Supplementing Your Meal Plan

Supplementing Your Meal Plan


Our bodies use vitamins and minerals to perform basic functions, such as building bone and muscle. If you eat a variety of healthy foods that include vegetables, fruits, whole grains and low-fat dairy products, you’ll be more likely to meet your body’s needs for vitamins and minerals.

The American Diabetes Association (ADA) doesn’t advise people with diabetes to take specific vitamins or minerals, but you may need to do so if you are unable to get what you need each day from food, or if any of the special needs or concerns in the box to the right apply to you.

Smoking or drinking alcohol regularly?

Smoking increases the body’s need for vitamin C and vitamin E. It may also make it harder for calcium supplements to protect the body’s bones.

Alcohol can make it more difficult for your body to absorb and use certain nutrients, such as vitamins A, D and E.

3 keys to keep your body healthy

1. Know your meds. Some prescription medicines, if taken on a regular basis, make it harder for your body to absorb or use certain nutrients. The diabetes medicine metformin, for example, can lower your ability to absorb vitamin B12. Many blood pressure and heart disease medications can interact with nutrients, as well. Ask your healthcare provider if any of your medicines affects your nutritional needs and if you should be taking a supplement.

2. Eat a balanced diet to get all the nutrients you need. Many people with diabetes cut way back on their carbohydrate intake. While  eating fewer carbohydrates may make it easier to control blood glucose levels, you may not get enough of the other important  nutrients your body needs for good health. Carbohydrate-rich foods provide energy as well as many nutrients, including vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. It’s fine to limit the amount of carbohydrate-rich foods you eat, such as pasta, fruits, starchy vegetables, milk and yogurt, but don’t cut them out altogether. A dietitian can help you choose healthy, carbohydrate-rich foods that won’t negatively affect your blood glucose control. Vegetarians who don’t eat any animal products may need to take zinc, calcium, vitamin B12 and vitamin D supplements.

3. Get enough Vitamin D. Research shows that people who have low levels of vitamin D are more at risk for heart attacks and heart disease. One way to increase your body’s vitamin D level is to spend 10 minutes in the sun, three times a week, without  sunscreen. As we age, our skin has a harder time producing vitamin D. If you are older, you may need to take vitamin D supplements.

By Janis Roszler, MS, RD, LD/N, CDE, FAND

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