Can vitamin C help Type 2 Diabetes?

Executive summary

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Dr Peter Brukner is one of my top senders of papers to dissect and he sent a very interesting one in February 2019, when I was busy with statins in the over 75s. I didn’t want to miss the topic, so I have returned to it for this week’s post.

The story was covered widely in Australia, but not elsewhere. One Australian news channel declared “Vitamin C helps type 2 diabetes.” The news bulletin reported this as “for 1.2 million Australians with type 2 diabetes, this is incredibly good news… vitamin C could be the key to dramatically improving their health… this could be the simple and cheap solution that many people are looking for” (Ref 1).

The study                                                             

The study was conducted by five researchers, four of whom were from Deakin University, Victoria, Australia and the fifth was from the Netherlands. This would explain the Australian interest (Ref 2).

The study was a randomised cross-over trial. This is a good design and can establish causation, not just association. We’re more familiar with randomised controlled trials. A cross-over trial means that all participants were randomly assigned to either the intervention or the control, but then they swapped over so that the control group then did the intervention and vice versa. This is especially powerful in small studies, as it can’t be claimed that the people most likely to respond well to the intervention happened to end up in the intervention group by chance.


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