Preventing Diabetes Complications: Don t Let Diabetes Destroy You!
A diagnosis of diabetes can seem like a death sentence, but you can see it as a call to action. Weight loss, exercise and good nutrition can virtually reverse the condition, improve your overall health and help you avoid the heart disease and nerve, kidney and eye damage that are associated with the disease. These nutritional supplements should be part of your action plan. They’re all proven to help reduce diabetic “complications” — the stuff that can actually kill you in the long run.
Thiamine (Vitamin B1): Get about 25 mg a day. Thiamine helps keep blood sugar from sticking to proteins and fats, a harmful process that literally gunks up your body. Research shows that high sugar levels cause more damage when blood thiamine levels are low. Conversely, supplementing with thiamine reduces sugar damage. In one study, adding thiamine to a cell culture reduced sugar-related damage by an impressive 80%.
Chromium: Take 200 mcg a day. Many people with diabetes are low in chromium. The best kind to supplement with is niacin-bound chromium, or chromium polynicotinate. It can help overcome insulin resistance by making insulin receptors on cells work better. It can also aid fat loss while preserving muscle.
Alpha Lipoic Acid: Alpha lipoic acid acts as a co-factor in energy production, and helps preserve energy production in diabetes-compromised cells. It also acts as anti-inflammatory and antioxidant, and because it is both fat-soluble and water-soluble, has a special affinity for nerve and brain cells, which are surrounded by fatty sheaths. Research from the Mayo Clinic shows that people with diabetic neuropathy who took alpha lipoic acid had a significant reduction in symptoms. The largest dose, 1,800 mg a day, worked best. It improved symptoms in 71% of diabetics. Researchers think alpha lipoic acid might prevent nerve damage if you start taking it early, before you have irreversible nerve damage.
Antioxidants: Get a good mix. Free radicals and oxidative stress are implicated as a cause of type 2 diabetes, and are also responsible for diabetes-related complications. Clinical studies have shown that antioxidants such as vitamin C, vitamin E, CoQ10, lutein, zeaxanthin and beta-carotene can be very effective in reducing diabetic complications, including vascular, nerve and kidney damage, and damage to the retina of the eye. Your best bet is a good mix of both water-soluble and fat-soluble antioxidants, including at least 300 mg of vitamin C, 400 IU each of vitamin E as mixed tocopherols and mixed tocotrienols, and 100 – 200 mg of CoQ10.
Cinnamon: Take 500 mg a day. Cinnamon can reduce blood sugar levels by almost 30%, increase insulin production and lower cholesterol levels. Cinnamon’s ability to control blood sugar also makes it a valuable tool for weight loss. Cinnamon may actually stimulate insulin receptors on fat cells in the same way that insulin does, allowing excess sugar to move out of the blood and into the cells. This effect may reduce cravings for sugar and cause fewer calories to be stored as fat. Research has shown that taking cinnamon extract may lead to significant increases in lean body mass and a reduction in overall body fat. We recommend 500 mg a day of a patented, water-soluble form of cinnamon, which is well-absorbed and safe, even at high doses.
Magnesium: Make sure you’re getting enough — at least 400 mg a day. Magnesium improves insulin sensitivity and may even help delay the onset of type 2 diabetes and ward off its devastating complications. Lots of people with diabetes have chronically low levels of magnesium. That’s because diabetes causes the kidneys to excrete magnesium, and because insulin resistance makes it harder for cells to take in and retain magnesium.
B Vitamins: Beef them up. The B-complex vitamins — thiamine, niacin, folic acid, vitamin B12 and others — help convert sugar and starches to energy, a process known as carbohydrate metabolism. A shortage of any one of the Bs makes it hard for cells to use energy properly. As with magnesium, people with diabetes tend to be low in Bs, because diabetes itself uses up B vitamins, and because poorly-controlled diabetes causes these nutrients to be excreted in the urine. We recommend 25 – 50 mg of most of the Bs (with 400 – 800 mcg of folic acid and 500 – 1,000 mcg of vitamin B12.)
The Anti-Aging Bottom Line: Optimal nutritional support can mean the difference between living well with diabetes or suffering severe physical damage or even dying from it. Make sure you’re getting what you need, as well as regular exercise, stress reduction and eating healthy foods.