Alpha Lipoic Acid | a vitamin-like substance that occurs naturally in the body. Improves blood flow to nerves and may stimulate regeneration of nerve fibres.
Anti-oxidants | a group of vitamins, minerals and supplements that clean up free radicals.
B Vitamins | a group of vitamins involved in nervous system functions and in the formation of red blood cells.
CoQ10 | an enzyme that occurs naturally in the body. May prevent free-radical damage to kidneys, nerves, blood vessels and eyes.
Essential Fatty Acids | a group of fatty acids that the body cannot manufacture on its own. Includes omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. These fatty acids are the building blocks of various beneficial hormones.
Evening Primrose Oil | contains a high percentage of GLA, one of the omega-6 essential fatty acids.
Free Radicals | highly reactive substances that can bind to and damage tissues in the body.
Selenium | an essential mineral that acts as an anti-oxidant.
Vitamin B6 | also called pyridozine, B6 is needed for proper nerve function.
Vitamin B12 | also called cyanocobalamin, B12 is needed for proper nerve functions and for proper red blood cell formation.
Vitamin C | also called ascorbic acid, vitamin C acts as a water-soluble anti-oxidant and helps with the structure of tissues.
Vitamin E | also called tocopheryl, vitamin E acts as a fat-soluble anti-oxidant.
The best way to avoid these problems is to eat properly (limiting sugars and saturated fats) and to keep good blood sugar control. However, even if with good control over your diabetes you may develop these conditions later in life. Fortunately, there are supplements that may help prevent some of the long-term problems.
Anti-oxidant vitamins may help prevent kidney problems, eye problems and nerve damage. The exact way they provide these benefits is not understood. It is known that anti-oxidants help to eliminate 'free radicals,' substances that can cause damage to tissues. People with diabetes who take anti-oxidants are less likely to develop nephropathy, neuropathy and retinopathy. Anti-oxidants can also protect against heart disease by preventing free radical damage to the blood vessels. The most common anti-oxidants used to prevent diabetic complications are vitamin C, vitamin E, selenium and alpha lipoic acid.
B Vitamins are needed for the proper functioning of nerve cells. Some B vitamins may protect against the complications of diabetes. In particular, those who do not have enough vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) may be at greater risk of diabetic neuropathy. If you take metformin (Glucophage™) you may need vitamin B12 supplements since metformin seems to affect the body’s ability to use this vitamin.
Essential fatty acids are used by your body to produce various hormones. They can protect against heart disease and may lower cholesterol. Some such as Evening Primrose Oil™ can help prevent diabetic neuropathy. The body is able to make some of these fatty acids from foods in the diet but this ability is reduced in those with diabetes.
CoQ10 is an enzyme that occurs naturally in the body. It is needed for cells to produce energy so they can do their work. CoQ10 also has some anti-oxidant effects. People with diabetes have less CoQ10 in their bodies than those without diabetes. A lack of this enzyme may weaken the heart and put you at risk of heart disease. Those who take oral hypoglycemics (the pill for lowering blood sugar) seem to have lower levels of CoQ10 than those who are insulin-dependent.
Many of these supplements may affect your blood sugar. This means it is important to monitor your sugars carefully. You must tell your doctor if you choose to take any of these products. It is also important to add only one supplement at a time. If you start several supplements at once and have problems or successes, you will not know which supplement is responsible!