~ Antioxidant Vitamins Help Insulin Treat Diabetes

A study conducted at the University of California Irvine College of Medicine revealed that the antioxidant vitamins C and E, when combined with insulin therapy in diabetic rats, enhanced insulin's blood sugar-lowering effect and helped protect the animals' organs from damage. While insulin successfully treats elevated blood sugar, complications such as heart disease and nerve, liver and kidney damage are seen in many diabetic patients. The report was published in the January 2003 issue of the journal Kidney International.

The researchers, led by professor of medicine Dr Nick Vaziri, found that diabetes, left untreated, resulted in hypertension and increased free radical production, which converted sugars and proteins into harmful compounds, leading to tissue damage. When rats in whom diabetes was induced were treated with insulin alone, blood pressure was lowered to a degree and the free radical attack on sugars and proteins lessened, however free radical attack on nitric oxide was significantly increased. Nitric oxide is found throughout the body and offers protection against free radicals. When the compound is subjected to free radical attack, it results in even greater damage.

When vitamins C and E were administered with insulin, blood sugar was lowered, and sugars and proteins as well as nitric oxide were protected from free radical attack. Dr Vaziri explained, "Blood pressure was lowered to normal, and free radicals were not in sufficient numbers to degrade the sugars, proteins and nitric oxide. We think this shows that a diet rich in antioxidants may help diabetics prevent the devastating cardiovascular, kidney, neurological and other damage that are common complications of diabetes."

The researchers recommend the regimen be tested in humans.

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