Diabetes. Supplements can sometimes be really hard to navigate, even when you’re completely healthy. Finding the right ones for you could be tricky, especially if you’re unsure about which brand to get and what should be the best dosage.
But, when you’re diagnosed with a serious disease like type 2 diabetes, the question of micronutrient supplementation becomes even more important. More specifically, how does vitamin C supplementation affect your health, and can it actually be beneficial?
Type 2 Diabetes
A disease that’s becoming more and more prevalent in today’s age, type 2 diabetes, or diabetes mellitus, is a condition of a chronic impairment of blood sugar regulation. It occurs when there’s too much sugar in your bloodstream, making it unable for your body to properly use it as fuel and distribute it to areas where it’s going to be broken down efficiently.
This makes your pancreas unable to produce enough insulin, a hormone that regulates blood sugar levels, making your cells slow down their sugar intake, leaving a lot of sugar to circulate in your bloodstream. This is known as insulin resistance, and if left untreated, can be very harmful to your overall health and wellbeing.
Type 2 diabetes causes severe inflammation and leads to a plethora of potential complications, from impairing your immune system and leaving you compromised for a variety of viral and bacterial attacks to damaging your blood vessels and increasing the risk of coronary heart disease.
Causes of Type 2 Diabetes
The most common causes of type 2 diabetes are:
- Poor diet with excess sugar intake and ultra-processed foods
- Being overweight or obese
- Lack of physical activity and movement in general
- High blood pressure
- Having a family history of diabetes
- Having another blood glucose-related condition or autoimmune disease
Most of these factors are in your control, and even though type 2 diabetes has no cure, it can be managed to a point similar to remission if done correctly. That’s why it’s so important to get regular check-ups and blood draws so that you can start the healing process while you’re still in the pre-diabetic stage.
One of the most abundant micronutrients found in nature, vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin that our bodies cannot produce themselves. It has to, therefore, be obtained from outside sources. The most common ways to add it into your diet is through foods that are rich in vitamin C or through supplementation.
Foods rich in vitamin C:
- Citrus fruits (lemon, lime, grapefruit, oranges)
- Bell peppers
- Cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage)
- White potatoes
Dietary supplements contain vitamin C in the form of ascorbic acid, which mimics the form of vitamin C naturally found in foods. There are other forms of vitamin C, like sodium ascorbate; calcium ascorbate; other mineral ascorbates; ascorbic acid with bioflavonoids; and combination products, such as Ester-C®, which contains calcium ascorbate, dehydroascorbate, calcium threonate, xylonate, and lyxonate. These combinations are thoroughly researched in order to see if there’s a potential better or more bioavailable form of vitamin C that could be even more beneficial to our bodies.
The role of vitamin C in your body is extremely important, as it’s involved in protein metabolism, the biosynthesis of collagen, L-carnitine, and certain neurotransmitters, and it’s an essential part of your connective tissue which is crucial for wound healing. It’s also a potent antioxidant, helping your body fight free radicals and oxidative damage they can create, boosting your immune function.
The recommended daily intake of vitamin C was developed by the Food and Nutrition Board (FNB) at the Institute of Medicine (IOM) of the National Academies, and for adults over 19 years of age, it’s calculated as 90 mg for men and 75 mg for women. Still, these are just baselines and depending on a variety of different factors, you might need more.
Type 2 Diabetes and Vitamin C
Supplements aren’t regulated by the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA), meaning there’s no real way to know for sure how pure, potent, or efficient your supplemental vitamin actually is. That’s why it’s always best to talk to your doctor and choose only those supplements that contain the United States Pharmacopeia (USP) seal on the bottle as that means it at least adheres to their rigorous standards. This reduces the potential health risk factors of simply going to your local drugstore and getting the first bottle, not knowing what’s inside the actual pill.
When you’re dealing with a disease such as type 2 diabetes, your body is already in a very high-inflammatory state, and adding another harmful substance into the mix can only make things worse.
A placebo-controlled, cross-over study led by researchers from Deakin University and published in the journal, Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism, found that people with type 2 diabetes who took a vitamin C supplement for 4 months had lower post-meal blood glucose levels, compared with those taking a placebo. Even though the study was done on a small number of participants, it showed remarkable results, potentially making a pretty strong case for vitamin C supplementation.
Another study directly tested the effect of vitamin C on glucose levels and found that there were significant reductions in fasting glucose levels, triglycerides, and cholesterol in the group that was supplemented with 1000 mg of vitamin C. This high dose was crucial as the other group only received 500mg and the results were significantly different.
In addition to that, researchers believe that doses of vitamin C in diabetics or patients with vitamin C deficiency will improve insulin sensitivity and function of endothelium, helping further showcase its powerful properties when it comes to controlling blood sugar levels.
Before you decide to start supplementing with vitamin C, it’s always best to do a full micronutrient panel, and check your vitamin C levels. With it, you will also discover any other vitamin and mineral deficiencies that can also play a huge role in the treatment and management of your type 2 diabetes. These include vitamin D, vitamin E, B vitamins, magnesium, chromium, iron, and more.
Having controlled blood sugar levels should be a goal for everyone, whether you’re healthy, prediabetic, or have a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes. But when your levels are chronic, it’s always best to arm yourself with every possible fighting tool at your disposal.
And even though there isn’t specific proof that recommends vitamin C for diabetics, these studies are showing its potential, and when it comes to supplementation, almost everyone needs it. Today’s food simply isn’t as abundant in micronutrients as it once was and the environmental toxins and other harmful substances are depleting them out of our system at a much faster rate than ever before. In addition to leading a healthy lifestyle, smart supplementation is key.