Poor blood glucose control can lead to blood vessel and nerve cell damage in diabetics and the only known way to prevent this is to maintain healthy blood glucose levels, and even this does not always work. A recent research team, however, has found that combining insulin with vitamin C stops blood vessel damage in type 1 diabetics.
Type 1 diabetics require insulin to maintain healthy blood glucose levels, which limits the risk of blood vessel damage, but insulin itself does not battle or stop blood vessel damage. In fact, some past research has demonstrated that once blood vessel damage begins in type 1 diabetics, it continues, even when blood glucose is properly controlled.
Blood vessel damage, or endothelial dysfunction, results mostly from oxidative stress, and is a major reason that diabetics are at an incredibly high risk for cardiovascular disease. Oxidative stress in diabetics is also closely linked to neuropathy, retinopathy, and resulting pain, amputations and blindness.
Vitamin C is an essential nutrient for all humans, and protects against numerous ailments, from common colds, to scurvy. Its anti-oxidant properties are what help in battling oxidative stress. Many citrus fruits, especially oranges, contain large amounts of vitamin C, as well as kiwi, broccoli, papaya, and many other fruits and vegetables. The following conclusions regarding vitamin C mixed with insulin are believed to be applicable to other anti-oxidants as well.
Based on past successful research models that showed a combination of insulin and antioxidants helped stop cell and blood vessel damage, the current research applied this treatment to type 1 diabetics with previously poor blood glucose control, and resulting blood vessel damage. Their blood vessel damage had been progressing, even with proper insulin treatment, but when this treatment was mixed with vitamin C, the results were very encouraging. Says principal investigator, Dr. Michael Ihnat, “We had tested this theory on research models, but this is the first time anyone has shown the therapy’s effectiveness in people.”
The patients were observed to have no improvement to the progression of their blood vessel damage by solely taking vitamin C, as well, since the poor blood glucose control led to strong levels of oxidative stress, uncontrollable by vitamin C. So a combination of insulin and vitamin C is the clear conclusion of the researchers. “For patients with diabetes, this means simply getting their glucose under control is not enough. An antioxidant-based therapy combined with glucose control will give patients more of an advantage and lessen the chance of complications with diabetes,” says Dr. Ihnat. The findings of this study essentially translate to a rather logical recommendation: maintain healthy blood glucose levels with insulin, and consume foods and supplements high in antioxidants, which have themselves been shown to be very beneficial to individuals suffering from diabetes and cardiovascular problems.
Source: Defeat Diabetes Foundation: Ihnat, Michael. Clay, Diane. University of Oklahoma news release. June 2009.