Diabetes mellitus (DM) is a chronic medical disorder that is assuming pandemic proportions. In 1985, an estimated 100-115 million people were affected, as at Year 2000, this figure rose to 151million and in the Year 2025, an all time high figure of 300million is expected.
The global increase in DM is poised to occur unfortunately more in developing countries like Nigeria. Nigeria like most dev countries is experiencing a rapid epidemiological transition with the burden of NCDs especially DM and Hypertension which are poised to overwhelm the healthcare system that is already overburdened by HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria.
In Nigeria, DM related admissions make up 15% of all medical admissions and the commonly documented reasons for DM hospitalizations include poor glycaemic control/hyperglycaemic emergencies and foot ulcers. 1 in 6 cases of DM admissions result in death and the commonest causes of DM deaths are hyperglycaemic emergencies (46%) and DM related foot ulcers (30%).
Although it may take many years for complications of diabetes to show up, in Nigeria, these complications occur at the time of diagnosis of the disease in 25% of this group of people. Although this list is far from complete, the more common complications of uncontrolled blood sugar levels include:
- Heart disease – stroke, hypertension, heart attack, atherosclerosis
- Eye problems – blindness, cataracts, glaucoma
- Kidney disease
- Gum disease
- Limb amputation
The management of DM includes life style modification (exercise, adoption of healthy eating habits) and use of glucose lowering medications (oral drugs and insulin injections). Supplementation with vitamins is also a useful adjunct in the management of DM.
ALPHABETIC & DIABETES MELLITUS
People with diabetes have specific nutritional needs which may not be completely fulfilled from the average multivitamin or from diet alone. Managing diabetic nutrition requires a daily dose of balance and replenishment to help restore diabetes-related nutrient deficiencies.
AlphaBetic is a supplement commonly prescribed for persons with diabetes mellitus. AlphaBetic is made up of vitamins E and C, Lutein and Alpha lipoic acid. The important functions of the components of Alpha lipoic acid are as listed below;
Vitamin C: The complications of Diabetes Mellitus are believed to result from hyperglycemia either via the intracellular accumulation of sorbitol or via the glycosylation of proteins or through both of these mechanisms operating in tandem. The Diabetes Control and Complications Trial demonstrated that substantial clinical benefits can be expected from an adherence to “tight” glycemic control. Adjunct therapies are proposed for the augmentation of tight glucose control. Among those therapies, strong evidence supported the likely efficacy of vitamin C supplementation.
Studies have shown that Vitamic C supplementation in conjunction with glucose lowering medication improved glycaemic control in persons with DM. Vitamin C is usually devoid of side effects and this makes it a particularly attractive therapeutic adjuvant in the treatment of type 2 DM.
Vitamin E: This important vitamin has been shown to reduce the risk of developing cardiac diseases in people with diabetes mellitus
Lutein: Cataracts and increased susceptibility to frequent and protracted infections may occur in persons with poorly controlled diabetes mellitus. Researchers have found that lutein is not only a potential candidate for the reduction of susceptibility to infections of diabetic patient but also protects against the development of cataract.
Alphalipoic acid: Alpha lipoic acid is a fatty acid which is used by every cell in the body and serves as an antioxidant that is also effective in the management of diabetic neuropathy. Diabetic neuropathy is damage to nerves that occurs as a result of diabetes. Diabetes is thought to damage nerves as a result of prolonged elevated levels of blood glucose.
Different types of diabetic neuropathy include peripheral neuropathy, focal neuropathy, autonomic neuropathy, and proximal neuropathy.
The common symptoms of peripheral neuropathy include pain, burning, tingling, and numbness of the feet and lower legs.
Diagnosis of diabetic neuropathy is usually done by a clinical exam.
There is no cure for diabetic neuropathy, but treatments are available to manage the symptoms and one of these is alphabetic. The use of alphabetic in the treatment of this DM complication is as a result of the alpha lipoic acid component.
By Dr. Anthonia Ogbera, Associate Professor of Medicine, Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, Ikeja, Lagos