One vitamin is joining the debate around diabetes treatment. Should a type 2 diabetic seek help with vitamin E? As you’ll see here, the evidence is far from conclusive.
Vitamin E is a powerful fat-soluble antioxidant nutrient. Part of its action in our bodies may involve the way insulin is used, as well as the metabolism of blood glucose. For these reasons, vitamin E has been proposed as a potential aid for type 2 diabetics.
As a refresher, vitamin-E-rich food sources include: wheat germ; yams;, asparagus; avocado; greens; sweet potatoes; spinach; kale; vegetable oils (canola, cottonseed, soybean, corn, olive, safflower); mayonnaise;, corn-oil margarine; sunflower seeds; eggs; liver; and nuts (walnuts, hazelnuts, and almonds, specifically).
A recent meta-analysis of vitamin E supplements in type 2 diabetes totaled nine studies and 418 patients. They were treated with vitamin E for at least eight weeks.. The study came to the following conclusions:
— Vitamin E supplements failed to improve glycemic control in all type 2 diabetic patients.
— Vitamin E supplements were only effective in those with poor diabetes control and those with vitamin E deficiency at baseline.
HbA1C (which measures the average blood glucose levels over the previous nine months) was lowered by 0.58% in these groups. So this would suggest that those who have trouble controlling their diabetes may find some benefit with this antioxidant nutrient.
— The researchers say that “the safety and long-term benefit of such supplements remain to be determined before its clinical benefit can be established unequivocally.”
On to the dosage. The recommended daily intake of vitamin E in individuals over 14 years old is 15 milligrams of alpha-tocophenrol. The adult safe dose for vitamin E is 1,000 mg (or 1,100 international units [IU]) a day.
In individuals with chronic disease(s), a vitamin E dose greater than or equal to 400 IU increased death by any cause. This finding led to plenty of news stories back in 2005 and vitamin E winding up in the bulk bins for cheaper prices.
As for adverse effects, hemorrhagic stroke risk is increased in people taking vitamin E supplementation. Taking doses greater than or equal to 400 to 800 IU a day can cause the following adverse effects: rash; blurred vision; headache; weakness; dizziness; and fatigue.
Anyone considering using the vitamin to help with diabetes should first consult their physician.
Here are the previous articles in this series: