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Endocrine. 2010 Oct;38(2):221-6. doi: 10.1007/s12020-010-9377-6. Epub 2010 Jul 17.

No effect of bicarbonate treatment on insulin sensitivity and glucose control in non-diabetic older adults.

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Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University, 711 Washington St., Boston, MA 02111, USA.


Chronic mild metabolic acidosis is common among older adults, and limited evidence suggests that it may contribute to insulin resistance and type-2 diabetes. This analysis was conducted to determine whether bicarbonate supplementation, an alkalinizing treatment, improves insulin sensitivity or glucose control in non-diabetic older adults. Fasting blood glucose and insulin were measured in stored samples from subjects who had completed a 3-month clinical trial of bicarbonate supplementation to improve indicators of bone and muscle health. One hundred and fifty three ambulatory, non-diabetic adults aged 50 years and older were studied. Subjects were randomized to one of two bicarbonate groups (67.5 mmol/day of potassium bicarbonate or sodium bicarbonate) or to one of two no-bicarbonate groups (67.5 mmol/day of placebo or potassium chloride). Subjects remained on treatment throughout the 3-month study. The primary outcome measures were changes in fasting plasma glucose, serum insulin and HOMA-IR, an index of insulin resistance. Bicarbonate supplementation reduced net acid excretion (adjusted mean±SEM for the change in NAE/creatinine, mmol/mmol, was 0.23±0.22 in the no-bicarbonate group compared with -3.53±0.22 in the bicarbonate group, P<0.001) but had no effect on fasting plasma glucose, serum insulin, or HOMA-IR. In conclusion, bicarbonate supplementation does not appear to improve insulin sensitivity or glucose control in non-diabetic older adults.


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