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Shopping for Supplements With Diabetes

By , Managing Editor
Tuesday, May 22, 2012
Diabetes Supplements
1.Jarrow Formulas Citrus Bergamot
2.Bell Blood Sugar Metabolism
3.Liver Medic Sugar Balance
4.Nature's Plus Ultra Sugar Control

Diabetes is one of the most prevalent medical conditions in the United States. According to the 2011 National Diabetes Fact Sheet and the American Diabetes Association (ADA), 25.8 million Americans (8.3 percent of the entire U.S. population) are living with diabetes. Of that total, seven million haven't yet been diagnosed. Seventy-nine million Americans are also classified as prediabetic. 

With so many Americans of all ages living with this condition, the health industry is responding with great supplements formulated just for diabetics to manage diabetes and overall wellness. 

Diabetes 101
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), diabetes is defined as a chronic disease where high levels of sugar are present in the blood. Someone who has been diagnosed with diabetes cannot properly transfer sugar to the fat, liver and muscle cells to be used as energy later on, either because their pancreas produces insufficient insulin (type 1 diabetes), their body's cells are not responding to the insulin (type 2 diabetes) or both. Women can also develop gestational diabetes during pregnancy.

If you have diabetes, staying on top of your condition is of utmost importance. Blood sugar and insulin levels must be monitored and kept balanced at all times. Complications of diabetes include heart disease and stroke, high blood pressure, blindness, kidney disease, neuropathy (nervous system disease) and amputation. 

What to Get
The amount of products available can be overwhelming and it's not always easy to know what to choose. These are some common supplements to look for:

  • Bitter Melon -- You can take this supplement to help lower blood sugar levels safely. Bitter melon helps block sugar absorption in the intestine and helps your body use it more effectively as energy.
  • Gymnema Sylvestre -- This herb reduces your body's ability to detect sugar and helps with glucose utilization to control blood sugar levels.
  • Glucose Tolerance Factor (GTF) Chromium -- Chromium has been shown to help transport glucose to the cells to be stored as energy, like insulin does.
  • Magnesium -- This mineral can help your body produce more of the insulin it needs to control blood sugar levels.
  • Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA) -- This antioxidant helps to prevent glucose from attaching to proteins. It protects the health of the central nervous system (reducing pain) as well as the eyes.
  • Prickly Pear Cactus -- You can either take this fruit in supplement form or eat/drink it on its own. It may work similarly to insulin to lower blood sugar and is also high in fiber.
  • Gamma-Linolenic Acid (GLA) -- This fatty acid can help prevent and/or reduce nerve pain. You can find it in evening primrose oil. 
  • Bilberry --The antioxidants contained in this fruit (related to the blueberry) protect the health of your eyes. These antioxidants keep the tiny blood vessels in the eyes from being damaged. 
  • Cinnamon Bark -- Not only does this supplement promote healthy blood lipid and glucose levels, but it's also a digestive aid.

These supplements are still being studied for their effectiveness in helping individuals with diabetes. Always consult your physician before taking any supplements in addition to or in place of your prescribed medications.

What to Avoid
Knowing what to stay away from is just as important as knowing what to buy. Here are some guidelines:

  • Any product with an incomplete label should be avoided. Make sure you can see everything that's in the supplement as well as the proper dosage.
  • Stay away from products without the manufacturer's information listed on the package. Know where your supplement is coming from and do your research before taking it.
  • Asian ginseng has been shown to lower blood glucose levels too drastically.
  • Stimulants like caffeine can cause unwanted blood sugar spikes and crashes.
  • Added sugar, found in protein powders or other nutritional products, can also affect blood sugar levels. Try looking for natural sweeteners like stevia. 

Getting Started
If you have diabetes and are interested in starting or changing your supplement regimen, here are some tips from the ADA:

  • Be forthcoming and honest with your doctor about your supplements and why you're taking them and include them on your list of medications.
  • Ask about possible side effects or potential drug interactions.
  • Know how the supplement could affect your body (i.e. blood glucose, cholesterol, etc.).
  • Follow instructions for dosing from your doctor such as using one supplement at a time to start or doing additional blood glucose checks to determine how the supplement is affecting you.
  • Never stop taking any prescription medication without first consulting your doctor.

Diabetes means a lifelong commitment to your health. Herbal supplements can help you be your healthiest self.


Products you may like:

Natrol Alpha Lipoic Acid  Natrol Alpha Lipoic Acid 
Why you may like this product? Taking alpha lipoic acid can help someone diagnosed with diabetes manage their blood sugar levels. ALA can also protect the central nervous system, preventing or reducing pain, which is a common complication of diabetes.
Now Foods Cinnamon Bark 600 mg  Now Foods Cinnamon Bark 600 mg 
Why you may like this product? Cinnamon bark helps your body better utilize glucose for energy throughout the body. This supplement provides 1,200 mg of cinnamon, which also has antioxidants to protect the heart.
Solaray Chromium GTF  Solaray Chromium GTF 
Why you may like this product? GTF chromium is one of the most highly recommended supplements for diabetics. This chromium helps your body transport glucose to the cells to be used as energy, much like insulin does.
Related Articles
Cinnamon Force: The Link Between Cinnamon and Blood Sugar
Dr. Taryn Forrelli is the director of medical education for New Chapter and a naturopathic physician. In this guest post, she explains the latest research behind cinnamon for blood sugar regulation and New Chapter's Cinnamon Force.
The State of Diabetes In Canada
Millions of Canadians are affected by diabetes, with diagnosis rates on the rise.
Bitter Melon Effective for Diabetes and High Blood Pressure
A vegetable popular in African and Chinese medicine, bitter melon can help regulate blood sugar, blood pressure and much more. Find out why "bitter" sounds so appealing.
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