Diabetes and Dietary Supplements
Can dietary supplements really help control diabetes? If you are like many people with diabetes, you might wonder whether the ads you have seen or heard are true. Take a few minutes to learn how diabetes and dietary supplements can be a good mix -- or a set-up for trouble.
What Are Dietary Supplements?
Dietary supplements are vitamins, minerals, and other nutritional components such as herbs. You take them by mouth. Dietary supplements can sometimes provide extra nutritional benefit to people with special health problems, including diabetes. However, most people with diabetes will still have to take traditional prescription medicine to keep their blood sugar levels in control.
How Dietary Supplements May Help Control Diabetes
So far, there is not enough research to support specific recommendations for diabetes and dietary supplements. Ongoing studies point to three minerals that may be helpful to people with diabetes:
- Chromium may help control blood glucose levels and aid weight loss.
- Magnesium levels are often low in people who have problems with insulin secretion and in people with complications of diabetes. Whether magnesium dietary supplements can help relieve or reduce these problems is still unknown.
- Vanadium may increase the body's sensitivity to insulin.
How Dietary Supplements Can Hinder Diabetes Control
If you are not cautious, diabetes and dietary supplements can be a dangerous mix. Here's why:
- Some supplements have been found to be contaminated with substances other than those stated on the label.
- Some supplements may interact with medication or other supplements, such as herbs, increasing or decreasing their effects. St. John’s wort, for example, is known to have many drug interactions and should be avoided with other medications.
Deciding Whether to Use Dietary Supplements for Diabetes
Talk with your doctor. That's the first step in deciding whether or not to mix diabetes and dietary supplements. He or she can discuss the possible benefits and risks of dietary supplements.
Your doctor or pharmacist can also check that any supplements you take will not interact dangerously with your medications.
Be sure to list any dietary supplements you take whenever you tell your doctor or any other health care professional about your medications.