Proper diet is the cornerstone of an effective diabetes management plan. Taking diabetes-friendly dietary supplements can also make a difference in your blood sugars and overall wellness. Consider a few supplements you might want to add to your daily routine, with the approval of your physician.
Supplements and Diabetes
Type 2 diabetes is managed through healthy diet, regular blood glucose testing and daily exercise. In some instances, medication and/or insulin are prescribed by your doctor. While dietary supplements are not a substitute for any of the above, they can be used to enhance your diabetes management plan and reduce your risk of developing other chronic complications. Be aware that some dietary supplements may have side effects or interact with your current diabetes treatment. Always consult with your doctor before taking any type of supplement.
Common Dietary Supplements
- Chromium is a trace mineral that may be helpful for people with diabetes. When there is a lack of chromium in your diet the body cannot efficiently use glucose. Whole grains, broccoli, pumpkin seeds, and oranges are all natural sources of chromium. It can also be taken as a dietary supplement to strengthen bones and muscles and help reduce blood pressure. Only take chromium in accordance with the direction of your health care team.
- Studies have shown that a magnesium deficiency may boost your risk of developing diabetes. Magnesium is contained in foods such as green, leafy vegetables and a variety of nuts. Taking the correct dosage is important, as too much may be detrimental. Side effects include stomach discomfort and diarrhea. Consult your doctor before taking a magnesium supplement to see if it is right for you.
- Omega-3‘s are found in fish such as salmon and tuna, and shellfish such as oysters and crab. They support heart health and may reduce the risk of heart disease which is a complication often associated with diabetes. Omega-3s can act as a blood thinner and may be contraindicated for those on aspirin, anti-inflammatories and blood thinner drugs including Xarelto, Plavix or Coumadin. Always consult your doctor to avoid problems.
- Taking a vitamin D supplement with calcium can reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, support heart health and build stronger teeth, joints, and bones. People with diabetes often suffer from periodontal disease so this may be a good supplement to discuss with your doctor.
- A recent study indicated that taking a small amount of American ginseng (3 grams) about a half hour prior to a meal may lower post-meal blood glucose levels. Be aware that ginseng may have a negative impact on people with hormonal conditions or sleep issues like insomnia.
- The trace mineral vanadium has been studied since the 1980s when it was shown to help reduce blood sugars because it mimics insulin. Vanadium is found in foods such as olives, whole grains, mushrooms, and carrots.
- Studies have indicated that Alpha-lipoic acid (ALA) can protect against cell damage and help people with type 2 diabetes use insulin more efficiently. It is found in foods such as spinach and potatoes. Make sure to test your blood sugar regularly if you take ALA since it may lead to hypoglycemia.
- Studies have shown cinnamon may improve your blood sugar levels. Add cinnamon to your diet as a natural flavor enhancer. Sprinkle a little over your oatmeal in the morning or add a dash in your cup of tea.
Diabetes-friendly dietary supplements may help you maintain better blood sugar control along with good life style habits. They are powerful and should be used with care. Consult with your doctor to see how supplements can fit into your overall diabetes management plan.