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January 9, 2009 at 1:26 PMComments: 0 Faves: 0

Vitamin E May Help Reduce Diabetes Risk

By Smarty More Blogs by This Author

The American Diabetes Association has found that over 20 million Americans have diabetes, a condition characterized by inefficient use or production of insulin and the damaging effects of chronically high blood sugar. The list of complications resulting from uncontrolled diabetes is a long one, including damage to the liver, kidney and eyes. Another 54 million Americans are considered "pre-diabetic" and without significant lifestyle changes are likely to develop this expensive and dangerous condition. Recent hope for help controlling both the development and progression of diabetes has come in the form of a familiar nutrient: Vitamin E.

Risks Associated with Chronically High Blood Sugar

The chronically high blood sugar of uncontrolled diabetes wreaks havoc on the body by binding with proteins in the blood, impairing their function, and causing the destruction of the blood vessel lining, particularly in tiny blood vessels called capillaries. Damage to the arteries in major organs like the liver, heart, kidneys, and eye can lead to their failure. Extensive capillary damage in the extremities (arms, legs, fingers, and toes) is also responsible for the amputation required in many diabetes cases.

Free Radicals and Oxidative Damage

The majority, if not all, of the tissue damage caused by unregulated blood sugar is the result of oxidation, a chemical reaction which involves a loss of electrons. You may have heard about the dangers of free radicals and how antioxidants can neutralize them. Free radicals are essentially electron-hungry (and therefore reactive) molecules which steal electrons from (i.e. oxidize) any cell they come in contact with. Free radical production can't really be helped: they're a natural byproduct of metabolism within the body. A diet with sufficient antioxidants can usually keep free radical populations in control.

Vitamin E Helps Prevent Tissue Damage

Those with diabetes are disadvantaged when it comes to battling free radicals since high blood sugar creates such an excess of them. Vitamin E is an antioxidant and as such can prevent oxidation by binding to free radicals.

Diabetes Prevention

One study followed over 4000 men and women, none of whom had diabetes at the start of the study - between the ages of 40 and 69 for 20 years. At the end of the study, those who incorporated the largest amounts of vitamin E in their diets were 30% less likely to develop diabetes in comparison to those who incorporated the least amount. Taking Vitamin E supplements has also been shown to lower alanine transferase levels, an enzyme in the liver whose elevation has been associated with increased diabetes risk. Vitamin E is found naturally in foods like green leafy vegetables, nuts, vegetable oils, and fortified cereals. Vitamin E can also be acquired by taking a supplement. It's an easy way to both help limit the damage of diabetes. Sources:

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