It’s always best to let the food you eat provide your vitamins and minerals by eating a variety of food. Supplements should never replace standard diabetes treatment.
Just because a product is natural doesn’t mean it’s safe to use. Some of these products can interfere with other treatments and medications. A number of supplements have shown promise as diabetes treatments. These include the following:
Chinese medicine has been using cinnamon for medicinal purposes for hundreds of years. It has been the subject of numerous studies to determine its effect on blood glucose levels. More studies are being done, but cinnamon is showing promise for helping to treat diabetes by lowering fasting blood glucose.
Chromium is a trace element used in the metabolism of carbohydrates. The research is mixed. Low doses are safe for most people but high doses may cause kidney damage.
Vitamin B1 is also known as thiamine. Many people with diabetes are thiamine deficient. This may contribute to diabetes complications like heart disease and blood vessel damage. Since vitamin B1 is water soluble, it has some difficulty getting into the cells. Benfotiamine, a supplemental form of thiamine, penetrates the cell membranes more easily but the studies are mixed on whether it actually prevents diabetes complications.
Alpha-lipoic acid (ALA) is a potent antioxidant. Some studies suggest it may reduce oxidative stress and thereby decrease inflammation; lower fasting blood glucose; and decrease insulin resistance. ALA needs to be taken with caution, as it has the potential to lower blood glucose levels to dangerous levels.
Bitter melon is used to treat diabetes-related conditions in countries like Asia, South America, and others. There is a lot of data on its effectiveness as a treatment for diabetes in animal and lab studies but human data is limited and of poor quality.
Green tea contains the antioxidants, polyphenols. The main antioxidant in green tea is known as epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). Laboratory studies have suggested that EGCG may have numerous health benefits including decreasing the risk of cardiovascular disease; preventing diabetes, improving blood glucose control, and improved insulin action. Although studies on people with diabetes haven’t shown health benefits, green tea is generally considered safe.
Resveratrol is a chemical found in wine and grapes. In animal models, it helps prevent high blood glucose, and reduce oxidative stress. However, human data is limited. It’s not certain whether supplementation helps with diabetes.
Magnesium is a nutrient that helps regulate blood pressure and also insulin sensitivity. Supplemental magnesium may improve insulin sensitivity in people with diabetes, and it also may help to prevent diabetes.
As you can see from this list, there are a number of natural supplements that can be used to manage diabetes. However, even for those on this list, it’s important that you talk to your doctor before adding any supplement or vitamin to your diabetes plan since they may still have a negative interaction with some of your medications.
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