Vitamins and Dietary Supplements

What You Need to Know About Vitamins and Diabetes

Diabetes is a worldwide epidemic that affects more than 10 percent of the population of over 50 countries, but it’s not just a disease that affects our blood sugar. Diabetes can also affect how we feel mentally and physically. There are many differing opinions on the benefits of vitamins and dietary supplements, specifically for people with diabetes.

Dietary supplements are vitamins, minerals, and herbs. These are usually taken by mouth. Dietary supplements can provide extra nutrition and health benefits to some people, including people with diabetes.

It’s important to understand that diabetes is not caused by a vitamin or mineral deficiency. Therefore, it would be unrealistic to expect that taking a few vitamin supplements will drastically impact blood sugar levels. However, for some people with diabetes, vitamins and dietary supplements in conjunction with lifestyle changes can be helpful to manage and even reverse diabetes.

Your need for vitamins and dietary supplements will largely depend on the foods you eat. For example, if you eat a wide range of vegetables, include fish in your diet, eat eggs, dairy, nuts, seeds, and meats, then your vitamin needs will be much lower than someone who limits one or more of these items.

There are many different vitamins and dietary supplements for people with diabetes, each with its own benefits. This article will discuss what they are, who should take them, and how to know which to take and which to avoid!

The Best Vitamins and Supplements for People With Diabetes

Consult with your doctor before taking any vitamins or supplements.

We strongly recommend having your doctor order a blood test to determine your specific needs. To ensure that you won’t be guessing which vitamins and minerals you’re deficient in, we recommend taking a blood test. Most people with diabetes will not need every vitamin and mineral listed below. In general, you should only supplement vitamins and minerals where your body is deficient. Unless specifically advised by your doctor, avoid “megadosing” on any vitamins, minerals, or supplements.

Vitamin D

Foods rich in vitamin D, top view on a white table.Vitamin D is an essential vitamin for the human body. It is also one of the most common vitamin deficiencies in the United States. Vitamin D has been shown to improve insulin sensitivity and prevent diabetes complications like cardiovascular disease, kidney failure, blindness, and nerve damage in adults with diabetes.

Vitamin D is not just important for people with diabetes. This vitamin helps the body regulate insulin production, maintain normal blood sugar levels, and keep bones healthy.

Sunlight is the best form of Vitamin D, regular sun exposure for 10-30 minutes a day can increase vitamin D levels.

It’s difficult to get enough vitamin D from food alone, so many doctors recommend taking a supplement that provides at least 400 IU per day of vitamin D.

A study published in Diabetes Care found that adults with type 1 or type 2 diabetes who took 2000IU/day of supplemental vitamin D had less risk for developing diabetic kidney disease than those who did not take supplements. In addition, they also discovered lower risks of cardiovascular mortality rates due to high cholesterol among patients who supplemented their diets with 2000IU/d versus placebo when compared to other studies on supplementation.

Studies show that there might be an association between low levels of Vitamin D in the blood, insulin resistance, obesity. Both people with type 1 and 2 diabetes have been found to have lower vitamin D levels than healthy controls. The level was also related to having high triglyceride levels among participants who were overweight or obese. This could be explained by diminished fat absorption due to pancreatic dysfunction in those with diabetes.


Magnesium is also an important mineral for people with diabetes. It is necessary to maintain good cardiovascular health, and it helps regulate blood sugar levels by keeping insulin in the body from being destroyed prematurely.

Maintaining a healthy magnesium intake can be difficult since most of our food sources are processed, removing much of its natural magnesium content. Eating more green vegetables, nuts, seeds, fish, or beans will help you meet your nutritional needs.

Many people suffer from low magnesium because they don’t eat enough leafy greens and other foods that contain this vital nutrient. Symptoms of low magnesium include mood swings like depression or anxiety, muscle cramps or spasms after exercise (sometimes called “the charley horses”), restless leg syndrome due to nerve problems, and tingling or numbness in the hands.

Magnesium supplements can be helpful to replenish your body’s magnesium stores. Magnesium is available as a liquid supplement (easier on the stomach) and capsules. You may want to start with 400 mg per day, then increase doses as needed.

Vitamin B-12

B-12 vitamins are also necessary for people who have diabetes because they help deliver oxygen from blood cells throughout the body allowing all organs to function better. In addition, vitamin B-12 helps regulate glucose levels in your bloodstream by converting carbohydrates into energy that doesn’t raise blood sugar levels too high. It has also been shown to decrease insulin resistance and improve diabetic nerve pain.

It is recommended that adults over 50 years old who have type 2 diabetes take a supplement containing 400mcg of vitamin B12 per day. Adults with type 1 diabetes need to be careful not to exceed 1000mcg because it can cause nerve damage in people with severe cases of diabetes.


While calcium is important for everyone, especially children and women after menopause, this mineral is particularly critical for people with diabetes since low calcium levels are linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

One study found that postmenopausal women who took 1500 mg or more daily were at lower risk than those taking less. Calcium supplements may also help prevent diabetic kidney disease by reducing urinary protein loss.

Thiamin (B1)

Foods rich in vitamin B1 (thiamin) on a white table.Thiamin is critical to the proper functioning of our nervous system and brain. It’s important for people with diabetes to take this vitamin since they are more likely to have seizures or other neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease.

The recommended daily intake for Thiamin in adults over 50 years old who have type 2 diabetes should be increased from 100 mg/day to 200mg per day if thiamin deficiency hasn’t improved by changing nutrition habits. Depending on individual needs, the supplemental form can come in capsule, tablet, liquid, or extended-release forms.

Vitamin E

Vitamin E has been shown to improve insulin sensitivity in people with diabetes and also protect against diabetic cataracts. In addition, it’s a powerful antioxidant that helps the body fight oxidative stress, which can lead to cardiovascular disease or other chronic conditions like diabetes.

In one study, 246 adults with type 2 diabetes were given 400 IU of vitamin E per day for four years. The results showed improved blood sugar levels as well an overall decrease in fat cells.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C has been shown to have impressive effects on blood sugar. It’s one of the most potent antioxidants in our diet and is important for skin health.

One study found that children who took 2000 mg or more daily had a 30% lower risk of getting type 2 diabetes.

In adults over 50 years old with type 2 diabetes, supplementation should be increased from 75mg per day to 150mg if you’re not already taking it regularly.


Foods high in selenium on a light grey background.Selenium is an essential mineral that plays a key role in thyroid hormone production and immune system function. One particular benefit of this nutrient for people with diabetes is its ability to reduce insulin resistance which can help control blood sugar levels and lower the risk of other chronic health conditions like heart disease.

It should be noted that Selenium can have a toxic effect if taken in large doses, so it’s important to consult with your doctor or nutritionist first before taking any supplements for diabetes management.


Supplementing zinc may help people with type 2 diabetes control their blood sugar because low levels are linked to insulin resistance which is often accompanied by high blood sugar. People who already take more than 25 mg per day of zinc shouldn’t take extra without consulting a doctor since too much could interfere with medicines they might be using, such as warfarin. Some studies also show that copper supplementation would negate these benefits from taking Zinc.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to reduce inflammation, improving insulin sensitivity and blood sugar management. Fish is a great source of omega-3, but it’s also available in supplemental form or as flaxseed oil.

The Healing Power of Herbal Supplements

Many herbal supplements on the market today have great healing properties when taken regularly by those diagnosed with diabetes. Here are some examples:

Dandelion Root Extract

The dandelion root extract has been shown to help control blood sugar levels, which is important for those with diabetes.


Fenugreek herb on a table with a bowl of fenugreek seeds sitting on a burlap napkin.The fenugreek plant has long been used in Ayurveda and traditional Chinese medicine to increase milk production when breastfeeding or even after childbirth. The benefits have also been found among people with diabetes trying to regulate high blood sugar levels by lowering their insulin release. Fenugreek can be drunk as tea or taken as capsules, or in extract form.

Licorice Root Extract

This herb is often used during the cold and flu season. Licorice root extract is especially helpful for people with diabetes because it helps stabilize glucose metabolism while protecting the body from oxidative stress.


This sweet spice has long been used in Indian and Arabic cooking, but it’s also a great supplement for people with diabetes. Studies show that cinnamon can help reduce blood sugar levels, which is especially important to those on the path towards developing prediabetes or type 2 diabetes.

Aloe Vera

This plant is often used to help heal burns, and it can also be helpful for people with diabetes. Research shows that aloe vera extract taken twice a day orally, along with lifestyle changes, may lower blood sugar levels and help manage other chronic health conditions by reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Bitter Melon

Bitter melon is used in many countries of the world, and it is cultivated worldwide. People with diabetes should use this bitter melon in small amounts because it contains polypeptide-p, which can help lower blood sugar levels. The fruit has been shown to reduce the level of sugar in the bloodstream. It also has some anti-inflammatory properties, which may offer relief for people struggling with type 2 diabetes.


Ginger root and ginger powder in a bowl, sitting on a wood table.Ginger has long been known as a good source of antioxidants and natural anti-inflammatories. Studies show that it can also be helpful for those with diabetes by reducing blood sugar levels. It also has positive effects on the intestinal tract, improving digestion and reducing the risk of diabetes-related complications such as cardiovascular disease.

Vitamins and Supplements to AVOID if You Have Diabetes

There are many vitamins and supplements that people with diabetes find helpful in managing their condition. However, there are also a few to avoid as they can be dangerous or interfere with the medicines you’re taking for your diabetes.

Ginkgo Biloba

This herb doesn’t seem very effective at helping regulate blood sugar levels. Some experts warn about its potential side effects such as headaches, dizziness, ringing in the ears, and nausea.


This substance has been shown to reduce cholesterol levels, but it is not as effective for those with diabetes. Some studies have found that policosanol can increase blood sugar levels among people with diabetes.

Ginseng Root Extract

These extracts are often related to energy which is helpful during exercise or when your physical activity level might be low. However, if you have diabetes and are taking insulin, ginseng root extract may interfere with how your body uses insulin. This supplement also doesn’t seem very useful at regulating high glucose levels among people with type 2 diabetes, though more research needs to be done on this topic.

Where To Buy Vitamins and Supplements for Diabetes

There are many places where you can buy vitamins and dietary supplements for diabetes. Discount stores, pharmacies, and health food stores carry most vitamins. You may prefer to purchase online instead.

Unless specifically recommended by your doctor, you can avoid vitamin packs marketed to people with diabetes. Most likely, you don’t need all of these different vitamins. It’s much better only to supplement what your body needs.

Make sure you read all of the labels to understand how many pills to take for the dosage you need. If you have any allergies, make sure also to double-check the ingredients, as some pills have additives to make them shelf-stable.

The Bottom Line

Vitamins and dietary supplements are a great way to fill in any gaps in your nutrition to ensure that you’re not deficient in any areas. We recommend starting with a visit to your doctor and a blood test to determine which vitamins and minerals you may need.

Make sure you don’t set unrealistic expectations for vitamins. They aren’t a magic fix for high blood sugar levels or diabetes. Remember, diabetes isn’t caused by a vitamin or mineral deficiency. However, correcting any deficiencies you may have will help your overall health. You may notice some improvement in your blood sugar levels as a positive side effect. The goal of supplementing with vitamins and minerals is to help ensure you’re getting proper nutrition and improving overall health.