Combine a well-known mineral with a key vitamin for blood sugar control

D is Not for Dairy

For centuries, health care providers have used herbal extracts to help diabetics manage blood sugar levels. In the e-Alert “Thief of Thought” (5/4/09), I featured a few proven formulas that put those herbs to use.

But herbals aren’t the only blood sugar/insulin control helpers. Research shows that combining a well-known mineral with a certain superstar vitamin might make a big difference – especially for those who may be uncomfortably close to a type 2 diabetes diagnosis.

Breaking the link

Dairy product intake has been linked to reduced risk of type 2 diabetes. Past studies have shown that this protection is probably due to a combination of Calcium and vitamin D.

But if you remove the dairy product and get the vitamin and the mineral from other dietary sources and supplements, what then? Could there be a component of the dairy product that D and calcium require in order to deliver blood sugar control benefits?

To answer this question, a team from the Harvard School of Public Health used data gathered from the Nurses’ Health Study and the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study. Data included intake of dairy products, total calcium, and vitamin D, along with blood levels of vitamin D in relation to fasting levels of C-peptide (an insulin measurement).

Data analysis produced these results:

* In men with the highest blood levels of vitamin D, C-peptide concentrations were 20 percent lower compared to men with the lowest D levels (this benefit didn’t occur among women)
* In subjects with the highest calcium intake, C-peptide concentrations were 20 percent lower in women and 17 percent lower in men compared to subjects with the lowest calcium intake
* In subjects with the combined highest calcium intake and highest blood levels of vitamin D, C-peptide concentrations were 35 percent lower in men and 12 percent lower in women

As for the dairy question, results showed no specific link between high dairy intake and improved insulin resistance.

No Moustache zone

It’s been awhile since I’ve featured health issues associated with milk intake. So for those who are relative newcomers to the e-Alert this may come as a surprise: Drinking a couple of glasses of commercial milk every day may actually have adverse effects on your health.

In an e-Alert I sent you nearly eight years ago, HSI Panelist Allan Spreen, M.D., explained that cultured dairy products (kefir, yogurt) and enzymatically altered products (cheese, etc.) are acceptable in moderation. But he noted several reasons why highly processed milk is unhealthy, including:

* Calcium in milk is not well absorbed (and even less so once homogenized)
* The heating process of pasteurization destroys important enzymes
* Antibodies the body makes to digest milk are closely related to the antibodies that destroy islet cells (insulin producers) in the pancreas in cases of juvenile diabetes
* Commercial milk contains traces of pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers, antibiotics, and bovine growth hormone

As for those “strong bones” claims made by the dairy industry, a Harvard investigation of 12 years of data from the Nurses’ Health Study showed that a high intake of commercial milk appeared to actually increase the risk of bone fractures.

You’ll find a much more detailed lowdown on the perils of milk consumption in Dr. William Campbell Douglass’ book “The Raw Truth About Milk,” which is available on

“Plasma C-Peptide Is Inversely Associated with Calcium Intake in Women and with Plasma 25-Hydroxy Vitamin D in Men” Journal of Nutrition, Vol. 139, No. 3, March 2009,