Science Update

Recent Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis Explores Potential Link Between Certain Micronutrients and Glucose Metabolism

Evidence suggests that some changes in blood sugar metabolism have been linked with certain micronutrient deficiencies. Trace elements may play an important role in healthy glucose metabolism by helping to transport glucose across cell membranes and by helping to modulate insulin sensitivity.

A recently published systematic review and meta-analysis by Xia and colleagues investigated the potential connection between certain micronutrients and glucose metabolism. Xia and colleagues included a total of 170 studies that involved more than 14,000 adults and assessed the potential efficacy of certain trace elements, vitamins, and minerals. The authors report that reduced magnesium status has been associated with an increased risk of developing certain cardiometabolic conditions. This is believed to occur through the impairment of tyrosine kinase activity under conditions involving diminished intracellular magnesium.

Studies indicate that chromium may help support certain biochemical processes related to insulin sensitivity and may help support normal glucose tolerance. It is believed that chromium helps regulate glucose homeostasis by activating insulin receptors through specific oligopeptide signaling.

Reported as part of the meta-analysis findings of Xia and colleagues, chromium was found to be the highest ranked in helping to reduce fasting blood glucose levels and Homeostatic Model Assessment for Insulin Resistance (HOMA-IR) levels. Vitamin K was similarly ranked for its potential efficacy in modulating hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) levels and fasting insulin levels.

Certain cardiometabolic conditions may also be influenced by oxidative stress. Selenium has been shown to help protect against oxidative damage by helping to increase superoxide dismutase and glutathione peroxidase levels. Selenate, a form of selenium, has been shown to help maintain blood sugar homeostasis by acting as an insulin mimetic. Selenoprotein P has also been shown to help support pancreatic beta-cell function through several different pathways. However, the authors of this meta-analysis note that current evidence related to selenium supplementation and glucose metabolism is conflicting, which will require more research before clinical conclusions can be made.

Xia and colleagues also discuss the roles of certain vitamins in glucose metabolism. In their meta-analysis, vitamin E was shown to help support certain aspects of metabolic health. Vitamin E is believed to support antioxidative status and help inhibit late glycosylation end-product formation. Vitamin D has been linked to changes in glucose metabolism. Niacin (vitamin B3) has also been researched for its potential to support certain aspects of metabolic health.

Research indicates that approximately 70% of individuals with prediabetes may develop diabetes. Certain lifestyle changes and micronutrients have been shown to potentially help promote and maintain metabolic health. Micronutrients, such as magnesium, support health through many biochemical functions. Micronutrients can act as cofactors for enzymatic reactions, assist in cell signaling, and help stabilize cellular structures. They may also help support the body’s response to oxidative stress and help promote healthy glucose metabolism.

By Dr. C. Ambrose, ND, MAT