Dietary Supplements for Diabetes

Problems with diabetes management can lead people to look for additional products that promise instant results. But not everything is so simple. Due to the direct relationship between diabetes and nutrition, many patients turn to nutritional supplements. A serious influence on the decision to purchase nutritional supplements is provided by advertising, where the positive effect of dietary supplements can be deliberately exaggerated.

In this regard, it is very important to remember that a varied and balanced diet provides the body with all the nutrients needed to achieve and maintain optimal control of diabetes. What do scientists say about this?


The beneficial effects of dietary and herbal supplements in the management of diabetes are questionable. For some patients, they can be very helpful, and for some, there is most likely a “placebo effect” when the state of health improves from a person’s belief in the effectiveness of the impact, although the treatment itself is not at all effective.

Scientists have conducted hundreds of studies on this topic, during which many theories have been put forward regarding nutritional supplements. Scientific communities study and evaluate research. In the case of diabetes, that community is the American Diabetes Association , which publishes guidelines for managing diabetes each year based on research and scientific consensus.

These recommendations include nutritional advice that has been found to be effective for patients with diabetes. Papers published in 2014 focused on the use of supplements and herbal preparations for diabetes. Below are some excerpts from these recommendations:

  • Omega-3s : Recommendations for the consumption of omega-3 fatty acids to prevent or treat cardiovascular disease have not been established. In addition, diabetic patients taking these supplements did not experience significant improvements in blood sugar levels.
  • Vitamins and minerals : People with diabetes are advised not to take vitamin and mineral supplements on an ongoing basis. However, this recommendation does not apply to some patient populations at high risk of vitamin and mineral deficiencies (eg, pregnant or lactating women, the elderly, vegetarians, and those on restrictive diets). In these cases, it may be necessary to take vitamin and mineral supplements on an ongoing basis.
  • Antioxidants : Despite considerable interest from many researchers, a positive association between the risks and benefits of antioxidant supplementation has not yet been established. In addition, there are doubts about the long-term safety of taking vitamin E, vitamin C, and carotene supplements.
  • Chromium and Magnesium : In the past few years, extensive research has been conducted to determine the beneficial effects of these supplements for people with type 2 diabetes. Research using more reliable methods is needed to provide recommendations for the use of these supplements on an ongoing basis.
  • Cinnamon : Even though this spice is very commonly used in Mediterranean cuisine, there is not enough information about the benefits of using cinnamon and other herbs.
  • There is evidence that many other supplements (such as ginseng, aloe vera, and stevia ) have a beneficial effect on blood glucose levels. However, the volume of studies published to date is insufficient to issue recommendations, since not only a positive effect, but also safety must be confirmed.

In this regard, the American Diabetes Association draws attention to the difficulty of assessing the relationship between the benefits and risks of such supplements, since in many cases they do not contain a stable dose of the active substance.
It is very important that all people with diabetes tell their doctors about the types of dietary supplements they are taking. This will allow you to make a more informed decision based on individual needs and possible interactions with your medications.

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