Diabetes! What essential nutrients are risk factors, can be associated with or even cause it?


Blood sugar testing - MSThere are many different essential and non-essential nutrients where a deficiency is associated with diabetes. Some of these factors are common.  Others may be relatively rare.  So which of these should I be taking, in what quantities and for how long?

The answer is, it is very hard to know without doing lab testing.  Find a health care provider who is trained and experienced in clinical nutrition and can perform the necessary diagnostic testing to rule each of the following possible candidates in or out.  Some of the nutrients have multiple tests available which are used in different situations and levels of deficiencies.  You don’t want an inexperienced provider ordering the wrong version of a nutrient test and getting a false negative result. (Where the test says that nutrient is normal, when your levels are actually abnormal.)

It is important to also be aware that starting any of these products may affect your blood sugar levels quite dramatically.  People can go into dangerous low blood sugar situations after starting treatment with the deficient nutrient while still taking diabetes drugs.  If you are on insulin or other diabetes medications, it may be necessary to adjust drug dosages.  When working with any of these products, is very important to monitor your blood sugar levels closely and work with the provider who prescribed the medications. 

Here are some of the essential nutrients that can cause, aggravate or just be associated with diabetes.

  • Zinc
  • Chromium
  • Magnesium
  • Calcium
  • Potassium
  • Vanadyl Sulfate
  • Biotin
  • Vitamin E
  • L-Carnitine
  • Taurine
  • L-Arginine
  • Glutathione
  • Fish oils
  • Coenzyme Q10
  • a-Lipoic Acid

This information is supplied for educational purposes only.  It is not intended to diagnose or treat your individual situation.  That requires working directly with a health care provider.

What is an Essential Nutrient?


Apples - MSThere are many different definitions used for what an essential nutrient is, even between dictionaries and textbooks.  We will be discussing nutrition extensively in the Diagnosis Foundation, so I thought it important to define how we will be using it and comparing it to other similar terms.

Essential Nutrient – This is a specific chemical or element that is required to be eaten, digested and absorbed on a regular basis.  If any of these chemicals become too low in the body, you will either:

  • die
  • be unable to repair from daily injuries
  • be unable to grow or
  • unable to reproduce.

There are approximately 42 essential nutrients that fit this definition.  I say approximately because new essential nutrients are being added to the list on a regular basis. Each potential essential nutrient typically needs to be studied for decades until there is consensus that a specific chemical meets the criteria.  The list of current essential nutrients is given at the end of this post.

Nutrient Category – These are groups of chemicals that many people confuse with essential nutrients!  Each nutrient category include dozens to hundreds of different chemicals that have some type of similarity.  Each nutrient category may contain some chemicals that are essential and some that are not essential.  The basic nutrient categories are:

  • Proteins – amino acids linked together are the building blocks of proteins.  Of the approximately 22 different amino acids common in the human diet, some are essential, while other amino acids are not essential.
  • Carbohydrates – predominantly starches and sugars
  • Lipids – fats, oils and related compounds like triglycerides and cholesterol
  • Vitamins – compounds that are generally co-enzymes for functions in the body. Almost all vitamins are essential.
  • Minerals – Elements from the periodic table that tend to be solid at room temperature.  Some are essential while others are toxic.
  • Other – This is a catch-all category that includes items such as water, oxygen, etc.

Food Groups – These are categories of food that you might typically find at a grocery store.  Typical food groups would be:

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Grains
  • Meats
  • Dairy

It is important to understand that each individual food in each of the food groups typically contain a blend of nutrient categories.  Let’s look at beef within the meat group for example.  Beef contains a relatively large percentage of protein compared to foods in other categories, but they also contain minerals, fats, etc.

Macronutrient Elements –  This refers to minerals that are present in the normal body in relatively large quantities.  Officially, they make up greater than 0.005% of the body.  This would include calcium, chloride, magnesium and a few others.

Micronutrient Elements – This refers to minerals that make up less than 0.005% of the body by weight.  Included here would be chromium, cobalt, copper, iodine, iron, zinc and others.

List of essential nutrients within each nutrient category


  • α-Linolenic acid (ALA)
  • Linoleic acid (LA)
  • Arachidonic acid – required in children

Proteins (listed are the specific amino acids that are essential)

  • Isoleucine
  • Lysine
  • Leucine
  • Methionine
  • Phenylalanine
  • Threonine
  • Tryptophan
  • Valine
  • Histidine
  • Arginine – essential for preterm children:


There are no essential nutrients in the carbohydrate nutrient category for humans.


  • Vitamin A (retinol)
  • Vitamin Bp (choline)
  • Vitamin B1 (thiamin)
  • Vitamin B2 (riboflavin, vitamin G)
  • Vitamin B3 (niacin, vitamin P, vitamin PP)
  • Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid)
  • Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine, pyridoxamine, or pyridoxal)
  • Vitamin B7 (biotin, vitamin H)
  • Vitamin B9 (folic acid, folate, vitamin M)
  • Vitamin B12 (cobalamin)
  • Vitamin C (ascorbic acid)
  • Vitamin D (ergocalciferol, or cholecalciferol)
  • Vitamin E (tocopherol)
  • Vitamin K (naphthoquinoids)


  • Calcium (Ca)
  • Chloride (Cl)
  • Chromium (Cr)
  • Cobalt (Co) (as part of Vitamin B12)
  • Copper (Cu)
  • Iodine (I)
  • Iron (Fe)
  • Magnesium (Mg)
  • Manganese (Mn)
  • Molybdenum (Mo)
  • Phosphorus (P)
  • Potassium (K)
  • Selenium (Se)
  • Sodium (Na)
  • Zinc (Zn)

Have questions? Info@DxFoundation.org