The Best Multivitamins for Diabetics

Diabetes is a condition in which your body cannot effectively use glucose for energy, and thus excess glucose stays in the blood, leading to high-blood sugar, or hyperglycemia. Diabetics are twice as likely to develop heart disease as those who aren't diabetic. Most type-2 diabetics follow a weight-loss diet, and multivitamin supplementation may be beneficial. If you have diabetes, talk with your doctor about supplementation.

Vitamins Associated With Diabetes

Diabetics tend to have lower vitamin C levels, possibly because higher blood-glucose levels impair vitamin C uptake, according to the Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston. A supplementation of 2,000 mg may help improve blood-glucose and lipid levels. Vitamin E may help prevent heart, eye and kidney damage, which is a common complication of diabetes. Chromium has been reported to have a mild glucose-lowering effect and is often recommended for people with type-2 diabetes. Diabetics, especially type-1 diabetics may also be deficient in vitamin D. A supplemental dose may improve use of glucose and bone health. Research at the University of Melbourne in Australia found that lycopene and lutein levels are lower in diabetics, and supplementation could improve improve vision and decrease risks of diabetic eye disease. Omega-3 fatty acid supplementation of 1 g daily can protect against heart disease.

Choosing the Best Multivitamin

A good multivitamin should have 50 percent to 150 percent of the daily value for each vitamin and mineral. It should have at least 15 kinds of vitamins and minerals, including: vitamin A, B-complex -- riboflavin, thiamine, niacin, folic acid, B6 and B12 -- vitamins C, D, E, K, chromium, iron, copper, zinc, calcium, magnesium, selenium. Diabetics should look for multivitamins labeled "Diabetes Health Pack." These multivitamins often have more chromium, lutein and lycopene for additional eye protection. Also, look for supplements with omega-3 fatty acids for heart protection.

Dietary Reference Intake

The Institute of Medicine says that the adult dietary reference intake varies, depending on age, gender and certain conditions such as pregnancy. Although there is no established DRI for patients with diabetes, your dietitian can evaluate your diet and make specific recommendations. For men, the general recommendations are: 900 mcg of vitamin A, 1.3 mg of riboflavin, 1.2 mg of thiamine, 1.3 to 1.7 mg of B6, 16 mg of niacin, 400 IU of folic acid, 400 mcg of B12, 90 mg of vitamin C, 600 to 800 IU of vitamin D, 15 mg of vitamin E, 120 mcg of vitamin K, 35 mcg of chromium, 6 mg of iron, 700 mcg of copper, 9.4 mg of zinc, 800 to 1,000 mg of calcium, 350 mg of magnesium and 45 mcg of selenium. Women should get the same amounts of B6, folic acid, B12, vitamins D and E, copper, calcium and selenium. The other recommendations for women are: 700 mcg of vitamin A, 1.1 mg of riboflavin and thiamine, 14 mg of niacin, 75 mg of vitamin C, 90 mcg of vitamin K, 25 mcg of chromium, 8.1 mg of iron, 6.8 mg of zinc, and 265 mg of magnesium.


Intake of vitamins and minerals in pill form should not replace eating a balanced diet. Phytochemicals in foods interact with these micronutrients to enhance their effectiveness. Also, it is very easy to overdose on vitamin supplements, which could become toxic or interfere with your medications. Always check with a health-care provider to find the one that fits your needs.

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