10 Scientifically Tested Nutrients and Supplements to Heal Diabetic Foot
People with diabetes often develop foot ulcers which can be painful. These are most commonly caused by; poor blood circulation, high blood sugar, Peripheral neuropathy (nerve damage), and wounded feet in diabetics.
Peripheral neuropathy (damage to the nerves located outside of the brain and spinal cord) as the result of diabetes is the prominent reason for foot ulceration in diabetics, which can even lead to amputation. It is a severe and painful chronic complication in type 2 diabetes that needs serious attention.
However, good foot care and incorporation of all essential nutrients in diet or as supplementation can help prevent and cure them.
Here are 10 scientifically proven nutrients and supplements to heal your diabetic foot:
1. Vitamin C
Vitamin C plays a critical role in immune function that needs to be a consideration in foot ulcers because of the ruptured epithelial barrier. It also helps in boosting collagen synthesis and new blood vessels. It also provides tensile strength to new collagen formed which would otherwise be unable to stretch without tearing. In addition, vitamin C is an important antioxidant to eliminate toxins from the body.1
2. Vitamin A
Vitamin A is an essential fat-soluble vitamin that has numerous bodily functions. Dietary vitamin A is absorbed as retinol from either preformed retinoids or provitamin A carotenoids. Retinoids play an important role in wound healing as it is involved in cell mitosis, angiogenesis, increasing epithelial thickness, and collagen synthesis.2
3. Vitamin D
Vitamin D is important for normal skin function. Its deficiency can be an independent risk factor for skin problems and poor wound healing, especially in diabetics. It is also reported to reduce blood glucose levels in type 2 diabetes. Vitamin D can restore the manufacture of antimicrobial peptides in the primary cell from diabetic foot ulcer wounds and progress the in-vitro wound-healing assays.3
4. Vitamin B12
Metformin, a drug used to treat diabetes, impairs the absorption of vitamin B12, thereby creating Vitamin B12 deficiency in the body. This causes diabetic neuropathy which is the root cause of diabetic foot Ulcers.
However, VitaminB12 in food or as supplementation has promising effects on diabetic foot ulcers.4
Zinc supplementation not only restores normal healing rates in diabetics but also improves insulin resistance, lipid profiles, inflammation, and oxidative stress in diabetics. It also increases mature B cells that produce antibodies to strengthen immunity against germs.5 Zinc supplementation of 40 mg/d is recommended to cure wounds and ulcers.
Copper is an essential mineral that helps in protein synthesis and collagen formation during wound healing. Its deficiency can cause impaired wound healing. Copper supplementation will promote the formation of red blood cells and repair diabetic foot ulcers by the formation of elastin. 6
Iron is essential for collagen synthesis in wound healing in diabetics. But the rate of anemia is three times higher in a patient with diabetic feet than in those without diabetic feet. Therefore, iron supplementation is essential for diabetic foot healing.
8. Omega-3 Fatty Acid
Foods containing Omega-3 Fatty acid can potentially reduce blood sugar level and improves insulin sensitivity in diabetics. It also exhibits anti-inflammatory properties and is known to improve diabetic peripheral neuropathy which will eventually heal diabetic foot.7
The probiotics containing good bacteria; Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus casei, Lactobacillus fermentum, and Bifidobacterium bifidum can also improve diabetic ulcers.
Simple amino acid supplements may also improve the healing of diabetic foot wounds via increased collagen production. Supplementation with arginine, glutamine, and beta-hydroxy-beta-methyl butyrate as the treatment of diabetic foot ulcers for minimum of two weeks can help you get rid of it.10
Besides the above nutrients, you can follow these remedies at home to prevent and soothe your diabetic foot ulcer:
- foot baths
- disinfecting the skin around an ulcer
- keeping the ulcer dry with frequent dressing changes
- enzyme treatments
- dressings containing calcium alginates to inhibit bacterial growth
- Applying aloe Vera over the affected area can increase collagen content and thereby stimulate diabetic foot healing.