Supplements For Diabetes

Kasparas Aleknavičius

2022 May 23

9 min read

There are two main types of diabetes.

Diabetes Mellitus – also known as type 1 diabetes – is a genetic condition that usually occurs early in life. In this condition, the insulin-production cells in the pancreas are destroyed by the body’s natural immune system seriously hindering the body’s ability to control and manage blood sugar levels.

Once known as adult-onset diabetes, type 2 diabetes is lifestyle-led and is, unfortunately, a chronic health condition that is starting to also be seen among more children than ever before. In type 2 diabetes, your body either cannot produce insulin on its own or doesn’t produce quite enough insulin.

The result of this insulin sensitivity in both type 1 and type 2 diabetes is that your blood sugar and blood glucose levels are completely unbalanced to a dangerous and unhealthy degree.

Most diabetics (most especially those with diabetes mellitus) are prescribed medication to help with insulin resistance including

  • insulin therapy
  • metformin
  • sulfonylureas
  • meglitinides

At present, there is no way to cure diabetes mellitus. For both types, what you eat is really important, but for those with type 2 diabetes, an effort to control blood sugar levels through diet and exercise can help to reverse some of the worst effects of the disease.

However, these options are not always enough, and that is why dietary supplements that help with diabetes control are available.

To help you with your own blood sugar control and to better overall manage diabetes, here is a rundown of some of the best dietary supplements for diabetes and diabetic energy supplements that are widely available on the market right now.

Cinnamon Supplements

Cinnamon supplements for diabetes

Cinnamon supplements might be unknown to you right now, but cinnamon has been used in Chinese medicine for hundreds and hundreds of years! Numerous studies have been conducted that have determined that cinnamon supplements can have a positive effect on a person’s blood sugar levels.

Of course, this is a key concern for people with diabetes (even gestational diabetes), so adding cinnamon to your diet in the form of dietary supplements is a good idea.

Chromium Supplements

Chromium supplements for diabetes

It might sound like something from a superhero movie, but chromium is an essential trace mineral. Your body uses it to aid in the metabolism of carbohydrates, so it makes sense that somebody with a chromium deficiency might be at risk of diabetes.

It is important to note that chromium supplementation is only suitable for people with diabetes who have been diagnosed with a true chromium deficiency, as too high of a dose in your body can cause your blood sugar levels to fall too low.

Too much chromium can also cause kidney damage, which in turn can lead to serious kidney disease.

Vitamin B-1

Vitamin b-1 for diabetics

Also known as thiamine, vitamin B-1 can be helpful to people with diabetes who might be starting to experience problems with their blood vessels and their heart.

Low amounts of thiamine in the body has been linked with heart disease and blood vessel damage, so you can take a vitamin B-1 supplement to combat the risk of heart disease.

Alpha-Lipoic Acid

alpha-lipoic acid for diabetes

Also known as ALA, alpha-lipoic acid is a very potent antioxidant that has been found by certain studies to be effective in some aspects of diabetes care. When taken in supplement form, it can reduce oxidative stress which translates into being able to reduce blood sugar levels.

It will also provide a person with lower fasting blood glucose levels, and help to decrease insulin sensitivity and insulin resistance.

However, it should be noted that more of a systematic review is needed for this particular supplement at the moment. Medical expertise demands that more experiments with potential drug interactions are needed to provide further clinical evidence of the benefits of ALA.

Bitter Melon

Bitter Melon for diabetes

The vegetable, bitter melon has been used to treat diabetes and type 2 diabetes for generations in places like South America and Asia.

This is based on cultural and natural healing theories (for example ayurvedic medicine) rather than something that has been put under medical expertise or scientific scrutiny like for example, randomized controlled trials.

In terms of diabetes nutrition, bitter melon isn’t one of the ‘certified’ dietary supplements that would usually be recommended, but people with diabetes across the world continue to use it for diabetes management, so the non scientific argument for its positive effects on blood sugar and blood glucose is clearly strong.

More research is needed to be able to fully establish the extent of effectiveness of bitter melon in diabetes treatment as a way to manage blood sugar.

Green Tea

Green tea for diabetes

Green tea contains polyphenols, which are a form of antioxidants that can help people with diabetes and general overall health too.

Though you might not see it being listed on something like the American Diabetes Association website, there is no doubt that green tea is one of the most widely used alternative medicines in the world.

The main antioxidant in green tea that can be helpful for blood insulin levels is called epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). Clinical trials have been conducted that have discovered that EGCG possesses varied health benefits that include:

  • lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease
  • pre diabetic prevention of type 2 diabetes
  • the ability to improve blood glucose levels to ease some of the most serious diabetes complications
  • the ability to encourage more successful insulin secretion

Again, though a systematic review of green tea for medical treatment of type 2 diabetes has not been officially undertaken, it is a product that people with diabetes tend to consider completely safe and they experiment with green tea as a potential method of blood sugar control to improve levels of blood sugars.

Resveratrol

reservatrol for diabetes

You might not have heard of it, but you have most probably consumed it many times! Resveratol is a chemical that is found in grapes and wine.

When tested on animals in disease control clinical trials, it has been seen to lower blood sugar levels, so it can be assumed that the same blood sugar and blood glucose benefits could be gained for humans.

It has also been identified as being able to reduce oxidative stress which is something else that concerns diabetes care.

If you are trying to live a healthier lifestyle to counteract your type 2 diabetes, then drinking wine to gain its supplemental benefits might not be the best idea in the world. More alcohol puts you at increased risk of things like liver damage and stroke, but that isn’t to say that the above supplements can’t be take in a non-alcoholic form in the future.

If you do include wine in your diabetic meal plan, choose red wine. Red wine has more resveratrol than white because the grape skins remain longer in the fermentation process.

Magnesium

magnesium for diabetes

Magnesium supplements are popular because magnesium is an essential nutrient for the human body regardless of whether you have type 2 diabetes or not.

It is known to be able to control and regular blood pressure, along with being able to improve the problem of insulin resistance which is obviously crucial for someone with type 2 diabetes.

Supplemental magnesium is something that is recommended for help to decrease insulin resistance in diabetic patients, and you can also get a good amount of the nutrient in your diet as well in the form of supplements.

Studies have found a strong link between a high intake of magnesium and/or magnesium supplements and lower rates of insulin resistance and insulin sensitivity. When it comes to recommended blood sugar supplements, magnesium is definitely one of the most popular and most accessible.

Vitamin D

Vitamin d for diabetes

Vitamin D is probably one of the most familiar supplements on this list, and is something that is taken by people all over the world. The body does not produce vitamin D naturally – it absorbs it from sunlight Vitamin D is needed by everybody, certainly not just those with type 2 diabetes.

Vitamin D is one of the most easily accessible and most affordable types of dietary supplements you can get and as well as helping with the regulation of calcium and phosphate, it has been identified that it is able to encourage a lower average blood sugar level.

As many people do not get enough vitamin d from sunlight, taking it as a dietary supplement for type 2 diabetes can have a double whammy effect.

Taking Diabetic Supplements Safely

taking diabetic supplements safely

In general, it is best to get the vital nutrients and vitamins you need from the food you eat but more and more scientific research is proving the efficacy of supplements.

People with diabetes mellitus and type 2 diabetes can both benefit from the right choice of supplements but there are two main points to remember:

  • never replace your prescription medications with supplements
  • always talk to your doctor before starting a course of supplements.

If you notice any adverse reactions that occur when you take dietary supplements of any sort, discontinue use and consult with your doctor.

If you use any of the modern blood sugar/insulin tracking devices, it would be useful to monitor the impact on your blood sugars when you take your dietary supplements.

Final Thoughts

Now that you are equipped with a list of recommendations for dietary supplements that can have a positive impact on things like blood sugars, metabolic syndrome, diabetic neuropathy, impaired glucose tolerance, and insulin production, hopefully you can make some small changes in your own life that can improve insulin sensitivity and glucose control.

Type 2 diabetes management is something that you are going to have to navigate for years, potentially for the rest of your life. If small things like probiotic supplements, fish oil, and other beneficial bacteria along with your healthy diet can make a difference for your glycemic control, fasting blood glucose, blood sugar and other complications, then there is no reason why you shouldn’t be exploring new options all the time.

Written by

Kasparas Aleknavičius

Kasparas is one of our freshest doctor’s in the Klinio family. With his master’s in medicine and broad-spectrum experience in health, he is currently helping our customers better understand diabetes management. He is participating in every product project - from our blog and hub articles to diabetes management subtleties. As a healthcare futurist, he is also constantly looking for innovative ways to control blood glucose and assure the easiest diabetes management complexes.

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