Best Multivitamins for Diabetes


Managing your diabetes takes a range of strategies, from taking your medications and monitoring your blood sugar, to eating well and getting active. As you commit to your health, you might be wondering if there is anything else you can do to improve your health.

Taking a multivitamin is one simple move you can make for your health and diabetes management. Your multivitamin supplement can provide nutrients that your body needs for regular function and that are essential for blood sugar control and insulin sensitivity.

The best multivitamins for diabetes have the nutrients you need and are safe and easy to take. These are some considerations when deciding on a multivitamin.

 

What Do Vitamins and Minerals Do?


For starters, vitamins and minerals keep you alive. They are involved in all of your body functions and your body needs the right ones available at the right times to function properly. Here is a taste of what you need vitamins and minerals for.

  • Metabolizing fat, protein, and carbohydrates in food so you have energy for movement and processes such as breathing and having your heart beat.

  • Regulating blood sugar and insulin sensitivity.

  • Replicating genetic material and producing new cells.

  • Keeping a strong immune system.

  • Maintaining healthy skin, eyes, teeth, bones, muscles, brain, and everything else.

A deficiency of a single nutrient can have noticeable and sometimes intense or permanent consequences. The best multivitamin for diabetes keeps you nourished as your body works to control blood sugar.

 

 Multivitamin or Nutritious Diet?


Why Consider a Multivitamin?

  • Prevent nutrient deficiencies and associated symptoms.
  • Consistently supply a range of nutrients on a daily basis.
  • Avoid worrying about getting each of more than 29 essential vitamins and minerals.
  • Insure intake of nutrients required for blood glucose control.

Some people wonder whether a nutritious diet can take the place of a multivitamin. “If I eat well, won’t I be sure to get the vitamins and minerals I need?”

Other people wonder whether a multivitamin can take the place of nutritious foods. “As long as I get my vitamins and minerals from a supplement, can’t I eat whatever I want?

No, and no!

A perfect diet could get you all the vitamins and minerals that you need, but it does not always. You might not get as much of each nutrient that you need, every single day. Or, you might miss out on some vitamins or minerals that are only in a few select foods. Taking a multivitamin is like an insurance policy so that if you miss out on a few vitamins or minerals from your diet, you will still get them from your supplement.

On the other hand, your multivitamin does not give you license to ignore nutritional content of your food. Low-nutrient foods tend to be pretty junky. If you choose them, you are almost sure to get more added sugars, refined carbohydrates, and unhealthy fats in your diet than you really should. That’s a sure way to raise blood sugar!

Some nutrients are hard to come by for various reasons. You might be short on vitamin B12 if you follow a vegan (plant-only) diet, or may need extra vitamin D if you are an older adult and do not drink milk or eat fatty fish.

 

 Which “Multivitamin…” and Mineral?


Make the Most of Your Multivitamin

  • Use a “high-potency” multivitamin and mineral supplement.
  • Look for USP certification.
  • Choose high-nutrient foods.
  • Ask your doctor which supplement is best for you.
  • Take your supplement every day or as directed.
  • Consider taking a separate calcium supplement.

When choosing a multivitamin, be sure to keep in mind that you want both your vitamins and your minerals. There are 13 vitamins and more than 16 essential minerals (“more than” because there a lot, but some of them are in such tiny amounts that you do not need to worry about them).

Do not assume that a “multivitamin also has the minerals. It often does, but some “multivitamins,” could be just that: a bunch of vitamins. Read the supplement facts panel to make sure your multivitamin has all of the vitamins and several minerals. 

 

Top Nutrients for Everyone


Multivitamins could have benefits such as preventing common deficiency diseases, such as anemia[1]. The best multivitamin has all the vitamins and many minerals. It provides 100% of the daily value (DV) or reference daily intake (RDI) for most vitamins and many minerals. Note that you will not get extra benefits from taking excessive amounts of nutrients[2],  so there is no need to pay extra for a supplement with megadoses.

These are a couple common items to consider when checking the nutrients in your supplement.

  • Calcium is such a big nutrient that it does not usually fit into a regular multivitamin. Ask your doctor if you should take a separate calcium supplement.

  • Iron deficiency is the world’s most common mineral deficiency, but too much can be toxic. Men and post-menopausal women may need a multivitamin without much iron.

  • Potassium is critical for blood sugar control and a healthy heart, but it is tough to put into a pill. You will probably need to get your potassium from healthy foods such as vegetables, fish, yogurt, beans, and fruit.

 

Nutrients in Diabetes


A general multivitamin and mineral supplement probably has what you need if you have diabetes, but there are a few nutrients to look for specifically because they may relate to your blood glucose levels or insulin resistance.

There are a few nutrients that are known for their role in blood sugar control.

  • Chromium, especially in the form of chromium picolinate, may improve glucose intolerance.[3]

  • Vitamin D: Suboptimal vitamin D levels are common, but insulin sensitivity can improve by 60% when Vitamin D is replenished.[4]

  • Selenium deficiency is linked to diabetes risk.

There are also some nutrients that are known to be low in diabetes or can help lower the risk of comorbities.

  • Calcium and vitamin D: patients with diabetes may have higher risk for osteoporosis and risk for bone fractures, but calcium and vitamin D can help.[5]

  • Vitamin B12: deficiency leads to neuropathy, which is already a risk in diabetes. Plus, the common diabetes drug metformin can increase risk for deficiency.[6]

  • Folic acid is necessary for heart health.

 

Making It Work for You


Taking a multivitamin is a lot like doing any other health behavior for your diabetes.

  • It becomes easier as you practice it,

  • It is a long-term strategy for health,

  • It makes your other efforts pay off more,

  • It works better when you make other healthy choices.

You can get more out of your multivitamin when you make other healthy choices. These are just a few 

  • Exercising to strengthen bones and practicing balance to prevent bone-injuring falls to support the bone-strengthening effects of calcium and vitamin D in a multivitamin.

  • Limiting salty foods, such as pickles, salty sauces and other condiments, and processed and fast foods, to keep blood pressure down along with the vitamin C in your multivitamin.

  • Including plenty of high-fiber foods, such as vegetables, fruit, legumes, and whole grains, to support the heart-healthy benefits of the folic acid and vitamin B12 in your multivitamin.

 

USP Certification for Multivitamin Supplements


Taking a multivitamin can be healthy, but there are a few precautions to follow to stay safe. First, ask your doctor if you should take one and which nutrients to look for. Follow her suggestions to be sure you are getting what you need.

When you are choosing a brand, your doctor may have specific recommendations. If not, be aware that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is technically responsible for the oversight of vitamins and minerals, but in reality has little control due to the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 (DSHEA). The FDA does not guarantee that the label on the supplement is correct.

To protect yourself as much as possible, choose a supplement with US Pharmacopeia (USP) certification. USP-certified products have been tested to be sure they contain the nutrients they claim, and that they do not contain harmful contaminants.

The best multivitamins for diabetes can help give your body what it needs for improving blood glucose control and maintaining your health in other ways. They are best when you also make healthy diabetes management choices, such as the ones that Lark Diabetes Care coaches you on.

 


Reference

  1.  Ward E. Addressing nutritional gaps with multivitamin and mineral supplements. Nutr J. 2014;13:72. Published 2014 Jul 15. doi:10.1186/1475-2891-13-72

  2.  Chehade JM, Sheikh-Ali M, Mooradian AD. The role of micronutrients in managing diabetes. Diabetes Spectrum. 2009 Sep; 22(4): 214-218. https://doi.org/10.2337/diaspect.22.4.214

  3.  Chehade JM, Sheikh-Ali M, Mooradian AD. The role of micronutrients in managing diabetes. Diabetes Spectrum. 2009 Sep; 22(4): 214-218. https://doi.org/10.2337/diaspect.22.4.214

  4.  Schwalfenberg G. Vitamin D and diabetes: improvement of glycemic control with vitamin D3 repletion. Can Fam Physician. 2008;54(6):864-6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2426990/

  5.  Chau DL, Edelman SV. Osteoporosis and diabetes. Clinical Diabetes. 2002 Jul; 20(3): 153-157. https://doi.org/10.2337/diaclin.20.3.153. http://clinical.diabetesjournals.org/content/20/3/153

  6.  American Diabetes Association. Standards of medical care in diabetes – 2019. Diabetes Care 2019 Jan; 42(Supplement 1): S1-S2. https://doi.org/10.2337/dc19-Sint01. http://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/diacare/suppl/2018/12/17/42.Supplement_1.DC1/DC_42_S1_Combined_FINAL.pdf

Natalie Stein

Exercise, Fitness & Nutrition Expert | Assistant Professor of Public Health