The Basic 6 Vitamins and Minerals for Diabetes

by David Mendosa Patient Advocate

Research shows that many people who have diabetes can benefit from taking certain vitamin and mineral supplements, especially older adults as well as those who don’t eat a balanced diet including vegetables, fish, and meat or have abnormal blood glucose or weight. Here are some important ones to consider.


Multivitamin-mineral supplements

Unfortunately, the people who have the worst diet are the least likely to take these supplements. And people with diabetes who take a multivitamin-mineral capsule every day often don’t give much thought to their vitamin and mineral needs. If you are taking a multivitamin, make sure that it doesn’t interact or interfere with another supplement or even a prescription.


Vitamin D

Besides keeping our bones healthy, vitamin D has many vital functions. For people with diabetes, it plays a crucial role in controlling glucose levels. Research has shown that vitamin D deficiency can play a role in insulin resistance. Older adults, who can’t make vitamin D efficiently from the sun, and overweight people, who carry excess body fat that prevents it from getting into the blood, may have even more of a reason to supplement it.

Vitamin B12

Up to 30 percent of the people who take metformin may have low vitamin B12 levels. Vitamin B12 can also lessen the pain of neuropathy, one of the most common complications of diabetes. Like people with diabetes, vegetarians and vegans may also be at risk for B12 deficiency because it’s found mostly in animal foods and dairy products. And for older adults, low vitamin B12 levels may cause memory loss.


Thiamin (Vitamin B1)

Compared to people who don’t have diabetes, those with type 1 or type 2 diabetes are more likely to have lower blood levels of thiamin, along with a higher risk of thiamin deficiency, according to the U.S. Office of Dietary Supplements. Another study found that benfotiamine, a derivative of thiamin, may reduce the pain of diabetic neuropathy.



Few Americans get enough magnesium. And for people with type 2 diabetes, especially older adults or those following a very low-carb diet, chances are even higher that they’re not getting enough. People who have a healthy intake of magnesium have a lower risk of diabetes because it helps the body break down sugar. Low blood levels of magnesium can increase insulin resistance, which leads to diabetes.



Iodine assists in metabolism and is essential for thyroid function. An iodine deficiency can cause weight gain, fatigue, and more. Iodine is added to most salt, but people on low-salt diets and people who use sea salt often don’t get enough iodine in their diet. “Iodine is not optional,” writes cardiologist William Davis in Wheat Belly.



Many people are not getting enough zinc with deficiencies especially common among older adults. Diabetes itself is associated with zinc deficiency. Zinc supplementation may be effective if your diet is lacking in adequate sources of zinc


Further resources

The “Dietary Supplement Fact Sheets,” provided by the Office of Dietary Supplements at the U.S. National Institutes of Health, is a key resource. You may also want to consult with your own doctor. If you’re taking supplemental vitamins or minerals now or are deciding about adding any, you need to review the data to better understand how much to take, which can vary depending on your age, diet, and health.

David Mendosa
Meet Our Writer
David Mendosa

David Mendosa was a journalist who learned in 1994 that he had type 2 diabetes, which he wrote about exclusively. He died in May 2017 after a short illness unrelated to diabetes. He wrote thousands of diabetes articles, two books about it, created one of the first diabetes websites, and published a monthly newsletter, “Diabetes Update.” His very low-carbohydrate diet, A1C level of 5.3, and BMI of 19.8 kept his diabetes in remission without any drugs until his death.