In addition to proper dietary intake, medication prescribed by your doctor, adequate physical activity, certain dietary supplements are beneficial and can help control symptoms of type 2 diabetes.
Some people with diabetes regularly take dietary supplements in efforts to improve their blood glucose control, manage the symptoms and reduce the risk of developing serious complications such as heart ailments.
According to the latest research and the nutritional ingredients that have been tested in clinical trials, nutritional healthcare experts are recommending to consider the following supplements for helping manage glucose control…
1) Alpha-Lipoic Acid (ALA) also known as lipoic acid or thioctic acid, is an antioxidant. It’s a natural nutrititional substance that protects against cell damage. ALA is found in certain foods, such as liver, spinach, broccoli and potatoes.
Some people with type 2 diabetes supplement Alpha Lipoic Acid with the objective of improving the body’s ability to use insulin, thus lowering blood glucose levels.
ALA is also used as a supplement to prevent or treat diabetic neuropathy (severe nerve disorder; symptoms include: pain, numbness and circulatory problems in the lower limbs).
ALA has been researched for its effect on insulin sensitivity, glucose metabolism and diabetic neuropathy. Some studies have found benefits, but followup research is needed.
Nutritional healthcare experts often recommend taking ALA with L-Carnitine, an amino acid that may also help diabetics better control glucose.
Studies have found that the two substances could have added health benefits when taken together.
It is important to note… Alpha Lipoic Acid can potentially lower blood sugar too much, so it is essential for people with diabetes to regularly monitor their blood sugar levels very carefully.
2) Chromium is an essential trace mineral. The body requires small amounts (measured in mcg – micrograms, not milligrams) of it to perform its key functions properly. Some people with diabetes take Chromium in an effort to improve their blood glucose control.
Chromium is found in many foods, but usually only in small amounts; Good sources include beef, whole grain products, as well as some fruits, vegetables and spices.
As a dietary supplement, it’s available in several forms such as chromium picolinate, chromium chloride and chromium nicotinate.
Chromium supplementation has been researched for its effect on glucose control in people with diabetes. Study results have been positive, but.additional research is needed.
At the typical low doses (usually ranging from 50mcg to 400 micrograms per day), Chromium appears to be safe for most adults. But people with diabetes should be aware that this trace mineral might cause blood sugar levels to go too low.
High doses can cause serious side effects, including kidney problems, an issue of particular concern to people with diabetes.
3) Omega-3 Fatty Acids are polyunsaturated fatty acids that come from foods such as fish, fish oil, vegetable oil (canola and soybean oil), walnuts and wheat germ.
Omega-3 supplements are available in capsules, primarily as concentrated fish oil. Omega-3s are important in a wide range of bodily functions, including the efficient transport of calcium and other essential nutrients in and out of cells; as well as the relaxation and contraction of muscles, normal blood clotting, digestion, fertility, and cell division and growth.
In addition, omega-3s are well-researched for their benefits and ability to help protect against heart disease, reduce inflammation and lowering triglyceride levels.
Omega-3 fatty acids have also been researched for their effect on controlling glucose and reducing heart disease risk, especially in people with type 2 diabetes.
Studies show that Omega-3 fatty acids lower triglycerides, but they don’t affect blood glucose control, total cholesterol or HDL (good) cholesterol in people with diabetes.
Additional research, particularly long-term studies that look specifically at heart disease in people with diabetes, is needed.
Omega-3s appear to be safe for most adults at low-to-moderate doses (usually about 1-3 total grams per day). However, it’s important to be aware that in high doses, fish oil can interact with certain medications, including blood thinners and the prescription drugs used for controlling high blood pressure.
4) Specific Antioxidants such as Polyphenols found in tea, dark chocolate and dark-colored fruits and other whole food sources are also being studied for possible effects on vascular health (including blood pressure) and on the body’s ability to properly use insulin.
No adverse effects of EGCG or green tea were found in these studies and green tea is safe for most adults when used in moderate amounts.
However, Green Tea contains caffeine, which can cause insomnia, anxiety or irritability, among other effects in some people. Green teaalso contains small amounts of vitamin K, which can cause the prescription anti-coagulant drugs (such as Warfarin) to be less effective.
6) Other food-derived nutritional supplements such as high-concentrate Garlic have been explored for lowering blood glucose levels, but findings have not been consistent.
7) Other studies, including the effects of dietary Magnesium supplementation on blood glucose control have had mixed results, although researchers have found that eating a diet high in Magnesium may lower the risk of diabetes.
8) The effectiveness of Coenzyme Q10 supplementation as an alternative or adjunct therapy for diabetes is also being studied; Although its ability to regulate glucose control have had conflicting findings, Coenzyme Q10 is generally regarded as a “heart-healthy” dietary supplement.
9) Cinnamon is now making headlines because this common spice is regarded as a potential natural treatment in disorders of glucose control and heart disease. Cinnamon bark is beneficial for glucose control, enabling insulin to work more efficiently. It’s been clinically shown to help decrease the symptoms that commonly accompany elevated blood sugar and its harmful effects.
10) Researchers are also studying whether the herbal root Ginseng and the trace mineral Vanadium might also be valuable in helping control glucose levels.
Some people with type 2 diabetes are also trying herbal and botanical supplements such as prickly pear cactus, Gymnema sylvestre (gurmar), Coccinia indica, aloe vera, fenugreek and bitter melon to help control their glucose levels.
If you have diabetes and are thinking about using dietary supplements, it’s a good idea to discuss a regimen with your health care providers as well as any other complementary and alternative practices you use.
When consulting with your doctor or other healthcare practitioner, be sure to give them a full picture of what you do to manage your health. Effective communication will help ensure a beneficial healthcare program that is both safe and properly coordinated.
Prescription medicines for diabetes and other health conditions may need to be adjusted if a patient is also using dietary supplements.
Women who are pregnant or nursing, or people who are thinking of including supplements to enhance a child’s dietary intake, should consult their doctor or health care professional.
Don’t replace scientifically proven diabetes treatments with alternative treatments that are unproven.The consequences of not following your prescribed medical regimen for diabetes can be very serious.
In the United States alone, 23.6 million people have diabetes. And 5.6 million of them don’t even know it. Unfortunately, misinformation about diabetes is rampant. Not understanding or mixing up the facts about this disease can have serious consequences:
a) Diabetes is a major cause of heart disease and stroke.
b) Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney failure, lower-limb amputations and new cases of blindness among adults in the United States.
c) Diabetes is the 7th leading cause of death in the United States.
A new report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that at the rate the disease is progressing, as many as 1 in 3 U.S. adults will have diabetes by 2050.
Source: National Institutes of Health
Adapted from “Diabetes and CAM: A Focus on Dietary Supplements” by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, a division of the National Institutes of Health. (Published January 28, 2012)
For your reference and for further information, here are additional resources:
The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine: provides helpful information on supplements and other alternative treatments, including publications and searches of federal databases of scientific and medical literature.
The National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse responds to inquiries, offers informative diabetes publications and helps arrange referrals for patients.
Online, visit: www.diabetes.niddk.nih.gov/dm/a-z.asp
The National Diabetes Education Program is sponsored by the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, with many federal, state and local partners. Its services include providing up-to-date information and publications on diabetes.
This article is for informational and educational purposes only; It is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Consult your doctor or healthcare professional.
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