Nutrient Losses Cause Diabetic Complications

Nutrient Losses Cause Diabetic Complications

Julian Whitaker, MD

Diabetes is a nutritional wasting disease. The elevated blood sugar levels that characterize diabetes cause excessive urination. The root words of diabetes mellitus come from the Greek meaning to pass through and sweet or honey. High blood sugar, whether it’s caused by insufficient insulin or insulin resistance (type 1 or type 2 diabetes, respectively), overwhelms the kidneys’ capacity to reabsorb glucose and all other water-soluble nutrients.

Every time the blood sugar rises and urination increases, the diabetic patient loses water, magnesium, zinc, B12, B6, folic acid, and many other nutrients. Although water is replaced by drinking, nothing is done to replenish the water-soluble nutrients that are also swept out. The diabetic condition demands that these nutrients be replenished—and in large supply—to prevent the devastation that comes from nutritional deficiencies.

Yet of the 15,000-plus patients with diabetes who have been treated at the Whitaker Wellness Institute since we opened in 1979, I do not recall a single one whose conventional physician had put him or her on a nutritional supplement regimen to counteract these inevitable losses.

If You Waste It, Replace It

As a result of the continual nutritional losses that occur in people with diabetes, body parts simply fall off. Diabetes is our number one cause of blindness, amputation, and kidney failure, and it dramatically increases the risk of both heart attack and stroke. I submit that if you were to give a healthy person an osmotic diuretic every day and did not replace nutrients, you would produce the same complications suffered by diabetics. Let’s examine some of these losses and their consequences.

Magnesium. Excessive urination washes out magnesium. Low magnesium levels are present in 25 percent of diabetics, and even those with levels considered to be “high” for diabetics don’t reach the average levels of the non-diabetic population.

As magnesium levels decrease, glucose control deteriorates because magnesium is essential to normal carbohydrate metabolism. Low levels are associated with diabetic retinopathy, and diabetics with the lowest magnesium levels have the greatest risk of going blind. Low magnesium is also associated with high blood pressure as well as cardiovascular disease.

Magnesium is involved in glucose transfer across cell membranes and it improves insulin sensitivity and glucose control as well. Shouldn’t all people with diabetes be taking supplemental magnesium?

Zinc. Zinc is another water-soluble nutrient that is flushed from the body, and as a result, many diabetics have low zinc levels. This deficiency may impair the immune system, particularly T-cell function, which could lead to more infections and non-healing ulcers. Zinc deficiency also can cause hair loss as well as diarrhea, which triggers further nutrient losses still. Shouldn’t all people with diabetes be taking supplemental zinc?

B complex vitamins. B6, B12, and folic acid are water-soluble and therefore vulnerable to loss via excessive urination from diabetes. This leads to increased homocysteine levels and dramatically increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

Low levels of B6 can cause glucose intolerance, depression, cracked lips, and dry skin. A B12 deficiency may have no obvious symptoms at first, but over time it can produce mental disturbances, anemia, and impaired nerve function. A lack of folic acid may bring on depression, forgetfulness, insomnia, irritability, and fatigue. Shouldn’t all people with diabetes be taking supplemental B vitamins?

Antioxidants. Both type 1 and type 2 diabetics are routinely low in virtually all of the water-soluble antioxidants, and type 2 diabetics are often low in fat-soluble vitamins A and E. At the same time, high blood sugar causes severe oxidative stress, which consumes whatever antioxidants are available. If antioxidants are not liberally replaced, then free radical damage is accelerated.

Vitamin C is a water-soluble antioxidant and vulnerable to urinary losses as well as poor cellular uptake. Blood cell levels of vitamin C are often substantially decreased in diabetics. As you probably know, severe vitamin C deficiency causes scurvy, which leads to bleeding gums, bruising, and poor wound healing. Furthermore, lack of vitamin C is linked with susceptibility to infection. Shouldn’t all people with diabetes be taking supplemental vitamin C and other antioxidants?

Glucose Control Won’t Solve the Problem

I don’t believe there is a single essential micronutrient that is not either wasted or used up in patients with diabetes. Not one. And the consequences of this fact are obvious.

Good glucose control reduces urinary losses of micronutrients as well as the other stresses of the diabetic condition. However, it does not eliminate them, because even under good control there are regular periods of high blood sugar. This point is missed entirely by virtually every conventional physician. Focusing on glucose control alone simply leads to devastation for the diabetic patient, and even those with good control still go blind and suffer amputations.

At the Whitaker Wellness Institute, we intervene with aggressive nutritional replacement to counter these losses. As a result, we can often mitigate these complications and prevent future occurrences.


  • It is imperative that everyone with diabetes take a comprehensive, high-dose daily multivitamin and mineral supplement to compensate for nutritional losses. Recommended daily doses of individual nutrients are as follows: magnesium (500-750 mg), vitamin B6 (100-150 mg), vitamin B12 (200-300­ mcg), folic acid (800-1,200 mcg), vitamin C (minimum of 1,000 mg), and vitamin E (400-800 IU).
  • Look for these supplements in your health food store, online, or order by calling (800) 810-6655.
  • To learn more about the Whitaker Wellness Institute’s safe, natural approach to treating diabetes, contact a Patient Services Representative at (866) 944-8253 or click here.

Modified from Health & Healing with permission from Healthy Directions, LLC. Copyright 2007. Photocopying, reproduction, or quotation strictly prohibited without written permission from the publisher. To subscribe to Health & Healingclick here.

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