Nutrients other than carbohydrates: their effects on glucose homeostasis in humans

Diabetes Metab Res Rev. 2015 Jan;31(1):14-35. doi: 10.1002/dmrr.2533.


Besides carbohydrates, other nutrients, such as dietary protein and amino acids; the supply of fat, vitamin D, and vitamin K; and sodium intake seem to affect glucose homeostasis. Although their effect is less pronounced than that of the amount and composition of carbohydrates, it seems reasonable to consider how nutrient intake habits may be modified to support an improved glucose homeostasis. For instance, taking into account the effect of some nutrients to lower blood glucose concentration on a day-by-day basis might support improvement of glucose homeostasis in the long run. On the other hand, lowering sodium intake too much, as recommended to avoid the development of hypertension, particularly in sodium-sensitive people, might lead to insulin resistance and thereby might risk increasing fasting as well as postprandial blood glucose concentrations. This review summarizes the state of our knowledge of how several nutrients other than carbohydrates, such as protein, fatty acids, vitamin D, vitamin K, magnesium, zinc, chromium, and sodium, affect blood glucose concentrations. Sufficient evidence exists to show that, in prospective studies based on randomized controlled trials, these selected nutrients affect blood glucose regulation. The review describes potential mechanisms leading to the observed effect. As much as is possible from the available data, the extent of the effect, is considered.

Keywords: dietary fatty acids; dietary protein; dietary sodium; glucose metabolism; vitamin D.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Dietary Fats / pharmacology*
  • Dietary Proteins / pharmacology*
  • Fatty Acids / pharmacology
  • Food*
  • Glucose / metabolism*
  • Homeostasis / drug effects*
  • Humans
  • Minerals / pharmacology
  • Trace Elements / pharmacology
  • Vitamins / pharmacology


  • Dietary Fats
  • Dietary Proteins
  • Fatty Acids
  • Minerals
  • Trace Elements
  • Vitamins
  • Glucose