9 Most Useful Supplements for Type 2 Diabetes, According to Science
Type 2 diabetes is not really a disease. It is more like a physical condition that affects every aspect of your life. It is not easy to deal with, especially because there is no magic pill that can bring everything back to normal again.
Recently a good friend of mine was diagnosed with this condition. After 3 years, she managed to reverse the process entirely. While she had to completely change her diet, here we won’t go into it (check here for some insights about that if you like). This post is based on her experiences about using supplementation related to her condition.
The primary underlying reason for diabetes type 2 is insulin resistance. And usually prior to insulin resistance comes leptin resistance. Both insulin and leptin are hormones, and one of the main reasons for this hormonal imbalance comes from wrong eating habits.
It takes a lot of time, probably years, to first become leptin and then insulin resistant. According to some sources, you are likely leptin resistant 5 to 7 years prior to becoming insulin resistant.
Likewise, logic dictates that it takes a lot of time to reverse the process. That means that you have to do everything you can for the cells of your body reclaim the sensitivity to insulin. That usually mean choosing proper diet for diabetes and being resolute to change your entire lifestyle.
During this process, supplementation can play a significant role.
In this post we will consider some of the most important supplements for diabetics. They can both work toward reestablishing insulin sensitivity, and preventing the side effects of insulin resistance. They will help you manage your condition more easily.
Most of the supplements given below are great for maintaining optimal health as well. They could be recommended to healthy people as well.
The supplements are given in no particular order. You won’t find any drugs in this list, although, some of the supplements may be an integral part of many over the counter prescription drugs.
I’m not going to give any specific dosage. For that, and for the possible contraindication with prescription drugs you might be taking, you should consult with your physician or pharmacist.
Table of Contents
Supplements for Diabetes Type 2
Supplementing with the best supplements and vitamins for diabetics can help your body increase the intake of nutrients that improve your body’s capacity to use insulin. As a result, this will reduce the blood sugar levels. In the following we will present the supplements that have at least some scientific support.
This essential nutrient is lacking in our nutrition. Most Americans are magnesium deficient. Probably because the soil is depleted and in combination with our standard diet which is also void of magnesium, we have to take it as a supplement form. This should apply equally to diabetics and non diabetics. Diabetics probably suffer from additional Mg deficiency. The best time to take it is before going to bed.
You can take magnesium orally, or in a form of gel for topical use, which in this case enables much easier Mg absorption directly in the bloodstream.
Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA)
Alpha Lipoic Acid improves insulin sensitivity and helps you fight diabetes naturally. It is a type of antioxidant compound, it helps turning glucose into fuel (thus improving the insulin sensitivity), it helps the absorption of vitamin B, it improves the bioavailability of glutathione, and it acts as toxin chelator. Some foods, like broccoli, red meat, liver, tomatoes, peas, Brussel sprouts, Brewer’s yeast, and spinach contain some ALA. Also your body produces some on its own. But the amounts are not that high, and you would have to supplement with Alpha Lipoic Acid even if you diet is rich in ALA. For diabetics with complications, such as peripheral neuropathy, ALA is a must, although probably in higher dosage that usual. It also reduces the risk of nerve damage.
Omega 3 (EPA and DHA)
This is also one of the supplements everyone should use. Unless your diet is rich in wild caught fish and seafood, you would have to supplement with omega 3, specifically if you care about your health. DHA is especially important for the brain, but it can be very hard to be obtained from plant sources. Both EPA and DHA are omega 3 fatty acids that will help your body fight inflammation naturally, but DHA is more important. By far the best solution is using krill oil, which is a very healthy and sustainable source. You can start from lower dosages and work your way up where you will notice an improvement in your metabolism.
This is another supplement that prevents diabetic neuropathy. Q10 is found in the mitochondria where it helps the production of energy and prevents cellular damage. Science confirms that taking coenzym Q10 helps reduce the risks of neuropathy. CoQ10 supplementation can improve long-term glycaemic control. Apart from people with diabetes type 2, the list of conditions includes heart disease, high blood pressure, and cholesterol problems.
Unlike quercetin, Dihydroquercetin is highly bioavailable nutrient in its native form. As a bioactive molecule, it protects people with diabetes from cataract and macular degeneration, a common complication of diabetes. Dihydroquercetin (aslo called taxifolin) does that by promoting blood flow to the eye, and inhibits the activity of some enzymes in the eye lens. In general, it also protect the entire vascular system. This supplement shows a strong synergistic effect if combined with Vitamin C, which is another recommended supplement for diabetics.
Vitamins from the B Complex
Diabetics tend to have deficiency of vitamin B1, thiamine. Vitamin B3, niacin, can lower the levels of blood glucose, but also lower the levels of bad LDL cholesterol. Niacin also helps with neuropathies. Besides, diabetics tend to have high homocystiene levels, and homocystiene is a harmful substance. To counteract homocystiene, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, and folic acid are often used. So, people with diabetes can greatly benefit from the vitamins from the B complex. Not to mention that if you are taking drugs based on metformin, you will be severely B12 deficient. This is another reason to supplement with vitamins from this group. By far the best natural source of vitamin B is nutritional yeast.
Diabetes usually involves high degree of oxidative damage. In a double blind study, it was found that supplementation with vitamin C can reduce blood glucose. Given their many protective benefits, Vitamin C and other antioxidants can only help reduce the damage caused by free radicals. However, please note that the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of 60 mg per day is way too low. Talk to your doctor, as you would likely have to go ten times that or even more. If you have problems absorbing vitamin C because of acid reflux, take the more bioavailable liposomal form.
Lack of Vitamin D can negatively influence the levels of glucose in the blood, and worsen insulin sensitivity. Supplementation with Vitamin D can improve glycemic control and insulin sensitivity. The hormone insulin is responsible for utilization of glucose by the cells for energy. Besides, Vitamin D is probably the most important supplement if you are serious about optimal performance and good health. It underlies the production of hormones like estrogen, HGH, and testosterone. Our body can synthesize Vitamin D on its own, so the best way to get enough Vitamin D is by sensible sun exposure. The next best thing is to take supplements in a form of D3. Along with Vitamin D you should take Vitamin K2 – this is a great combination.
Bitter Melon enables better blood glucose control in a natural way. It contains chemicals that mimic the action of insulin. By helping your body to secrete less insulin, bitter melon helps improve glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity. Bitter Melon can be found in many different forms, including juice and supplements. If you opt in for pills or supplements, start with lower doses and increase the dosage according to the response of your body.
Spices (Cinnamon, Turmeric, Ginger, Fenugreek)
These spices are not really supplements, although some of them can be purchased in a form of pills. Cinnamon lowers the blood lipids like cholesterol and triglycerides, reduces inflammation and reduces blood sugar levels. Turmeric has been used to lower blood glucose in the Ayurvedic medicine. Fenugreek is often recommended to people with diabetes type 2. Several studies indicate that fenugreek seeds can improve some symptoms associated with type 2 diabetes. When you use them as supplements, the active form of the herb may be extracted and intensified, e.g., curcumin in Turmeric. You don’t necessarily have to buy them though. Using them in a form of spice is perfectly acceptable: just sprinkle your foods and beverages with cinnamon, turmeric, ginger, or fenugreek powder.
Other supplements people are excited about include chromium, and vanadium. Some people find them very useful, but they either may cause problems in the long run or doesn’t seem to work well for reducing the blood sugar levels.
Take Home Message
These supplements wont’ mean squat if you don’t change your eating habits. But if you eliminate processed foods, avoid net carbs, avoid harmful vegetable oils, and start cooking from scratch, they will help reduce the symptoms of diabetes and help fight the most severe complications. In the long run, they may even help you reverse your type 2 diabetes entirely.
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