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Is it safe to take supplements if I have diabetes?

Janis Jibrin, MS, RD
Nutrition & Dietetics Specialist

Supplements can cause real damage if they are taken improperly; some can have adverse effects with long-term or high-dosage use; and many can react with your diabetes medications. At best, they can be a royal waste of money. If you do decide to use supplements, we cannot emphasize strongly enough how important it is to always run your plan by your health care practitioner.

The Best Life Guide to Managing Diabetes and Pre-Diabetes

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The Best Life Guide to Managing Diabetes and Pre-Diabetes

Bob Greene has helped millions of Americans become fit and healthy with his life-changing Best Life plan. Now, for the first time, Oprah's trusted expert on diet and fitness teams up with a leading...

Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body becomes resistant to insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas that is required to produce energy. Therefore, some people turn to dietary supplements and natural substances like cinnamon and chromium to help improve the way their bodies produce or respond to insulin. Others feel there may be some benefit to taking supplements or eating foods containing alpha-lipoic acid (ALA). ALAs contain antioxidants, which are known to help prevent cell damage. Other studies are being conducted to determine whether natural substances such as garlic may help to lower blood glucose levels. However, there is no scientific evidence that any of these supplements help treat type 2 diabetes.

There are a variety of medication for the treatment of diabetes, such as biguanides (such as metformin), sulfonylureas (such as glyburide and glipizide), thiazolidinediones (such as pioglitzone and rosiglitizone) and many more. Since this is a decision that should be discussed with your doctor to see which medication would be best suited for you, it is a good idea to speak to your doctor to find out more about the available options. While supplements, such as cinnamon tablets for glucose control, may work for some people, they may not be good for everyone. It is a good idea to let your doctor know before starting any supplement to make sure it is safe for you to take.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.