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September 5, 2011 at 8:00 AMComments: 0 Faves: 0

7 Supplements for Diabetes

By Dr. Jeff Chamberlain, MD More Blogs by This Author

Many people use supplements in an attempt to support their health with diabetes.  There are some supplements that may be helpful in controlling diabetes, while others may not be needed.  Here are seven of the more popular supplements and my take on them, as a general practitioner:

#1. Cinnamon

Cinnamon has been shown to help with insulin resistance and to modestly improve Hemoglobin A1c.  Cinnamon is a good source of fiber and has other potential health benefits.  So, cinnamon is high on my list of a supplements worth taking, especially if you're a person with diabetes.

#2. Magnesium

There is some evidence that if you're low in magnesium, it may have effects on diabetes control (it can also cause other medical problems). There is also evidence that having diabetes may increase your chances of having low magnesium levels.  That being said, there is good evidence that if you have diabetes and normal magnesium levels, taking extra magnesium will not improve your diabetes.  In short, if you have diabetes and think you might have low magnesium levels, get those levels checked. If they're low, you should replace it with diet and/or supplementation.  If they're normal, there's no need to supplement.

#3. Chromium

May or may not be helpful.  There's a lot on the internet about using chromium to treat diabetes.  This is based on studies that show trivalent chromium (Cr+3) in trace amounts has some effect on lipid and glucose metabolism.  But in practicality, because such a small amount of chromium is needed, almost no one in the western world is deficient in chromium. Blind studies comparing chromium supplementation with placebo in diabetics show mixed results: most of the studies showed no difference in Hemoglobin A1c between the two groups.

#4. Agaricus Mushroom

Might be helpful when taken in combination with metformin.  There have been clinical studies that show agaricus mushroom in combination with metformin decreases insulin resistance more than metformin alone. 

#5. Alpha-Lipoic Acid

Seems to improve insulin sensitivity, but doesn't seem to lower HgA1c levels.

#6. Blond Psyllium

Seems to help reduce total cholesterol levels, LDL levels, postprandial serum glucose, and insulin levels in people with type 2 diabetes.

#7. Ginseng, Panax

Taking 200 mg daily may lower HgA1c in people with type 2 diabetes.

It's important to remember that regardless of using medications or supplements it's important to have regular follow-ups to make sure your Hemoglobin A1c is in the goal range.

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