Many conventionally treated patients with diabetes do not take supplements, and the medical establishment sends a mixed message about their usefulness. For instance, the American Diabetic Association, the most significant organization devoted to diabetic care in America, has a very odd view of supplements.
On the one hand, the organization sponsors a highly respected peer-reviewed diabetes journal called Diabetes Care, and this journal regularly publishes studies on the benefits of supplements, vitamins, minerals, nutraceuticals, and botanicals. But here's a direct quote from the ADA describing their position on using supplements:
"There is no clear evidence of benefit from vitamin or mineral supplements for people with diabetes who do not have underlying vitamin or mineral deficiencies. Nor is there evidence to support the use of cinnamon or other herbs or supplements for the treatment of diabetes."
Contrary to this statement, many studies have shown the positive benefits of taking supplements in diabetic patients. Here's why a patient should receive supplements as part of an effective diabetes protocol:
Antioxidants. Damage to a diabetic body from years of high glucose levels can cause the development of diabetic complications due to pro-oxidative biochemical pathways. Antioxidant supplementation can help your body stop rampant oxidative damage.
Deficiencies. Many people in the West, including diabetic patients, are nutrient deficient. High serum glucose can cause the loss of many nutrients—such as zinc, chromium, and magnesium—from the body through the kidneys, and some medications patients take (for example, metformin and proton pump inhibitors) can cause nutrient deficiencies by reducing absorption from the gut. Also, the unhealthy diet many type 2 diabetes patients have eaten for years may have been deficient in essential fatty acids, vitamin D3, and other nutrients.
Improved glucose control. Some supplements have good data showing that they can be beneficial for decreasing insulin resistance at the cellular level, enabling glucose to enter the cell more easily.
Studies have shown that supplements can help lower fasting and after-meal glucose, lower A1C values (the level of hemoglobin proteins on red blood cells covered by glucose, the key monitoring tool for glucose regulation) and lower cholesterol and triglycerides.
Supplements can also help reduce the frequency of hypoglycemic and hyperglycemic events.1-3
Reduced appetite and cravings. Some supplements can be very helpful in reducing cravings for food, especially for carbohydrates.
Improved energy and mood. Nutrients can help elevate energy and mood in several ways. Fluctuating glucose levels all day can cause irritability and other unstable moods, and feeling like a victim of diabetes instead of a victor over it can negatively affect self-esteem.
Nutrients can help increase energy by supplying cells with all they need to work better.
Nutrients such as omega-3 oils and bioavailable folic acid are both associated with helping to reduce depression and anxiety.4,5
If a patient is eating healthier, does not have cravings, has good energy and mood, and has lower glucose levels, he or she will be able to lose weight much more quickly and effectively.
Finland has the highest per capita occurrence of type 1 diabetes in the world. As a result, researchers in Finland, as well as in other countries, have done extensive research focused on which supplements can be used with infants to help reduce the risk of developing type 1 diabetes later in their lives.
Two main nutrients, fish oils, and vitamin D3, have been highlighted in these studies.6,7
Probiotics have also been shown to be helpful for glycemic control.8
A good multivitamin and mineral supplement, vitamins D3, probiotics, niacinamide and omega-3 fatty acids with extra magnesium, zinc, vanadium, and potassium should be part of every diabetic's toolkit.
But some lesser-known supplements can also have a major effect in helping you to master your diabetes.
The Pro-Holistic Holistic Care Advantage
It is important to get properly tested before starting any supplement or nutrition program. By receiving a comprehensive blood panel and tissue mineral analysis, an individualized program can be compiled for you by an experienced health professional. Don’t guess at what you may or may not need. Ask us about how to get started!
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Dr. Rae and Dr. Vargas