Supplement of the Month

As part of our Food for Thought section, we will begin profiling a nutritional supplement every month.

Research indicates that some vitamins, herbs and supplements may be beneficial to diabetes control. Always check with your diabetes care team before adding one to your regimen, as some may be unsafe for you or could interact with your other medications.

What follows is a summary of research explaining the benefits of some nutritional supplements, as well as their recommended daily dosages.

  • Alpha-lipoic acid (lipoic acid): May help to relieve nerve pain
  • The recommended daily dosage is 100 to 600 mg

  • Benflotiamine: May help to prevent smallblood-vessel problems
  • The recommended daily dosage is 4 to 600 mg

  • Chromium: May lower A1C levels
  • The recommended daily dosage is 400 to 800 mcg

  • Cinnamon: May improve blood glucose levels
  • The recommended daily dosage is 1/8th to 1 full teaspoon per meal

  • Fenugreek: May improve blood glucose control
  • The recommended dosage is 5 to 30 g each time, three times daily

  • Fish oil: May benefit heart health
  • Caution if you are taking other blood thinners such as Coumadin, aspirin or vitamin E The recommended daily dosage is up to 3 g

  • Ginseng (American and Asian): Was thought to improve blood glucose control but recent studies show little if any effect
  • The recommended daily dosage is 200 mg

  • Magnesium: May improve insulin sensitivity
  • Two daily doses of 400 mg each are recommended, but it is best to start at lower doses and slowly bring the dose up to the maximum

  • Nopal (prickly pear): May increase insulin sensitivity
  • The recommended daily dosage is two capsules with a meal three times daily

  • Pycnogenol (pine bark extract): May improve blood vessel and retinal health
  • The recommended daily dosage is one to two 30-mg tablets

  • Psyllium: May slow glucose absorption
  • The recommended dosage is one or two capsules with meals, once or twice daily

  • Quercetin: May offer antioxidant protection
  • The recommended dosage is 100 mg, three times daily

  • Vitamin C: May lower heart disease risk
  • The recommended daily dosage is 200 to 500 mg

  • Vitamin E: May lower A1C levels
  • Recent research has not shown vitamin E to offer heart disease prevention properties as once thought. Doses of vitamin E should not exceed 400 international units (IU). If you take cholesterol-lowering meds, consult your doctor before taking vitamin E.

Some of the dosage recommendations included in this article were provided by Keith Campbell, RPh, CDE, professor of pharmacy at Washington State University; James F. Balch, MD, co-author of “Prescription for Nutritional Healing: A Practical A-Z Reference to Drug-Free Remedies Using Vitamins, Minerals, Herbs & Food Supplements” (Avery Books, 2000); Steven Bratman, MD, the medical authority for; David Edelberg, MD, the medical authority for; Nature’s Sunshine Products, Inc.; Nutrition 21 (the maker of Diachrome); Herbal Information Center; International Diabetes Center; “Herbs and Supplements in Diabetes” (IDC Publishing, 2003)

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