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.
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 as per guidelines by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).
On the other hand, your multivitamin does not give you a pass 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 as defined by the National Institute for Aging (NIA) ("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, as shown in a study from Biomed Central. 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 as stated by the American Diabetes Association (ADA), 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, especially for women.
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.
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 tolerance, according to research in Diabetes Spectrum.
Vitamin D: Suboptimal vitamin D levels are common, but insulin sensitivity can improve by 60% when Vitamin D is replenished as shown in a study by the National Institutes of Health (NCIB).
Selenium deficiency is linked to diabetes risk, according to a review article in Nutrients, though too much selenium is also dangerous.
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, according to research published in Current Diabetes Reports, but calcium and vitamin D can help.
Vitamin B12: deficiency leads to neuropathy, which is already a risk in diabetes. Plus, the common diabetes drug metformin can increase risk for deficiency, according to the American Diabetes Assocation.
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,
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.
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.
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. https://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/diacare/suppl/2018/12/17/42.Supplement_1.DC1/DC_42_S1_Combined_FINAL.pdf
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