In every issue of Diabetes Self-Management magazine, we test your knowledge on a diabetes-related topic. Here's a quiz question from the March/April 2014 issue.

How much do you know about vitamins?

The body needs vitamins and minerals to grow, develop, and stay healthy. Also called “micronutrients,” vitamins and minerals are needed only in small amounts, unlike “macronutrients” (carbohydrate, protein and fat, which supply the body with energy. Ideally, following a healthy diet would provide you with all of the micronutrients you need, but sometimes even a healthy diet leaves gaps, and if you don’t consume the recommended amounts of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, for example, you may be shortchanging yourself on certain important vitamins and minerals. But vitamin supplements aren’t necessarily a quick fix — and in some situations, they can do more harm than good. What can vitamin supplements do for you? Try your hand at the question below to find out.

The best vitamin supplements contain extra ingredients, such as herbs, and usually cost a lot of money.

FALSE. It’s tempting to take fancy vitamin supplements that boast special ingredients and cost a small fortune. But in general, there’s really no reason to do so; you’ll end up spending more money than you need. It’s best to avoid vitamins that contain “extras” — ginseng, green tea, or enzymes, for example. The amount of the extras that can be added is pretty small (otherwise the pill would be very large), and it’s unlikely they offer any benefit. Choose a multivitamin or mineral supplement that provides about 100% of the Daily Value for most nutrients (except for calcium; a pill containing the full Daily Value of calcium would be too large to swallow, and this vitamin can only be absorbed in amounts of about 500 mg). Also, look for one that has a seal of approval from the US Pharmacopeia (USP), Consumer Lab, or NSF International (NSF). Some of the most highly recommended brands can be found right in your local pharmacy or a warehouse store. Also, generic brands tend to have the same nutrient content as name brands and are generally cheaper.

In every issue of Diabetes Self-Management magazine, we test your knowledge on a diabetes-related topic. Here's a quiz question from the January/February 2014 issue.

How much do you know about neuropathy?

People with diabetes are at risk for a type of nerve damage called diabetic neuropathy. The most common form is peripheral neuropathy, so called because it affects the peripheral parts of the body — the hands, arms, lower legs, and feet. Symptoms can include pain, burning, tingling, and/or numbness in these areas. However, diabetic neuropathy can affect other parts of the body, as well, causing a broad range of symptoms. Take this quiz to see how much you know about diabetic neuropathy, how it can affect you, and what can be done to slow its progression and treat the symptoms.

The symptoms of neuropathy are treatable, but the nerve damage itself is not.

TRUE. There is no medicine or treatment proven to repair damaged nerves, although neuropathy symptoms sometimes subside when blood glucose is maintained in the near-normal range. However, there are many products that falsely claim to treat or cure nerve damage when in fact, they do no such thing. When investigating treatments for your neuropathy, keep in mind that if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Don’t use any product with a label that claims it’s a cure for diabetic neuropathy — or diabetes in general — and talk to your doctor or pharmacist about any new products you’re thinking about trying before you use them.

In every issue of Diabetes Self-Management magazine, we test your knowledge on a diabetes-related topic. Here's a quiz question from the September/October 2013 issue.

How much do you know about the HbA1c test?

HbA1c (short for hemoglobin A1c or glycosylated hemoglobin, now more commonly called simply A1C) is a blood test your health-care provider uses to get an idea of your average blood glucose level in the recent past. This information helps determine if your diabetes treatment plan needs adjusting, among other things. But what, really, does this test measure? And what is a “good” result? Test your knowledge of the HbA1c test by answering the following question!

If my A1C score is in target range, my diabetes is in great control and there’s no reason for me to check my “fingerstick” blood glucose level.

FALSE. An A1C test is an average. You could have extreme highs and extreme lows that average out to a number that sounds good, but you could hardly classify such a glucose rollercoaster as having great control. The A1C test and the readings from your meter work as a team. The A1C can ferret out glucose trends commonly missed with home monitoring (such as frequent lows in the middle of the night, or extended highs in the afternoons); while the meter might reveal a pattern of peaks and valleys the averaging nature of the A1C can’t predict. How high your blood glucose is matters, but so does the range between the highest and lowest numbers. Both can lead to diabetes complications.

In every issue of Diabetes Self-Management magazine, we test your knowledge on a diabetes-related topic. Here's a quiz question from the July/August 2013 issue.

How much do you know about protein?

Protein is one of the major nutrients that the body needs for good health. It’s part of every cell, tissue, and organ in the body. Most people think of protein in terms of building muscle, but it has many other important functions, too, such as regulating fluid balance, helping blood to clot, making hormones and enzymes, and fighting off invaders, like viruses and bacteria. Find out how much you know about this vital nutrient by trying your hand at the following question.

People who exercise need more protein than people who do not.

FALSE. If you were a fan of the Rocky movies, you might remember Rocky Balboa gulping down raw eggs in an effort to build his strength. It’s a common misconception that if you’re exercising or trying to build muscle, you need to eat more protein. After all, muscle is protein, so it would seem that eating more protein builds more muscle. While avid exercisers and athletes may, in fact, need a little more protein in their diets, most people already consume about double the protein they need, anyway. Strength training using weights, resistance bands, kettle bells, or weight machines is what builds muscle. However, if you’re trying to “bulk up,” it may be helpful to eat some protein along with carbohydrate after your workout; research suggests that doing so may actually help to build muscle.

Statements and opinions expressed on this Web site are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the publishers or advertisers. The information provided on this Web site should not be construed as medical instruction. Consult appropriate health-care professionals before taking action based on this information.

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