Almost half (46.5%) of the Canadians are deficient in vitamins, such as vitamin B12 and D. It is seen that people with type 2 diabetes are at a higher risk of vitamin deficiency.

Altered vitamin levels make it challenging to manage sugar levels and increase the risk of diabetes-related complications, such as nephropathy. Taking a healthy diet or supplements may help in dealing with type 2 diabetes.

However, certain supplements may interfere with your medications. It is thus recommended to consult your doctor if you are planning to take any supplements. The doctor may advise getting the vitamin levels checked and prescribe vitamin supplements in case of deficiency.

Here are certain vitamins that are commonly deficient in people with type 2 diabetes.

Type 2 Diabetes and B12 Deficiency

Vitamin B12 is an important nutrient and is responsible for maintaining the health of the nervous system and blood cells. It also plays an essential role in DNA synthesis and cholesterol metabolism.

Type 2 diabetes increases the risk of vitamin B12 deficiency. It is seen that almost 22% of the individuals with type 2 diabetes had lower levels of this vitamin.

Causes 

Individuals with type 2 diabetes have insulin resistance, a condition where the body cells do not respond to insulin as well as they should. 

Medications, such as metformin, used to manage type 2 diabetes could lower vitamin B12 levels.

Metformin improves insulin sensitivity and is one of the oldest and commonly used medications for type 2 diabetes. However, long-term use of metformin results in vitamin B12 deficiency.

Besides, this essential nutrient is present in fish, dairy products, meat, and poultry. If you do not consume enough of these food items, you are prone to vitamin B12 deficiency.

Effects

Type 2 diabetes, if not managed, results in high blood sugar levels that may damage your nerves.

As vitamin B12 is essential for maintaining your nerves’ health, its deficiency further increases the risk of neuropathy.

The most prevalent symptom of diabetic neuropathy is a sensation of pins and needles in hands, arms, feet, and legs.

Type 2 Diabetes and Iron Deficiency

Iron is an essential nutrient required by many molecules to maintain their structures and functions. 

Causes

Various diabetic complications, such as nephropathy, increases the risk of iron deficiency. Besides, a diet deficient in iron-rich foods, such as beans, chicken, and red meat, can also cause iron deficiency.

Effects

Low iron levels result in iron deficiency anemia. Some common symptoms are:

  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Palpitations
  • Chest pain
  • Cold feet and hands

Type 2 Diabetes and Magnesium Deficiency

Magnesium plays an essential role in maintaining the health of the body and brain.

Causes

In type 2 diabetes, the pancreatic cells do not release enough adequate insulin, and also, the body cells are resistant to this hormone. Insulin resistance is associated with excess loss of magnesium through urine, resulting in magnesium deficiency.

Effect

Magnesium aids in improving insulin sensitivity and, thus, blood sugar levels. Low magnesium levels make it difficult for the body to manage sugar levels.

Magnesium supplements are recommended to manage sugar levels and prevent diabetes-related complications.

These supplements also help manage pre-diabetes, a condition where sugar levels are higher than normal but lesser than that required to qualify as diabetes.

Type 2 Diabetes and Vitamin D Deficiency

Vitamin D, the sunshine vitamin, is mainly vital for maintaining the health of the bones and joints.

Causes

Vitamin D, both obtained through sun and diet, can be used by the body after it is metabolized in the liver and kidneys.

Long-term high sugar levels, with inadequately managed type 2 diabetes, are often associated with kidney and liver damage. Individuals with type 2 diabetes are thus at a higher risk of vitamin D deficiency. 

Effects

Before knowing about the effects, let us first understand the link between vitamin D and insulin.

Here is how vitamin D and insulin are interconnected:

  • Vitamin D activates the insulin gene on the beta cells (pancreatic cells synthesizing insulin), increasing insulin production.
  • It prevents the destruction of beta cells by the immune system.
  • Vitamin D manages normal calcium levels. Calcium plays an important role in insulin secretion.

A study in Canada has shown that lower levels of vitamin D are responsible for insulin resistance, increasing the risk of type 2 diabetes.

Type 2 Diabetes and Thiamine Deficiency

Vitamin B1 or Thiamine is an essential nutrient as the body cannot produce it. It plays an important role in managing the health of blood vessels and providing energy to the body.

A study has shown that about 75% of individuals with type 2 diabetes are deficient in thiamine.

Causes

Thiamine is metabolized in the kidneys before the body excretes it. Poorly managed sugar levels in type 2 diabetes may damage the kidneys, increasing the risk of thiamine deficiency.

Besides, diet lacking B1, increased requirement, fever, and excess loss through urine cause thiamine deficiency. 

Effects

In people with diabetes, thiamine deficiency can be present as:

  • Lactic acidosis: A condition where lactic acid accumulates in the blood resulting in fatigue, cramps, and stomach pain.
  • Ketoacidosis: In type 2 diabetes, the body cells cannot use glucose due to insulin resistance. In the absence of glucose, body cells break fats into ketone for energy, resulting in higher ketones in the blood. This condition is known as ketoacidosis and causes symptoms such as fruity breath and abnormal respiration.
  • Encephalopathy: It is caused by damage to the brain, resulting in confusion and altered mental state

Thiamine deficiency results in high sugar levels and complications such as diabetic neuropathy.

Final Thoughts

Deficiency of certain vitamins is common in people with type 2 diabetes. So, if you have diabetes, you should talk to your doctor about getting their levels checked. Managing adequate nutritional status with diet and supplements will help in controlling diabetes and prevent diabetes-related complications. You can also check here about vitamin deficiency in type 1 diabetics.

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