Diabetes is More Than Just Blood Sugar Problems

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Diabetes is More Than Just Blood Sugar Problems

Learn how micronutrients also affect insulin receptors, fructose metabolism and much more

November is National Diabetes Month, which is particularly appropriate after Halloween and the sugar binges that accompany it. Below are a few reasons the dangers of sugar extend beyond a few extra pounds – blood sugar problems deteriorates cells throughout the entire body from the inside out. The good news is that nutrient status can mitigate much of this damage.  Here are a few examples:

Magnesium and glucose levels: 

In a major review and meta-analysis on magnesium and glucose levels, eighteen randomized controlled trials were reviewed that specifically looked at magnesium supplementation versus placebo in patients that either had diabetes or were at high risk of diabetes. Compared to placebo, magnesium treatment reduced blood sugar levels in diabetics. Similarly, in people that did not yet have diabetes but who were at higher risk of developing it, magnesium treatment lowered blood sugar after a glucose challenge and trended toward lower markers for insulin resistance, leading authors to conclude that “magnesium supplementation appears to have a beneficial role” in markers of glucose metabolism.

Chromium and is the nutrient that helps insulin do its job:

Chromium is a trace metal that plays a very big role in metabolizing carbohydrates.  It is the central molecule of a compound called GTF (glucose tolerance factor), which helps insulin attach to a cell’s receptors thus allowing glucose to be taken up by a cell and used for fuel versus floating around in the bloodstream wreaking havoc on our blood vessels and brain.  When a chromium deficiency exists in the body, we cannot handle sugar properly, biochemically speaking, which causes insulin resistance.  The good news is that when a chromium deficiency is corrected, improvement in blood sugar regulation will often follow.  The bad news, however, is that supplemental chromium, such as in the form of chromium picolinate, may not always be absorbed efficiently.  And chromium competes for the binding site of a protein that transports iron which may also inhibit absorption.  The best food sources for this mineral are broccoli, green beans and potatoes.  Foods high in simple sugars, on the other hand, actually increase the rate of excretion and thus promote chromium deficiency.

Lipoic acid is the “helper” nutrient in diabetics:

When it comes to micronutrient name recognition, the vitamins and minerals typically get the spotlight.  Lipoic acid is an incredibly powerful antioxidant that may be less well known, but just as important, particularly to diabetics.  One unique property of this potent nutrient is that its antioxidant properties exist in both water and lipid phases of tissue.  Most antioxidants work to protect either one or the other.  Fat soluble nutrients protect cell membranes (which are made of fats) and water soluble nutrients protect the fluid inside the cell (cytoplasm), for example.  But lipoic acid’s unique structure makes it soluble in both and thus particularly versatile, cellularly speaking, that is.

To add to its resume, lipoic acid (also called thioctic acid) has the ability to regenerate other antioxidants – such as vitamin C, vitamin E, glutathione, cysteine and coenzyme Q10 – after they have been “used up” rendering them active again.  Lipoic acid is also known for its ability to bind to insulin receptors and consequently enhance glucose uptake into muscles, making it useful in improving glucose tolerance in type 2 diabetics.  Given its ability to protect against damage to fat soluble cell structures (lipid peroxidation), it can also be effective in treating certain diabetic complications like peripheral neuropathy. 

Copper and Vitamin C help metabolize fructose:

Fructose is different than glucose in that it does not directly raise blood sugar when ingested.  This is because fructose, unlike glucose, can enter a cell without the help of insulin.  It is metabolized by the liver, but interestingly, one of the byproducts of fructose metabolism is glucose.  So, although fructose may not directly increase blood glucose levels, it certainly can indirectly affect blood glucose levels.  Excess fructose, beyond the cells capacity to metabolize it, hijacks metabolic pathways in the cell, depleting energy reserves and nutrients.  Interestingly, one of the clinical effects is hyperinsulinemia (high insulin) which is an indirect effect of poor carbohydrate metabolism.  Copper deficiency is a known cause of fructose intolerance.  Similarly, vitamin C deficiency is common in fructose intolerance.  For this reason, the nutrients needed for metabolic function outside the traditional glucose metabolism role are also just as important.

For more information on the link between Micronutrients and Diabetes, click here.

The Spectracell MicroNutrient Test measures these four vitamins plus 30 more. 

To order your Spectracell Test, click here.


1Effect of magnesium supplementation on glucose metabolism in people with or at risk of diabetes: a systematic review and meta-analysis of double-blind randomized controlled trial. Eur J Clin Nutr, 2016 70:1354-1359.

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