Studies on Diabetes Supplements in Management of Diabetes


Diabetes is a chronic disease because of less insulin in body compared to healthy individual or resistance to insulin.

Carbohydrate, fat and protein are the major nutrients in our diet. Body cells utilize carbohydrate and fat for energy production and proteins or growth and development. After absorption from foods, these nutrients first enter into blood and then into cells. Insulin is required for entry of blood sugar into cells. Because of less insulin or resistance to insulin in diabetes, blood sugar cannot enter into cells and remain in blood.

Studies have shown that diabetes supplements like chromium, alpha lipoic acid and vanadium are useful in the management of diabetes.

Chromium supplements in diabetes:

Diabetes is associated with low concentrations of chromium in blood, so, an early, long-term addition of chromium as diabetes nutritional supplement to the standard therapy has been recommended in several studies. Some latest clinical reports also support the safety and therapeutic value of chromium supplementation for the management of high cholesterol and sugar in subjects with diabetes.

Chromium increases insulin receptor numbers and insulin binding to cells. Since chromium acts by increasing insulin efficiency, so lower amount of insulin is required in presence of chromium.

A clinical study published in ‘Diabetes Care. (2006, August)’ has shown that chromium supplementation in subjects with type 2 diabetes significantly improves insulin sensitivity and glucose control. Chromium supplementation also reduced body weight gain and fat accumulation .

A review article published in Diabetes Technol Ther. 2006 December has mentioned that 13 of 15 clinical studies involving a total of 1,690 subjects reported significant improvement in at least one outcome of glycemic control. (Glycemic control is a medical term used for blood sugar levels in a person with diabetes). Chromium supplementation reduced blood sugar, cholesterol, and triglyceride levels and also reduced the requirements for drugs in diabetes.

Reduction in blood sugar and improvement in insulin sensitivity with chromium as diabetes supplement decreases the risk of long-term diabetes complications.

Alpha lipoic acid as diabetes supplement:

Alpha lipoic acid is a powerful antioxidant. Antioxidant is a substance, which can neutralize the free radicals. Free radical can cause damage to major organs like blood vessels, heart, brain etc.

High blood sugar in diabetes increases free radical formation in body, which leads to complications of diabetes like atherosclerosis, heart problems, nerve damage and cataract. Antioxidant decreases free radicals in body and decreases risk of complications.

Numerous publications have confirmed the beneficial effects of lipoic acid in therapy of many diseases like diabetes, atherosclerosis, degenerative processes in neurons, diseases of joints,

A clinical study on diabetic patients treated with alpha lipoic acid was published in ‘hormones (Athens). 2006 Oct-Dec 5(4)’. The result of the study has proved that short-term oral alpha-lipoic acid treatment as diabetes nutritional supplement increases peripheral insulin sensitivity.

Improvement in insulin sensitivity can improve both blood sugar control and cardiovascular risk factors in diabetes.

In diabetes, blood sugar cannot enter into cells because of decrease response to insulin by body cells. Alpha lipoic acid improves the insulin response and enhances glucose uptake by cells, thereby improve the blood sugar levels.

Diabetic neuropathy or nerve damage is a complication of diabetes. It is a progressive disease, which can cause pain, loss of sensation and weakness, in the feet and sometimes in the hands. Studies have shown that alpha lipoic acid is effective in management of diabetic nerve damage and reduces pain associated with neuropathy.

Vanadium supplement for diabetes:

Vanadium is a trace mineral required by the body in small quantities. Numerous studies have shown that vanadium has insulin-like effects in liver, skeletal muscle, and adipose tissue. It may improve glucose control in people with diabetes.

Along with chromium and alpha lipoic acid, some other diabetes supplements like evening primrose oil, fenugreek and some herbs also help in the management of diabetes.

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