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Pediatrician. 1983-1985;12(4):213-9.

The role of trace elements in juvenile diabetes mellitus.


There is accumulating evidence that the metabolism of several trace elements is altered in insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus and that these nutrients might have specific roles in the pathogenesis and progress of this disease. Magnesium deficiency is the most evident disturbance of metal metabolism in diabetes mellitus. Hypomagnesemia might increase the risk of ischemic heart disease and severe retinopathy. Increased urinary loss of zinc is a commonly encountered feature of diabetes. High-dose oral zinc might enhance wound healing, although data regarding diabetes are lacking. Chromium increases tissue sensitivity to insulin and tends to raise high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol and the HDL:low-density lipoprotein ratio. Selenium is involved in processes which protect the cell against oxidative damage by peroxides produced from lipid metabolism. There is one report of elevated serum selenium in diabetic children although the clinical significance of this finding is still unclear. An insulin-like effect has recently been attributed to vanadium in experimental animals, a finding of potential interest to man. Current knowledge does not implicate iron, iodine, manganese, cobalt, nickel, silicone, fluoride, molybdenum or tin in the pathophysiology of diabetes. Appropriate trace element supplementation might prove beneficial in ameliorating some physiological deficiencies associated with diabetes and prevent or retard secondary complications. However, properly designed and well-documented trials, especially on magnesium supplementation, need to be performed before rationales for such supplementation are developed. The potential roles of vanadium, chromium and selenium in diabetes constitute challenging areas for further experimental and clinical research.

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