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A regular beta-carotene intake may help to prevent diabetes

December 11, 2013

A moderate intake of beta-carotene seems to reduce oxidative stress, which can promote diabetes, in healthy adults and diabetes type 2 patients, suggests a new study from Venezuela.

In the study, blood samples of 117 non-smoking type 2 diabetic and healthy participants who received 6 mg beta-carotene daily for 45 days or no supplementation were analyzed for parameters of oxidative balance and antioxidant plasma capacity (1). The study results showed that, compared to the non-supplemented participants, diabetic and healthy individuals with elevated beta-carotene intakes had a significantly improved oxidative balance (diminution in the generation of reactive oxygen species) and a tendentially increased antioxidant defense (plasma capacity). The changes were still present one month after finishing the supple- mentation.

The researchers concluded that beta-carotene rich foods or supplements should be part of the prevention and/or treatment strategies in type 2 diabetes. The fact that small doses of beta-carotene produced favor- able effects motivates the researchers to design further studies with different times and doses in order to improve the achieved effects, but also to issue nutritional recommendations to diabetics through the daily consumption of the carotenoid. Moreover, the antioxidant effect described in supplemented healthy indivi- duals makes it possible to think of a preventive or protective effect against illnesses generally generated or propagated by oxidative imbalance, the scientists noted.

With regard to diabetes, several mechanisms have been reported to increase the production of pro-oxidants and to alter the generation and activity of enzymatic and non-enzymatic antioxidants. Studies about the role of antioxidant beta-carotene in diabetes have shown a decrease in serum concentrations of the carotenoid in diabetics, as well as a decreased risk of disease associated to both high consumption and serum levels of beta-carotene (2). Regarding beta-carotene supplementation in diabetes, there are no clear results due to methodological aspects such as combinations with other antioxidants, the duration of supplementation and the doses used that varied widely (3).

References

  1. Moreno J. et al. Low dose beta-carotene supplementation diminishes oxidative stress in type 2 diabetics and healthy individuals. Am J Clin Nutr. Journal of Pharmacy and Nutrition Sciences. 2013; 3:206–214.
  2. Sugiura M. et al. The homeostasis model assessment insulin resistance index is inversely associated with serum carotenoids in non-diabetic subjects. J Epidemiol. 2006; 16(2):71–78.
  3. Song Y. et al. Effects of vitamins C and E and beta-carotene on the risk of type 2 diabetes in women at high risk of cardiovascular disease: a randomized controlled trial. Am J Clin Nutr. 2009; 90:429–437.