Diabetes Supplements

What Are The Best Supplements for Diabetes?

It’s time to see your health care practitioner and take dietary supplements right from diabetes onset.

It is especially important to seek care if you are experiencing any difficulty managing your blood sugar levels, either fasting or postprandial or if your HbA1c is higher than 7.0.

It may also be time for supplementation if you don’t have diabetes but have insulin sensitivity or insulin resistance.

If your cholesterol levels are off (i.e., total cholesterol, triglycerides, or low-density lipoprotein cholesterol are high, or high-density lipoprotein cholesterol is low), then you will want to choose a supplement containing cinnamon.

If you are experiencing symptoms such as polyuria, polydipsia, polyphagia, weight loss, or nocturia, then a supplement with Momordica charantia is probably right for you.

If you are experiencing nerve-related diabetic symptoms (such as pain, numbness, sensory symptoms, paresthesias, and/or peripheral nerve conductance issues), then you would likely see the most effect from alpha-lipoic acid.

How do supplements help control diabetes symptoms?

There are several different natural ways to manage diabetes mellitus. They operate using different mechanisms of action to help manage symptoms and/or treat the root cause of diabetes.

It is even possible that there is a diabetes cure. If you’re unsure of what the symptoms of diabetes are, it’s important you familiarize yourself with diabetes warning signs.

Momordica charantia, commonly known as bitter melon, is one such remedy.

Bitter melon works by leading to improvements in symptoms and values that are actually quite similar to the improvements seen when using conventional diabetes medication glibenclamide.

Bitter melon helps to decrease fasting blood glucose, HbA1c, and two-hour postprandial blood glucose. It also helps to reduce the symptom of polyuria, which is increased urinary frequency.

Bitter melon also reduces polydipsia (constant thirst), polyphagia (constant hunger), nocturia (the need to urinate during the night), and weight loss, which is a common concern among those with type 2 diabetes.

Alpha-lipoic acid is another natural remedy that can be used to help in the management of diabetes.

Alpha-lipoic acid can lead to significant improvement in pain, numbness, peripheral nerve conductance, sensory symptoms, decreased nerve fiber degeneration, and improved neuropathy and endoneurial function. But alpha lipoic acid doesn’t just help with nerve-related symptoms.

It has also been found to reduce markers of oxidative stress and to inhibit copper and iron-mediated oxidative damage. Alpha-lipoic acid is also effective at lowering blood sugar levels.

Cinnamon isn’t just a tasty spice. It’s also medicinal, particularly in the management of diabetes! In patients with HbA1c higher than 7.0, it can help to significantly lower fasting blood glucose levels.

It is also helpful in managing cholesterol levels of those with diabetes. Cinnamon has been shown to reduce total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (“bad” cholesterol), and triglycerides. It also helps to increase high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (“good” cholesterol).


For more information on the benefits of cinnamon, click here.


Chromium is a micromineral that is often used in the management of diabetes. Chromium works by helping to lower fasting blood glucose levels.

Gymnema Sylvestre is a herb that helps with the regeneration and repair of the beta cells of the pancreas.

These are the cells that produce insulin in a healthy person. Beta cells may have difficulty with this in someone with insulin resistance or insulin sensitivity.

When beta cells in someone with diabetes are repaired, this raises serum insulin levels, which is something that is usually difficult to do in a patient with diabetes.

Gymnema Sylvestre also reduces blood glucose. It is also good at helping patients get to the point where they can decrease the dose of their conventional diabetes medications.

Finally, Coccinia cordifolia is a herb known for its hypoglycemic actions. Compared to placebo, Coccinia cordifolia significantly decreases fasting blood glucose, postprandial glucose, and HbA1c.

Safety and effectiveness of using supplements for diabetes

It is possible that supplements can have improvements similar to what is seen with glibenclamide.

Good supplements can help to lower blood sugar levels, postprandial blood glucose, and HbA1c. They can also help to lower total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, and triglycerides. They can even increase high-density lipoprotein levels, which is not an easy feat. Some dietary supplements can also help with insulin resistance.

The most commonly used medication for diabetes mellitus is metformin. Metformin is used in several diabetes mellitus types, including gestational diabetes. There are a couple of diabetes supplements that can interact with metformin. One of these is cinnamon bark.

Cinnamon increases the effects of metformin through added drug effects.

A fairly significant interaction is possible, so you will want to be sure your doctor closely monitors you if you are taking both metformin and cinnamon bark.

Keep an eye on your blood sugar levels, since you are at increased risk of hypoglycemia while on both these at once.

Chromium is a helpful supplement in diabetes treatment, but there is a risk of a minor interaction with metformin. This happens due to added drug effects, which lead to increased effects of metformin specifically.

Although there are some supplement-medication interactions to look out for, there are several supplements that are safe to take with metformin (alpha-lipoic acid, for example).

Just be sure to check with your health care provider to see what is and is not safe for you to take.

How can you be sure you are taking supplements to treat diabetes safely?

The best supplements for managing diabetes have a broad spectrum of minerals and nutrients. You want to make sure there is a clinically significant dose of the key ingredients.

You also want high-quality ingredients. You definitely want to be putting natural ingredients into your body. After all, that is likely one of the reasons you turned to a supplement (rather than a pharmaceutical drug) in the first place.

But guess what? An ingredient, even in its ideal dose, is useless if it isn’t in the right form! You want a highly bioavailable form of each supplement ingredient. This way, your body will absorb what you are putting into it.

Not only are you getting more benefit from a highly bioavailable product, but you are getting more bang for your buck. You will need less of the product to have more of a therapeutic effect.

When you are shopping around for diabetes management supplements, you’ll want to make sure you get a product that contains ingredients that have been scientifically proven to have clear benefits specifically for diabetes.

Transparency is important. You want to know what you are getting when you spend your hard-earned money on a diabetes management supplement.

This is why you want to get your product from a company that provides transparent information about their laboratory testing.

You also want a supplement from a company that complies with government groups, such as the Food and Drug Administration (the FDA).

You want to see that they clearly list their ingredients. As much as you want transparency when it comes to laboratory testing, it is equally important to have transparency in labeling.

Have a look at customer ratings. You want to make sure you get a product that is highly rated. It is always nice to see when a company uses third-party software to make sure that reviews only come from actual customers.

You also want to obtain a diabetes management supplement from a company that provides excellent customer service and has a money-back guarantee.

Compliance, compliance, compliance. This is how a supplement company ensures quality. You will want to keep an eye out for supplements that are manufactured within the United States. If the company uses Food and Drug Administration-audited facilities for their manufacture, then that is even better.

What are the causes of diabetes?

The causes of diabetes are not exactly simple to explain. This is because diabetes is a complex condition influenced by genetic and epigenetic systems.

To make things even more complicated, all of this is working within a societal framework that is complex in itself.

There are environmental and behavioral influences, as well. There is also considerable research to suggest that the environment of the mother’s womb has a significant effect on the development of type II diabetes later on in life. This is due to genetic predisposition and the maternal environment as well.

Risk factors for diabetes include older age, a family history of diabetes, smoking cigarettes, obesity, and physical inactivity.

Certain races are at higher diabetes risk, including African Americans, Mexican Americans, American Indians, Native Hawaiians, Pacific Islanders, and Asian Americans.

What supplements should you consider if you are prediabetic?

If you have prediabetes, you should consider the following dietary supplements: prebiotics, probiotics, potassium, vitamin D, zinc, betaine, magnesium, alpha-lipoic acid, and aloe vera.

These help by preventing the progression into diabetes and its complications, including cardiovascular disease, diabetic neuropathy, and involvement of the kidneys.

Research has shown that plant protein can help to improve insulin sensitivity, insulin resistance, and reduce the secretion of certain unhealthy fatty acids.

Probiotics and prebiotics can help decrease risk factors of metabolic syndrome by modifying the intestinal microbiome.

They do this by reducing the absorption of certain nutrients and helping with the metabolic handling of nutrient-rich foods. This helps to reduce overall cardiometabolic risk. Red yeast rice is an alternative to a statin drug, which helps by managing cholesterol levels.

Berberine is a compound that helps by regulating blood sugar levels. Curcumin is a nutrient that helps by reducing inflammation.

Vitamin D is useful as well since it helps to scavenge free radicals and fight against inflammation.


For more information on prediabetes, click here.


Which supplements can best help you manage the day-to-day side effects of diabetes?

Some of the most common day to day side effects of diabetes include fatigue, slow-healing cuts and bruises, and diabetic neuropathy, which is described as tingling, pain, and numbness in the hands and/or feet.

To help manage diabetic neuropathy, you may want to consider taking a vitamin B12 supplement.

Whether taken as part of a vitamin B complex, or as pure methylcobalamin, vitamin b12 has been shown to have beneficial effects on what are called somatic symptoms of diabetic neuropathy. These include pain and numbness or tingling.

For skin wounds that are slow to heal, vitamin C is one of the dietary supplements you may want to consider. Vitamin C is actually an important cofactor in the synthesis of collagen. It is also a primary antioxidant.

The body uses a lot of vitamin C after a wound to the skin. When vitamin C supplementation is used in wound healing, there is a lower expression of pro-inflammatory mediators, but higher expression of wound healing mediators.

Vitamin C stimulates expression of self-renewal genes. It also promotes the proliferation of fibroblasts. Overall, vitamin C leads to earlier resolution of inflammation and tissue remodeling.

If fatigue is a diabetes side effect that troubles you, you may want to consider supplementing with melatonin.

Research has found that melatonin supplementation may improve fatigue.

It is thought that this is because melatonin improves antioxidant activities, high cholesterol levels, and inflammatory cytokines by upregulating the creation of mitochondria (which produce energy) in the bodies of those with type 2 diabetes.

Sources

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  2. Chen, L; Magliano, DJ; Zimmet, PZ. (2011). The worldwide epidemiology of type 2 diabetes mellitus–present and future perspectives. Nat Rev Endocrinol. 8 (4), 228-36.
  3. Deshpande, AD; Harris-Hayes, M; Schootman, M. (2008). Epidemiology of diabetes and diabetes-related complications. Phys Ther. 88 (11), 1254-64.
  4. Dibaba, DT; Xun, P; Song, Y; Rosanoff, A; Shechter, M; He, K. (2017). The effect of magnesium supplementation on blood pressure in individuals with insulin resistance, prediabetes, or noncommunicable chronic diseases: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Am J Clin Nutr. 106 (3), 921-929.
  5. Dimova, R; Tankova, T; Chakarova, N. (2017). Vitamin D in the Spectrum of Prediabetes and Cardiovascular Autonomic Dysfunction. J Nutr. 147 (9), 1607-1615.
  6. Grizales, AM; Patti, ME; Lin, AP; Beckman, JA; Sahni, VA; Cloutier, E; Fowler, KM; Dreyfuss, JM; Pan, H; Kozuka, C; Lee, A; Basu, R; Pober, DM; Gerszten, RE; Goldfine, AB. (2018). Metabolic Effects of Betaine: A Randomized Clinical Trial of Betaine Supplementation in Prediabetes. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1 (103), 3038-3049.
  7. Mohammed, BM; Fisher, BJ; Kraskauskas, D; Ward, S; Wayne, JS; Brophy, DF; Fowler, AA; Yager, DR; Natarajan, R. (2016). Vitamin C promotes wound healing through novel pleiotropic mechanisms. Int Wound J. 13 (4), 572-584.
  8. Palacios, T; Vitetta, L; Coulson, S; Madigan, CD; Denyer, GS; Caterson, ID. (2017). The effect of a novel probiotic on metabolic biomarkers in adults with prediabetes and recently diagnosed type 2 diabetes mellitus: study protocol for a randomized controlled trial. Trials. 18 (1), 7.
  9. Rahman, MM; Kwon, HS; Kim, MJ; Go, HK; Oak, MH; Kim, DH. (2017). Melatonin supplementation plus exercise behavior ameliorate insulin resistance, hypertension and fatigue in a rat model of type 2 diabetes mellitus. Biomed Pharmacother. 92 (1), 606-614.
  10. Ranasinghe, P; Wathurapatha, WS; Galappatthy, P; Katulanda, P; Jayawardena, R; Constantine, GR. (2018). Zinc supplementation in prediabetes: A randomized double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial. J Diabetes. 10 (5), 386-397.
  11. Sun, Y; Lai, MS; Lu, CJ. (2005). Effectiveness of vitamin B12 on diabetic neuropathy: systematic review of clinical controlled trials. Acta Neurol Taiwan. 14 (2), 48-54.
  12. Zhang, Y; Liu, W; Liu, D; Zhao, T; Tian, H. (2016). Efficacy of Aloe Vera Supplementation on Prediabetes and Early Non-Treated Diabetic Patients: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials. Nutrients. 23 (8), 7.

About Our Author Dr. Corina Kinsey

Alternative Text
Dr. Corina is a naturopath in the GTA, working out of various locations of Triangle Physiotherapy. Dr. Corina struggled with digestive health for most of her life, to the point where she couldn’t remember what normal digestion felt like. It wasn’t until she discovered natural treatments for digestive problems that she was able to realize how strong and healthy she could really feel. Dr. Corina is now passionate about bringing this knowledge to others, so that they don’t have to suffer like she did. She wants to help people feel like the best version of themselves.

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