9 Nutrients for Blood Sugar Balance

9 Nutrients for Blood Sugar Balance

A balanced whole-food diet, stress management, sleep and regular exercise are the pillars of blood sugar balance, but, focusing on certain nutrients can help provide additional support. Awareness over which nutrients to focus on becomes important for any women wishing to balance their hormones.  This is especially true for women struggling with PMS and PMDD, metabolic conditions such as thyroid imbalances and PCOS as well as women entering into menopause. Here are the top 9 nutrients involved in blood sugar regulation.

Protein: Protein is needed to help offset the blood sugar spike from carbohydrates. When consumed, proteins are broken down into amino acids, which are absorbed more slowly than carbohydrates, resulting in a gradual release of glucose into the bloodstream. This moderates the rise in blood sugar levels after a meal, promoting a more balanced and sustained energy supply. For blood sugar specifically aim for 20-30g protein with each meal and a total of 60-100g daily unless very active or pregnant in which case more protein is needed (1).  Plant-based foods highest in protein include legumes such as soy foods, tofu, beans, lentils, peas and nuts and seeds. Animal based foods like meats, eggs and dairy are highest in protein and can be useful for blood sugar balance, however over time, animal proteins may actually contribute to a worsening of the blood sugar response and increased risk of type 2 diabetes and other chronic diseases, especially when consumed in excess. You can read more about it in my protein article here: https://talidavoinea.au/how-protein-affects-womens-hormones/

Fibre: Dietary fibre, found in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes, is a complex carbohydrate that is not digested by the body. Soluble fibre, in particular, forms a gel-like substance in the digestive tract, slowing down the absorption of glucose. This helps prevent rapid spikes in blood sugar levels after meals and contributes to overall glycemic control (2). The general recommendation for fibre is actually around 25-30g daily, however a growing body of evidence is suggesting a higher amount of fibre, especially for blood sugar control. One study found that diabetics who consumed up to 50g fibre daily had better blood sugar control that diabetics that didn’t. It’s important to increase fibre slowly as to not create inflammation and digestive upset

Magnesium: Magnesium plays a vital role in blood sugar regulation by influencing insulin secretion, insulin action, and glucose utilisation. It helps insulin effectively transport glucose from the bloodstream into cells, thus promoting healthy blood sugar levels (3).  Good dietary sources of magnesium include dark chocolate, leafy green vegetables, nuts, seeds, and whole grains. Currently there is debate over rising the current RDA of magnesium higher as recommendations appear inadequate. Most women benefit from a minimum of 500mg magnesium daily. 

Chromium: Chromium is an essential trace mineral that enhances the action of insulin. It promotes the uptake of glucose into cells and helps regulate blood sugar levels. While the mechanism of chromium’s effect on blood sugar is not yet fully understood, studies have shown that it improves insulin sensitivity (4).   Chromium is lower in people with diabetes and can be helpful in improving glucose and insulin in diabetics.  Chromium has also been shown useful in women with insulin resistant PCOS by improving both insulin and glucose parameters as well as increasing the likelihood of ovulation and regulating the menstrual cycle (5). Food sources rich in chromium include broccoli, green beans and whole grains.

Zinc: Zinc is involved in insulin synthesis, secretion, and utilisation. It helps regulate insulin levels, and a deficiency of zinc can impair insulin production and function (6). It also plays a crucial role in promoting estrogen secretion from the ovary which further helps to increase insulin sensitivity in women.  Consuming foods such as pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, hemp seeds and cashews can help maintain adequate zinc levels for optimal blood sugar balance. Meat and seafood are also high sources of zinc.

Selenium: Selenium is an important antioxidant that assists in protecting pancreatic cells, which produce insulin. It also supports the conversion of the inactive thyroid hormone (T4) to the active form (T3) that helps regulate metabolism. Brazil nuts, mushrooms and leafy greens are good sources of selenium. 1-2 brazil nuts daily provides all the selenium needed in a day (7).

Vitamin D: Vitamin D deficiency has been associated with insulin resistance and impaired glucose metabolism. Adequate vitamin D levels help enhance insulin sensitivity, supporting the efficient utilisation of glucose. Vitamin D is also important to help regulate the menstrual cycle, especially in women with PCOS. Vitamin D is obtained mostly through exposure to sunlight, fortified foods and sun-bathed mushrooms. Supplementation may be required for women in cold climates without adequate exposure to sunlight.

B Vitamins: The B vitamins, including thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), pyridoxine (B6), and cobalamin (B12), are essential for the metabolism of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. They play a crucial role in converting food into energy and maintaining healthy blood sugar levels. Good dietary sources of B vitamins include whole grains, eggs, legumes such as chickpeas leafy green vegetables and bananas.

Vitamin C: While not directly involved in blood sugar regulation, vitamin C contributes to overall metabolic health. It acts as an antioxidant, reducing oxidative stress and inflammation associated with insulin resistance. Vitamin C can indirectly assist in blood sugar management by means of supporting adrenal function. The adrenals are responsible for stress and sleep, both of which are crucial for blood sugar management. Vitamin C is found in citrus fruits, berries, capsicum, most fruits, potatoes and leafy green vegetables.

Disclaimer: This blog post is for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice. If you have any specific health concerns, please consult with a qualified healthcare professional.


1.Layman, D. K., Anthony, T. G., Rasmussen, B. B., Adams, S. H., Lynch, C. J., Brinkworth, G. D., & Davis, T. A. (2015). Defining meal requirements for protein to optimize metabolic roles of amino acids. The American journal of clinical nutrition101(6), 1330S–1338S. https://doi.org/10.3945/ajcn.114.084053 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25926513/

2. Reynolds, A. N., Akerman, A. P., & Mann, J. (2020). Dietary fibre and whole grains in diabetes management: Systematic review and meta-analyses. PLoS medicine17(3), e1003053. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1003053

3.Veronese, N., Dominguez, L. J., Pizzol, D., Demurtas, J., Smith, L., & Barbagallo, M. (2021). Oral Magnesium Supplementation for Treating Glucose Metabolism Parameters in People with or at Risk of Diabetes: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Double-Blind Randomized Controlled Trials. Nutrients13(11), 4074. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu13114074

4.Anderson, R. A., Polansky, M. M., Bryden, N. A., & Canary, J. J. (1991). Supplemental-chromium effects on glucose, insulin, glucagon, and urinary chromium losses in subjects consuming controlled low-chromium diets. The American journal of clinical nutrition54(5), 909–916. https://doi.org/10.1093/ajcn/54.5.909

5.Ashoush S, Abou-Gamrah A, Bayoumy H, Othman N. Chromium picolinate reduces insulin resistance in polycystic ovary syndrome: Randomized controlled trial. J Obstet Gynaecol Res. 2016 Mar;42(3):279-85. doi: 10.1111/jog.12907. Epub 2015 Dec 14. PMID: 26663540.

6.Anderson, R. A., Roussel, A. M., Zouari, N., Mahjoub, S., Matheau, J. M., & Kerkeni, A. (2001). Potential antioxidant effects of zinc and chromium supplementation in people with type 2 diabetes mellitus. Journal of the American College of Nutrition20(3), 212–218. https://doi.org/10.1080/07315724.2001.10719034

7.Karalis D. T. (2019). The Beneficiary Role of Selenium in Type II Diabetes: A Longitudinal Study. Cureus11(12), e6443. https://doi.org/10.7759/cureus.6443

8.Yousefi Rad, E., Djalali, M., Koohdani, F., Saboor-Yaraghi, A. A., Eshraghian, M. R., Javanbakht, M. H., Saboori, S., Zarei, M., & Hosseinzadeh-Attar, M. J. (2014). The Effects of Vitamin D Supplementation on Glucose Control and Insulin Resistance in Patients with Diabetes Type 2: A Randomized Clinical Trial Study. Iranian journal of public health43(12), 1651–1656.



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