Type 2 Diabetes: Supplements Overview
1. What is diabetes? continued...
Some people develop a condition called insulin resistance before they
develop type 2 diabetes. When insulin resistance is present, the body does not
respond properly to the insulin it has released to lower blood glucose. So, the
pancreas releases more insulin to try to keep up with the excess glucose. If
the pancreas cannot produce enough insulin, over time this leads to type 2
diabetes. Obesity, aging, and lack of exercise can all play a role in
developing insulin resistance and heightening the risk for diabetes.
To find out more about diabetes and related conditions, contact the National
Diabetes Information Clearinghouse.
2. How is diabetes managed in conventional medicine?
In conventional medicine'sb approach, people with diabetes learn
to keep their blood glucose in as healthy a range as possible. They do this by
following a healthy food plan, being physically active, controlling their
weight, and testing their blood glucose regularly. Some people also need to
take medicine, such as insulin injections or prescription diabetes pills. When
lifestyle changes and medical treatment are combined to rigorously maintain and
control blood sugar in the normal range, this approach to managing type 2
diabetes minimizes the serious complications of the disease. This enables
patients to lead productive, full lives.
b Conventional medicine is medicine as practiced by
holders of M.D. (medical doctor) or D.O. (doctor of osteopathy) degrees and by
their allied health professionals, such as nurses, physical therapists, and
dietitians. Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is a group of diverse
medical and health care systems, practices, and products that are not presently
considered to be part of conventional medicine. Complementary medicine is used
along with conventional medicine, and alternative medicine is used
instead of conventional medicine. Some practitioners of conventional
medicine are also practitioners of CAM.
3. What CAM therapies are discussed in this report?
There are many different CAM therapies used for diabetes and its
complications, and it is beyond the scope of this report to discuss them all.
Scientific information on any CAM therapy for diabetes can be sought in the
PubMed database on the Internet and from the National Center for Complementary
and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) Clearinghouse (for both, see "For More
Information"). Overall, there have been few rigorous studies published on
the use of CAM approaches for type 2 diabetes. Most of the literature has
looked at herbal or other dietary supplements, which reflects the tradition in
certain whole medical systems
of using plant products with claimed effects on blood sugar. This report
focuses on six of the dietary supplements that people try for diabetes:
alpha-lipoic acid (ALA), chromium, coenzyme Q10, garlic, magnesium, and omega-3
About Dietary Supplements
Dietary supplements were defined in a law passed by Congress in 1994. A
dietary supplement must meet all of the following conditions:
- It is a product (other than tobacco) intended to supplement the diet, which
contains one or more of the following: vitamins; minerals; herbs or other
botanicals; amino acids; or any combination of the above ingredients.
- It is intended to be taken in tablet, capsule, powder, softgel, gelcap, or
- It is not represented for use as a conventional food or as a sole item of a
meal or the diet.
- It is labeled as being a dietary supplement.
Other important information about dietary supplements:
- They are regulated as foods, not drugs, so there could be quality issues in
the manufacturing process.
- Supplements can interact with prescribed or over-the-counter medicines, and
- "Natural" does not necessarily mean "safe" or
- Consult your health care provider before starting a supplement, especially
if you are pregnant or nursing, or considering giving a supplement to a