Skip to content

    Diabetes Health Center

    Font Size
    A
    A
    A

    Diabetics Benefit From Supplements

    Vitamins Reduce Rates of Colds and Other Infections for Those With Diabetes
    By
    WebMD Health News

    March 3, 2003 -- Although the use of daily multivitamin supplements among well-fed people has long been debated, with studies providing mixed results, new research indicates that the over-the-counter pills can help people with diabetes dramatically reduce their risk of cold, flu, and other infections.

    This study is among the first to look specifically at how vitamin supplements -- regularly consumed by about 40% of Americans -- impact immune function in those with type 2 diabetes, who are more susceptible to various viral and bacterial infections. Along with 51 diabetic patients, researchers also studied self-reported rates of infections in 79 people without diabetes. Everyone in the study was at least 45 years old.

    Among all participants, 43% of those taking daily supplements reported getting sick during the study, compared with 73% of those getting a placebo. In those with diabetes, 93% taking a placebo got sick, compared with only 17% on the active supplements. However, in those without diabetes, there was no measurable difference between supplement- and placebo-takers.

    "The take-home message of our finding suggests that vitamins may be helpful and they may not be, depending on who you are," says researcher Thomas A. Barringer, MD, research director at Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte. "If you have type 2 diabetes, there may be something in the vitamins that seems to replete nutritional deficiencies caused by the disease."

    Researchers have long known that persons with type 1 and type 2 diabetes are more prone to various infections because of impaired immunity.

    "There are probably several factors," says Eugene Barrett, MD, PhD, president-elect of the American Diabetes Association. "High blood sugar seems to impede the way (infection-fighting) white blood cells work so they can't kill bacteria as well as when blood sugar is at normal levels. Studies find that controlling blood sugar makes a big difference in controlling infection."

    Other research suggests that frequent urination causes diabetics to lose nutrients such as zinc and selenium -- key in keeping immunity strong. The supplements used in Barringer's study were higher-than-average in these nutrients, but still close to the formulas in most commercially available products.

    1 | 2 | 3

    Today on WebMD

    Diabetic tools
    Symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, and more.
    woman flexing muscles
    10 strength training exercises.
     
    Blood sugar test
    12 practical tips.
    Tom Hanks
    Stars living with type 1 or type 2.
     
    kenneth fujioka, md
    Video
    Can Vinegar Treat Diabetes
    Article
     
    Middle aged person
    Tool
    jennie brand miller
    Video
     

    Prediabetes How to Prevent Type 2 Diabetes
    Article
    type 2 diabetes
    Slideshow
     
    food fitness planner
    Tool
    feet
    Slideshow