Nearly 30 million Americans have diabetes and nearly one-third use complimentary or alternative medicines, including supplements, to manage their condition.
Experts say that in many cases, supplements can help manage Type 2 diabetes, the insulin-resistant form of the disease which is the most common in the United Sates.
“There have been countless studies on this topic,” Dr. Jennifer Stagg, author of “Unzip Your Genes: 5 Choices to Reveal a Radically Different You,” and a leading expert on gene modification.
“Typically, when you have so many studies, you’ll find some are positive along with the negative. However when you take the time to read the papers to determine how they were conducted, some supplements stand out as offering the best evidence and the best safety record with glycemic control.”
Always check with your physician before adding any supplements to your regimen and don’t stop taking your medication.
Here are five well reviewed supplements that can help manage diabetes:
Chromium. This essential trace mineral makes insulin more active by helping it bind to the insulin receptor, says Stagg. It is naturally occurring in meat, fish, fruits and vegetables, spices, whole wheat bread and rye breads.
As a supplement it is sold as chromium picolinate, chromium chloride and chromium niconitate. Recommended dosage is 200-1000 micrograms daily.
Biotin. This vitamin helps with glucose management inside the cell through the enzyme glucokinase. “There have been mixed results due to genetic differences,” the expert tells Newsmax Health. Biotin is a coenzyme and a B vitamin often called vitamin H.
Research shows that the combination of chromium and biotin may improve blood sugar levels for people with Type 2 diabetes. This important vitamin which also staves off hair loss and depression is found naturally in wheat germ, whole-grain cereal, eggs, dairy products, Swiss chard, salmon and chicken. Stagg recommends 3-16 micrograms daily.
Vitamin D. The “sunshine vitamin” improves the secretion of insulin from the pancreas. Studies have also shown that it also improves glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity, says Stagg.
In spite of the name, vitamin D is actually considered to be a pro-hormone because the body is capable of producing its own vitamin D through the action of sunlight on the skin, while vitamins are nutrients that cannot be synthesized by the body and are only acquired through diet and supplements.
In Type 2 diabetics, low vitamin D levels may have adverse effects on insulin secretion and glucose tolerance. In one study, infants who received 2,000 I.U. daily had an 88 percent lower risk of developing type 1 diabetes by the age of 32. Stagg recommends 800-2,000 I.U./day.
D-chiro-Inositol. This chemical variant of inositol, a B vitamin, helps insulin work better because it improves the glucose pathway after the insulin has bound its receptor on a cell.
It may significantly lower the fasting glucose level, says Stagg, and since diabetics seem to excrete this compound more than others, supplementation—especially for women who may also have PCOS or polycystic ovarian syndrome and who are insulin resistant, may benefit from this complimentary addition.
You can find this nutrient in its highest concentration in buckwheat, soy lecithin and legumes such as lentil, chick peas and garbanzo beans. The recommended dosage for supplementation is 600-1200 milligrams daily.
Berberine. This natural alkaloid originated in China and India where it was used in Ayurvedic medicine. It’s found in the herbs goldenseal, goldthread and tree turmeric. Research has shown that it lowers blood glucose levels and in one study, those taking 500 milligrams of berberine daily for three months showed the same medical benefit as the drug metformin in diabetics.
In other words, berberine was able to control blood sugar levels as effectively as the most commonly used prescription drug. Other studies point out that this alkaloid can improve insulin sensitivity. The recommended dosage is 500 milligrams, three times daily.
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