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  • Writer's picture Bowie Matteson

The 4 Vitamins and Minerals to Improve Your Diabetes

Updated: Aug 9, 2023

The name of the game in halting the progression of Type I diabetes and giving yourself the best chance to regrow new beta cells is honing in on nutrition.

That's because, I would argue, your nutrition is what got you here in the first place. So what can you do nutritionally to cleanse your body of the fuel for oxidative stress? I've got a list of vitamins and minerals to help put you in the best place possible to heal.

Diabetes is frequently associated with a magnesium (Mg) deficit. Mg has been shown to help regulate resting blood sugar levels and plays a part in a healthy glycemic response.

Much of the literature is ambiguous in the chronology of low magnesium levels. It isn't clear if magnesium is low because of diabetes, or if diabetes happens because of low magnesium. Stress is a major factor in low Mg levels, which leads one to ponder its role in oxidative stress and inflammation.

You may be asking why your doctor hasn't mentioned anything about your Mg levels yet. That's because much of the acceptable range of Mg levels in the medical sphere is physiologically low. Much like the standards for test scores in your local school system have been "adjusted" (ie. lowered) to make sure not everyone fails, the range of acceptable Mg levels has fallen for the same reason. The medical communities' understanding of the role of minerals is rudimentary, so instead of asking why everyone's levels are falling we just set a new standard of whats acceptable.

Magnesium bisglycinate and magnesium malate are your best friends for best absorbed magnesium forms. Magnesium oxide and magnesium citrate are to be avoided as they aren't absorbed well and can cause gastric distress (which can make your magnesium loss even worse).

2. Copper

Copper is an important element in the regulation of your iron recycling system. As I've posted before, an abundance of iron and dysregulation of your iron recycling system is a major factor in your developing diabetes in the first place. Copper is one of the antidotes to this broken system.

Copper acts opposite iron by serving to facilitate the enzyme ceruloplasmin, which is responsible for offloading stored iron in your tissues (IE pancreatic tissue & beta cells).

A standard diet probably gets you enough copper to live a healthy life under normal circumstances. But it does not account for the abundance of added iron in all of the enriched and fortified foods you eat. Thus, supplementing is a critical component of restoring copper-iron balance in someone dealing with chronic inflammation.

Copper bisglycinate is a highly absorbable form of copper. Liver also contains naturally occurring copper. You can either add cooked liver to your weekly dinner plans or find a pill-form of freeze-dried liver.

I get mine from Thorne!

Vitamin E is a potent antioxidant. It protects against lipid peroxidation, helps convert unsaturated fats to saturated fats and helps guard against iron overload. Chances are you're consuming large amounts of omega-3s and other poly-unsaturated fats (PUFAs) via canola oils, fish oil and too many nuts and seeds. These are the things that are enhancing the inflammation initiated by iron overload. Vitamin E helps mitigate and neutralize those inflammatory responses.

Vitamin E has several potential benefits for people with diabetes. Here are a few ways in which it can be beneficial:

  • It helps to improve insulin sensitivity and lower blood sugar levels. Some studies have found that taking vitamin E supplements can help to reduce fasting blood sugar levels and improve overall glucose control in people with diabetes.

  • It helps to reduce oxidative stress and inflammation. People with diabetes are at an increased risk of developing oxidative stress and inflammation, which can lead to complications such as heart disease and nerve damage. Vitamin E has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties and may help to reduce these risks.

  • It protects against nerve damage. People with diabetes are at an increased risk of developing nerve damage, which can cause symptoms such as numbness, tingling, and pain. Vitamin E has been shown to have a protective effect on nerve cells and may help to prevent or reduce the severity of nerve damage in people with diabetes.

  • It improves cholesterol levels. Some studies have found that taking vitamin E supplements can help to lower LDL (bad) cholesterol levels and increase HDL (good) cholesterol levels in people with diabetes.

It's important to note that while vitamin E may have potential benefits for people with diabetes, it's always best to speak with a healthcare provider before taking any supplements, as they can interact with certain medications and may not be appropriate for everyone.

4. Vitamin A

Vitamin A, or retinol, along with copper, is the missing piece in restoring a healthy iron recycling system. Vitamin A deficiency alters iron status leading to an iron overload in tissues (sound familiar?). Vitamin A is a crucial factor in the production of the enzyme ceruloplasmin, which is responsible for mobilizing iron stored in tissues.

Most educators in the nutrition space will tell you that many things are fortified with Vitamin A (as vitamin A palmitate). However, vitamin A palmitate is poorly absorbed. As is beta-carotene, which is the plant compound from which vitamin A is derived. The more beta carotene you eat, the less efficient the conversion to vitamin A. Thus, in states of extreme deficiency plant sources are an unreliable source.

Animal products like cod and beef, specifically the liver, are incredibly rich in retinol. Cod liver oil and/or beef liver capsules are excellent supplements for increasing your vitamin A intake.

I get my retinol from Rosita's Cod Liver Oil.


Adding these 4 nutrients to your diet or supplement routine are an excellent way to boost your body's natural balance. Insulin sensitivity and beta cell health are just a few of the benefits that can result from boosting these vitmains and minerals. As always, be sure to consult with your medical professional to make sure these are right for you.

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