Diabetes Supplements: An Evidence-Based Comprehensive Guide

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Along with providing information on whether various diabetes supplements might be right for you, this article also links to Fullscript where you can buy supplements for diabetes online through the secure healthcare formulary and get free shipping and 20% off the retail price of professional-grade supplements.

Discover the role nutritional supplements can play in managing your diabetes. This article aims to provide an informative overview of how certain supplements, including options like Alpha-lipoic acid, Chromium, and Omega-3 fatty acids, can complement your diabetes management plan. While these supplements are not a cure for diabetes, understanding their benefits and how they can support overall health and blood sugar control is crucial for anyone looking to enhance their diabetes care. Naturally, supplements should be seen as an addition to, rather than a replacement for, standard diabetes treatments.

The Cost of Diabetes

On average people with diabetes incur annual medical expenditures of $19,736, of which approximately $12,022 is attributable to diabetes. People diagnosed with diabetes, on average, have medical expenditures 2.6 times higher than what would be expected without diabetes.

Economic Costs of Diabetes in the U.S. in 2022 [PMID: 37909353]

What Is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a chronic health condition that affects how your body turns food into energy. Normally, when you eat, your body breaks down food into glucose and releases it into your bloodstream. When blood sugar goes up, it signals your pancreas to release insulin, a hormone that acts like a key to let the blood sugar into your body’s cells for use as energy. In diabetes, this process doesn’t work as it should. There are different types of diabetes, but all involve issues with insulin, either non is produced (as in Type 1 Diabetes) or the body can’t use it effectively (as in Type 2 Diabetes).

Symptoms of Type 2 diabetes can be very subtle at first and they develop over the course of years. Common symptoms of uncontrolled diabetes include increased thirst and hunger, frequent urination, unexplained weight loss, fatigue, blurred vision, slow-healing sores, and frequent infections. These symptoms occur because the body’s cells are not getting the glucose they need for energy, leading to a build-up of sugar in the bloodstream.

The exact cause of diabetes varies by type. Type 1 diabetes is believed to be an autoimmune condition where the body mistakenly attacks the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. Type 2 diabetes, more common, is often associated with lifestyle factors like excess weight and physical inactivity, although genetics also play a role. Gestational diabetes is a form of diabetes that occurs during pregnancy and usually resolves after giving birth, though it dramatically increases the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes later in life.

Understanding diabetes is the first step in managing it. While diabetes is a serious condition, with the right treatment and lifestyle changes, people with diabetes can lead full and active lives.

What Food and Lifestyle Factors Are Important For Managing Diabetes?

Healthy Eating Habits:

  • Balanced Diet: Focus on a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains. These foods have a lower glycemic index and provide essential nutrients.
    • Controlled Carbohydrate Intake: Monitor and manage the amount and type of carbohydrates consumed to keep blood sugar levels stable.
    • Fiber-Rich Foods: Include foods high in fiber like legumes, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, as fiber helps in blood sugar control.
    • Healthy Fats: Incorporate sources of unsaturated fats like nuts, seeds, avocados, and olive oil, while limiting saturated and trans fats.
  • Regular Physical Activity: Engaging in at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity per week, such as brisk walking, swimming, or cycling, along with strength training exercises at least twice a week, is recommended.
  • Maintaining a Healthy Weight: Losing weight, especially if you are overweight, can significantly improve blood sugar control and reduce the risk of diabetes complications.
  • Monitoring Blood Sugar Levels: Regular monitoring is crucial for effective diabetes management, allowing for necessary adjustments in diet and medications.
  • Stress Management: High levels of can affect blood sugar levels, so using techniques like mindfulness, yoga, and regular exercise can be very effective in managing stress.
  • Adequate Sleep: Aim for 7-8 hours of quality sleep per night, as poor sleep can affect blood sugar control and insulin sensitivity.
  • Avoid Smoking and Limit Alcohol: Smoking increases the risk of diabetes complications, and excessive alcohol consumption can interfere with blood sugar control.
  • Regular Medical Check-ups: Routine visits to a healthcare provider are essential for managing diabetes and monitoring any potential complications.
  • Berberine: Berberine, a natural plant alkaloid, is usually used as an antibiotic drug in other countries. Researchers studied people newly diagnosed with diabetes who were given 500mg of berberine twice a day for 3 months. “Berberine had a robust glucose-lowering effect by significantly reducing fasting glucose by 25 mg/dl and after-meal glucose by 55 mg/dl, and HbA1c at 3 months by 0.9% from the initial levels of 7.5%.” They add that berberine was comparable to metformin and may provide additional benefits when given with conventional medications. [PMID: 18397984]
  • Alpha-lipoic acid (ALA): ALA is a powerful antioxidant that may improve insulin sensitivity, but is recommended because it has been shown to reduce the risk of painful neuropathy that complicates long-term diabetes. [PMC10458197]
  • Omega-3 fatty acids: Found in fish oil, these fatty acids are known for their anti-inflammatory properties and cardiovascular benefits. They may help reduce the risk of heart disease, which is higher in people with diabetes.
  • Magnesium: Essential for glucose metabolism. Low magnesium levels are common in people with diabetes and can worsen insulin resistance. Supplementing magnesium may improve insulin sensitivity and metabolic control. [PMC8619199]
  • Taurine: Some research suggests that taurine supplementation may improve insulin sensitivity and glucose metabolism, potentially helping individuals with type 2 diabetes better manage their blood sugar levels. [PMC9235038]
  • Multivitamin:
    • Chromium: Plays a role in carbohydrate and fat metabolism. It can enhance the action of insulin and improve the body’s use of glucose, potentially helping to lower blood sugar levels.
    • Vitamin D: Important for bone health and immune function. Vitamin D deficiency is linked to increased risk of diabetes and poor blood sugar control. Supplementing may improve glucose metabolism and overall diabetes management.
    • B Vitamins: Particularly B12, is important as some diabetes medications, like Metformin, can reduce B12 levels, leading to neuropathy and other health issues. Supplementing with B vitamins can help maintain healthy nerve function and energy levels.
  • Fiber: Soluble fiber slows down the absorption of sugar, helping to control blood sugar levels. A review of the research showed that for patients with diabetes, taking psyllium, a soluble fiber, led to a significant reduction in triglycerides, LDL, fasting blood sugar, and hemoglobin A1c. [PMID: 31919936]
  • Gymnema Sylvestre: An herb used in traditional medicine, it’s believed to help reduce sugar absorption in the intestines, interact with taste receptors on the tongue to temporarily reduce the ability to taste sweetness. [PMID: 34467577] [PMID: 22432517]
  • Green Tea: Rich in antioxidants and polyphenols, green tea can enhance insulin activity. It may help in moderating blood sugar levels and improving overall metabolic health. Epidemiological studies show strong relationships between green tea consumption and reduced risk of type 2 diabetes and its cardiovascular complications. [PMC4909506] [PMC9150804]
  • Probiotics with Akkermansia: Akkermansia muciniphila has been shown to cause the L-cells of the intestinal tract to secrete GLP-1, the same hormone that led to the development of Ozempic (semaglutide). GLP-1 improves insulin secretion, reducing glucagon release, slowing gastric emptying, and promoting satiety, thereby improving blood sugar control and management.

Cinnamon May Not Improve Blood Sugar

Cinnamon contains compounds that have been thought to mimic insulin and increase its effectiveness in lowering blood sugar levels and some studies have suggested a benefit in glucose control. However, when researchers reviewed 10 studies, they found no statistically significant difference in Hemoglobin A1c, serum insulin or after-meal glucose between cinnamon and control groups. 

Besides that, it might not be safe for everyone. The European Food Safety Authority has set a tolerable upper limit at 0.1mg/kg because of the coumarin content, which can affect the liver and increase cancer risk. Translating this limit to an amount of cinnamon can be challenging, as cinnamon’s coumarin content can vary greatly depending on the type of cinnamon. [PMC3767714]

Dietary supplements are not designed to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. This article aims to offer valuable insights into which nutritional supplements have undergone scientific study and shown promise in supporting specific health conditions. We break down the research, so you can work with your medical providers to make informed decisions about adding supplements to your health regimen. For personalized advice tailored to your needs, we recommend consulting with a registered dietitian in addition to your primary care provider.

Check with your physician when adding supplements. While supplements are generally safe for most people, do not add nutritional supplements without your physician’s specific approval if you are pregnant or nursing, are undergoing cancer treatment, have a history of organ transplant, liver or kidney disease, or take medications that interact with supplements.

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Why Professionals Choose the Fullscript Formulary

Your health is on the line. Health professionals know that many other online and retail options set a very low bar for quality–sometimes amazingly low. The Fullscript formulary is the most secure online source for the highest quality brands securely sourced to assure freshness and purity. Here’s what makes Fullscript the best:

  • Meticulous vetting of brand quality. Health professionals trust Fullscript to continuously monitor the quality of each item on the platform. Other retailers operate with profit as their highest or only motive when choosing brands. Fullscript cares only about quality and reliability. Unlike discount stores, large online marketplaces, and other retailers you won’t find ingredients sourced from China or other questionable locations or companies.
  • Always 20% Discount off the manufacturer’s retail price. When you follow any link from Supplement-Sciences.com, you will automatically get 20% off the retail price.
  • Free shipping over $50.
  • Freshness. Fullscript prioritizes freshness over bulk buying even if it means an increased risk of briefly being out of stock.
  • Top quality phone and online support. When you call, knowledgeable humans at Fullscript answer your questions.
  • How It Works:
    • Easy Sign-up & No Spam Email: Click the “View Product” button below to be taken to Fullscript’s login page where you can quickly create your secure account with just your name, email, and phone number. Then you will be taken directly to the product page.
    • Wide variety of supplement options: Once you sign in to your account, you are not limited to the products listed below. You will see similar items listed at the bottom of each product page on Fullscript.
    • Search For What You Want: Once inside Fullscript, you can search for the exact brands and products you want from their wide selection of quality brands.

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Are These Supplements For Diabetes Safe?

Alpha-lipoic acid (ALA), Chromium, Magnesium, Omega-3 fatty acids, Vitamin D, B Vitamins, Cinnamon, Berberine, Fenugreek, Gymnema Sylvestre, Bitter Melon, and Green Tea are generally safe when used responsibly and within recommended doses for people with diabetes. These supplements, derived from natural sources, are widely used for their potential health benefits. ALA, a potent antioxidant, Chromium, which aids glucose metabolism, Magnesium for insulin sensitivity, heart-healthy Omega-3s, bone-strengthening Vitamin D, energy-boosting B Vitamins, Cinnamon for blood sugar control, Berberine with its glucose-lowering effects, Fenugreek for improved glucose tolerance, Gymnema Sylvestre for sugar cravings, Bitter Melon mimicking insulin, and Green Tea for its metabolic benefits, all have a good safety profile.

Medication Interactions

  • Medications for Diabetes: The use of Alpha-lipoic acid (ALA) can enhance the effects of diabetes medications, leading to a risk of hypoglycemia. Chromium has the potential to increase the effectiveness of diabetes medications, raising the possibility of low blood sugar. Fenugreek lowers blood sugar levels, which might amplify the effects of diabetes medications. Gymnema Sylvestre can boost the impact of insulin and other diabetes drugs. Bitter Melon, acting like insulin, could interact with diabetes medications and affect blood sugar control. Cinnamon’s blood sugar lowering effect might interact with diabetes medications.
  • Blood Thinning Medications (Anticoagulants/Antiplatelets): Omega-3 fatty acids can increase the risk of bleeding when taken with blood thinners. High doses of Green Tea may affect blood clotting when combined with blood thinners due to its vitamin K content. Ginkgo Biloba might increase the risk of bleeding when used with blood thinners.
  • Chemotherapy Drugs: The compounds in Green Tea could potentially interfere with the effectiveness of chemotherapy drugs.
  • Medications for High Blood Pressure: Magnesium can have additive blood pressure-lowering effects when taken with hypertension medications, possibly leading to too low blood pressure. Fenugreek contains potassium, which might interact with specific blood pressure medications.
  • Medications that Slow Blood Clotting: Berberine might increase the risk of bleeding when taken with medications that slow blood clotting.

Supplement Interactions

  • Alpha-lipoic acid (ALA): May interact with other antioxidant supplements, potentially altering their effects.
  • Chromium: Can interact with supplements that affect blood sugar levels, potentially amplifying their effects.
  • Magnesium: Might interact with other minerals like calcium and zinc, affecting their absorption and efficacy.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids: Can interact with other supplements that have blood-thinning properties, like vitamin E.
  • Vitamin D: May interact with calcium supplements, influencing calcium absorption and balance.
  • B Vitamins: Can interact with other B vitamins, potentially affecting the balance and efficacy of the B vitamin complex.
  • Cinnamon: Might interact with other supplements that lower blood sugar, potentially enhancing their effects.
  • Berberine: Can interact with other supplements that affect blood sugar and cholesterol levels.
  • Fenugreek: May interact with other supplements that lower blood sugar or have a fiber-like effect.
  • Gymnema Sylvestre: Might interact with supplements that affect blood sugar levels, potentially enhancing their blood sugar-lowering effects.
  • Bitter Melon: Can interact with supplements that have hypoglycemic effects, potentially enhancing the overall effect on blood sugar levels.
  • Green Tea: May interact with other stimulant supplements or those containing caffeine, potentially amplifying their effects.

Food First!

Although this article discusses supplements in detail, don’t forget that we are absolutely committed to the “Food First” approach to nutrition. When it comes to your health, the totality of your eating habits far surpasses the impact of individual nutrients or any single supplement you consume. Even though this article doesn’t delve into the broader picture of your overall diet, it’s crucial to keep this element at the forefront of our minds. Your food needs to provide all the vitamins, minerals, fiber, and phytochemicals to nourish your body systems down to the cellular level.

Food choices, rather than supplements, are the most critical factors for a healthy gut microbiome. These trillions of tiny inhabitants in your gut affect your brain waves; they orchestrate your immune system. They possess the power to create molecules that can switch genes on or off and are even capable of synthesizing neurotransmitters. Opting for organic foods and steering clear of plastic packaging (including those labeled BPA-free) is a smart move to limit toxin exposure. The sum of all these parts leads to a powerful conclusion: the ultimate key to your health lies in the quality and balance of the food you consume. Supplements are secondary.

To Sum It Up

If you have diabetes, ask your physician for a referral to a registered dietitian nutritionist. It’s a standard of care for diabetes. [*] That is because dietitians are the allies who can help you navigate the maze of conflicting nutrition advice and help you get a strategy you can live with. The importance of a balanced diet, regular exercise, and medication adherence cannot be overstated in diabetes management.

Supplements can help manage diabetes, but they should not necessarily replace prescribed diabetes medicines. Rather, they should be considered as complementary. Each of these supplements offers unique benefits, from improving insulin sensitivity and blood sugar control to enhancing heart health with Omega-3 fatty acids and reducing inflammation with Green Tea. Magnesium, Taurine and Vitamin D play crucial roles in overall metabolic health, while B Vitamins support energy metabolism, vital for individuals managing diabetes. The traditional use of herbs like Fenugreek, and Gymnema Sylvestre in diabetes management has been backed by modern research, highlighting their role in blood sugar regulation.

This Article is Not a Substitute for Medical Advice

Dietary supplements are not designed to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. The Supplement Sciences website seeks to provide comprehensive access to the most relevant supplement information along with convenient online ordering. We do not provide medical advice and cannot guarantee that every product suggested is completely without risk. Since each person is unique in their health history and medication use, it is important to discuss supplements with your personal physician. Specifically, pregnant women and individuals being treated for cancer or liver or kidney problems must consult their physician about every nutritional supplement they plan to take. People taking medications for the treatment of HIV or with a history of organ transplant must not take supplements without consulting with their physician.

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