Vitamin E and Beta-Carotene May Help Protect Against Development of Diabetes

BACKGROUND: Several studies have found that people with diabetes often have low blood levels of antioxidants, such as vitamins E and C.

Conversely, some research has found that high dietary intake or supplementation of antioxidants can improve various markers of glucose control.

RESEARCH: Researchers studied 81 men and 101 women who were close relatives of people with type 2 diabetes. Although the subjects were not diabetic, they were considered at increased risk of eventually developing diabetes. Their levels of antioxidants were assessed by dietary intake and blood levels of vitamin E and carotenoids.

RESULTS: In men, higher dietary intake of mixed carotenoids (alpha- and
beta- carotene, and lycopene) was associated with lower fasting glucose levels. Their blood levels of beta-carotene were associated with a lower risk of insulin resistance, a prediabetic sign. In women, higher dietary vitamin E intake was associated with lower fasting blood glucose levels.

IMPLICATIONS: This study showed an association between higher intake of dietary vitamin E and carotenoids and normal glucose control in men. In women, only higher vitamin E intake was associated with normal glucose control.

Ylonen K, Alfthan G, Groop L, et al, "Dietary intakes and plasma concentrations of carotenoids and tocopherols in relation to glucose metabolism in subjects at high risk of type 2 diabetes: the Botnia dietary study." American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2003;77:1434-1441.

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