has a significant influence on the treatment of diabetes, particularly type 2,” wrote the author.
Diabetes is one of the most common health conditions around the world. Between 1980 and 2014, the incidence rate grew nearly 4-fold during this time (108 million to 422 million cases, respectively); and between 2000 and 2019, diabetes-related mortality rose as well. There is a larger number of people in low- and middle-income countries being diagnosed compared to people in high-income countries, and common comorbidities include blindness, kidney failure, heart attacks, stroke, and limb amputation.
This review aims to address possible associations between diabetes and vitamin and mineral deficiency. The author searched various databases for papers related to diabetes management, therapies, and the impact of nutrition on diabetes, and evaluated each paper’s quality and strength of findings.
Vitamins B9, E, D, B1, K, and zinc were positively associated with diabetes and pre-diabetes, and vitamin K stood out as key modulator of glucose metabolism. While vitamin K was not shown to impact fasting blood glucose, it did improve insulin and glucose levels after eating. Other research supports these findings, showing that vitamin K supplementation can improve insulin resistance after 3 years in older adults, and it can also improve bone mineral density in these at-risk populations.
Zinc may also serve as a significant treatment because of its ability to store and manufacture insulin. Zinc is being more widely studied as a component of anti-diabetic medication because it can also reduce postprandial hyperglycemia for 2 hours after a meal, and it may also activate molecules which promote glucose control. In addition, zinc was shown to make insulin last longer.
Other vitamins and minerals to note are folate, which (when an appropriate amount is consumed) may reduce risk of diabetes by improving insulin sensitivity and decreasing risk of insulin resistance. According to the authors, these results show a potential for folate to be considered a dietary element that can be altered to prevent diabetes, the author wrote.
Vitamin E can lower hemoglobin A1C and improve diabetes management. Conversely, previous studies have linked vitamin E deficiency to diabetic neuropathy and cardiovascular issues, marking it an important vitamin for patients with type 2 diabetes. Serum vitamin D deficiency was also shown to increase the risk of developing type 1 diabetes, but vitamin D supplementation can lower this risk, according to some studies.
Vitamins B3, B6, C, and A were considered to have “controversial" association, as opposed to positive association. Some studies linked these vitamins to improved care, but there is not enough evidence available to highlight an association. The investigator calls for additional research on the role of nutrients in the manifestation and management of diabetes. Since it is a complicated link, more studies are needed to identify the underlying mechanisms.
“While diabetes encompasses multiple aspects, it is essential to acknowledge that this research represents an initial step towards comprehending this intricate association,” the author concludes.
Younes S. The role of micronutrients on the treatment of diabetes. Human Nutr & Metab. Accessed on January 26, 2024. doi:10.1016/j.hnm.2023.200238