Diabetes Update: Everyday Nutrients Reduce Chances of Developing Type 2 Diabetes


According to the latest figures from the Centers for Disease Control, 29.1 million people or 9.3% of the U.S. population have diabetes.  Since 27.8% of people with diabetes go undiagnosed, that means some 8.1 million people with diabetes do not actually know they have it.  Besides the risk of hypoglycemia or hyperglycemic crisis that goes hand in hand with a body that doesn’t properly manage blood sugar levels, diabetes also increases the risk of many other complications, including:

  • High blood pressure
  • High LDL bad cholesterol
  • Blindness and eye problems
  • Kidney disease
  • Amputations
  • Neuropathy
  • And others.

As with any disease, prevention is much more desirable than having to seek treatment after the fact. In these recent studies, five nutrients stood out for supporting blood sugar management that is healthy.


Doctors reviewed 19 studies covering 539,735 participants, some of whom developed type 2 diabetes over the various study time periods. Participants answered a food-frequency questionnaire to help determine the level of magnesium in the diet. Overall, compared to those who got the least magnesium, those who got the most magnesium from diet and supplements were 23 percent less likely to have developed type 2 diabetes over the several study time periods.

Doctors also found a direct link: each 100 mg-per-day increase in magnesium led to a 16 percent decrease in chances of developing type 2 diabetes. Discussing the findings, doctors said when magnesium levels are low, special insulin-producing cells in the pancreas don’t function properly, and that earlier studies had found magnesium improves insulin sensitivity and blood sugar levels in both diabetics and non-diabetics. Ensuring a good level of magnesium in the diet may help prevent type 2 diabetes.

Reference: Journal of Nutrition; October, 2015, Published Online

Chromium supplements

Doctors analyzed a group of 28,539 adults to determine who took chromium supplements. Over half regularly took supplements of any kind, and 29 percent took supplements that included chromium.

When doctors compared chromium users to those who did not take chromium, they found that those who took chromium supplements were 27 percent less likely to have developed type 2 diabetes over the 12-year study period. There was no change in chances for developing type 2 diabetes with supplements that did not contain chromium. Doctors said chromium helps metabolize carbohydrates, fats, and proteins, and enhances the action of insulin.

References: Journal of Nutrition; October, 2015, Published Online
Biomedical and Environmental Sciences; 2015, Vol. 28, No. 7, 527-34

Zinc normalized blood sugar in prediabetes

The body needs zinc to efficiently use insulin, metabolize carbohydrates, and protect insulin-producing beta cells from inflammatory damage. In this study, doctors gave 55 pre-diabetic people 30 mg of zinc sulfate per day or a placebo. The study took place in Bangladesh, one of the most zinc-deficient regions of the world.

After six months, those taking zinc saw fasting blood sugar levels decrease by 5.76 mg/dL, bringing readings from pre-diabetic levels back into the normal range. Doctors also measured pancreatic beta-cell function, insulin sensitivity and resistance, all of which improved in the zinc group.

Reference: Diabetes Research & Clinical Practice; May, 2016, Vol. 115, 39-46

 Milk thistle and type 2 diabetes

Because oxidative stress and inflammation contribute to developing type 2 diabetes and its complications, doctors wanted to measure the effects of milk thistle on these factors in those with type 2 diabetes.

In this study, 40 people with type 2 diabetes, aged 25 to 50, who were taking standard diabetes medications, took 140 mg of milk thistle three times per day, or a placebo.

After 45 days, compared to placebo, those taking milk thistle saw circulating levels of the antioxidant superoxide dismutase increase by 12.85 percent, and the antioxidant glutathione peroxidase rise by 30.32 percent. Total antioxidant capacity increased by 8.43 percent compared to placebo.

Doctors also measured inflammation, with the inflammatory factor high-sensitivity C-reactive protein declining by 26.83 percent. Malondialdehyde, an important sign of oxidative stress, also declined by 12.01 percent compared to placebo.

Reference: Phytomedicine; February, 2015, Vol. 22, No. 2, 290-6

Vitamin D

Telomeres are the end-caps that protect each strand of chromosomes in every cell. As cells divide, telomeres shorten, eventually preventing cell division. The longer the telomere, the younger biological age of the organism. Shorter telomeres have a link to type 2 diabetes.

In this study, 34 people with type 2 diabetes and low levels of vitamin D—less than 30 nanograms per milliliter of blood—took 4,000 IU of vitamin D per day.

After six months, activity levels of telomerase—the enzyme the body needs to synthesize telomeres—had increased 28 percent. Doctors said the study shows that vitamin D supplements may prevent or delay the progress of disease by reactivating telomerase.

Reference: The FASEB Journal; 2016, Vol. 30, No. 1, Supplement 1156.1

Betsy’s Note: This article is for educational purposes only. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, prevent or cure any disease. Consult your healthcare provider before beginning a supplement, especially if you take medication or have a medical condition.  For example, magnesium, chromium, zinc and milk thistle also thin blood. Vitamin D may be contraindicated for those with the condition known as hypercalcimia.

Article copyright 2016 by Natural Insights for Well Being. All rights reserved. Used with permission.