Deficiency of certain vitamins has been noticed to induce insulin resistance in the body thereby increasing the risk of diabetes. An effort at identifying those vitamins, their roles in the body and how to optimize intake and absorption to prevent or manage diabetes has been put forward. We at Sugar Knocker believe in addressing the condition from the base and eradicating the primary cause. To this effect, we provide information on possible conditions that need to be looked at before starting treatment.
The two major vitamins that affect insulin sensitivity in the body are vitamin D3 and vitamin B12.
Let us look at the role, benefits and sources of each of them
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that is responsible for strong bones and teeth and also for a healthy immune system. Though there are many sources of this vitamin, its most optimum source is sunlight and hence also called “Sunshine Vitamin”. Body produces natural Vitamin D in the presence of sunlight and even an exposure of only 20 minutes every day is sufficient to maintain healthy levels of vitamin D. But either due to geographical or lifestyle factors, it is not always possible to get enough sunlight and this poses a great risk for diabetics or those prone to the condition.
Symptoms of Vitamin D include bone pain, muscle weakness, a weak immune system and even mild depression. When left untreated for extended periods, it may also lead to high blood pressure, osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s, cancer and type 2 diabetes.
While the ideal levels are between 20-50ng/ml, maintaining the levels around 60-80ng/ml keeps blood glucose under control.
There are two forms of this vitamin – D2 and D3. While fortified cereals and milk claim vitamin D fortified, in most cases, it is the inferior form – D2 which is added which is a cheap and not so effective form of the sunshine vitamin. Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) is the same form which is produced by the body in the presence of sunlight.
B12 is a feel-good vitamin that is very essential for normal functioning of the body and mind. It keeps the nervous system and blood cells healthy and unlike vitamin D, sources of B12 come through diet. Some of the early symptoms of B12 deficiency maybe tiredness, weakness, appetite loss, constipation and weight loss but may aggravate and cause more serious problems if left untreated for a long time. Severe and long-term deficiency causes pernicious anemia which deprives cells of life-giving oxygen. It may also lead to heart disease and stroke in severe cases.
Diabetes increases the risk of neuropathy or nerve damage due to high glucose levels over prolonged periods and so does vitamin B12 deficiency for non-diabetics too. The symptoms are the same and the cause is nerve damage hence it becomes essential to be treated for the same.
Natural sources include red meat, beef, poultry, fish, eggs and diary. B12 absorption is enhanced by regular exercise and sleep along with the right diet. Since it is not found in plants, vegetarians – vegans in particular have been found to be more deficient than the rest. In such cases, supplements or injections of B12 may be administered.