(NewsUSA) - For people with diabetes, taking a multivitamin every day can mean much more than a little protection against the common cold.
Research is finding that multivitamins can be the first line of defense against many different types of infections, including respiratory infections and influenza.
"Once a person with diabetes gets an infection, it's much harder for them to get rid of it, and it can lead to dire consequences, even death," says Registered and Certified Dietitian-Nutritionist Debra Spector. "And since some diabetic patients don't normally respond well to treatment, prevention is key."
Taking a special diabetes multivitamin -- usually found in the diabetes section of a drugstore, not the vitamin section -- allows a diabetic person to be proactive with their health, and avoid nutrient deficiencies that can lead to problems.
The year-long study among 130 patients, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, found that the incidence of infection was much lower among diabetics who took a multivitamin versus those who did not.
Infection occurred in only 17 percent of diabetic patients who took a multivitamin versus the 93 percent who took a placebo. The study also found that regular multivitamin usage reduced the rate of minor urinary tract and gastrointestinal infections in people with diabetes.
Because of the nature of the disease, it's not uncommon for diabetics to experience nutrient deficiencies. Diabetes medications and frequent urination can lead to the loss of vital nutrients that protect the body.
"Since there are many health risks that can result from vitamin and mineral deficiencies, I encourage my diabetic patients to find a multivitamin supplement with more potent levels of important nutrients to meet their needs," says Spector. "It should contain Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA), an important nutrient that most 'regular' multivitamins do not have. I like Multi-betic Diabetes Multi-Vitamin since it has 23 important nutrients, including ALA, designed to help maintain healthy blood sugar levels, support vision and promote nerve function."