Diabetes and dietary supplements

Chad Collins is a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator. Contact him at 525-2019, email chadcollinsrd@candw.ky or visit www.caymannutrition.com

There is no requirement for diabetics to take supplements of vitamins and minerals on a regular basis. However, those who have poor glycemic control (whose blood sugars often run high and may have zinc, magnesium and water soluble vitamin deficiencies) may benefit from taking supplements.

Such minerals and vitamins can be lost when blood sugars are frequently high or uncontrolled.

The best way to reduce your risk for possible nutrient deficiencies, as well as other health problems, is to ensure blood sugars are maintained in recommended ranges throughout the day. If you believe you may be at risk of vitamin and/or mineral deficiency, take steps to have your nutritional state evaluated by your GP or a registered dietician. A thorough nutritional assessment and blood sugar evaluation will include reviewing a client’s food choices, eating habits, food preferences and overall health status.

The best way to get vital vitamins and minerals is from food. However, for some diabetics following the recommendations of a healthy diet may be challenging. Some foods may not be part of their regular diet due to food allergies and intolerances; their lifestyle; or because of certain food aversions. Diabetics who for whatever reason exclude important food groups from their daily diets may need to take supplements. Other people who may benefit from taking vitamin and or mineral supplements include children, strict vegetarians, those whose calorific intake is less than 1,000 calories a day and women who are planning a pregnancy, already pregnant or breastfeeding.

If you plan to take dietary supplements, follow specified dosages. Toxicity is possible if you take too many of certain vitamins and minerals on a daily basis. Overdosing can potentially cause more harm than good. Another point to remember is that synthetic vitamin and mineral supplements are the same as those labelled as natural. Generic brands and synthetic vitamins and minerals are generally less expensive than “natural” supplements and are equally effective.

It is also important to remember that eating a balanced diet is often preferred over taking supplements because food contains additional nutrients, including phytochemicals. Phytochemicals are compounds that occur naturally only in foods and are thought to contain important health benefits. WH