Dietary supplements for type 2 diabetes patients are widely available and often heavily promoted. Yet the effectiveness of these products is frequently questioned. Critics argue they have little benefit at best and may be harmful if doses are too high. The US peak authority for complementary and alternative medicines (the NCCAM) has reviewed the medical evidence examining the effectiveness of these dietary supplements. It has published its findings online at its official website. The results are interesting and somewhat surprising.
Type 2 diabetes is the dominant form of diabetes. It accounts for at least ninety percent of all diabetes patients. Type 1 and 3 diabetes, one affecting young children the other pregnant women, are also serious but affect far fewer people.
All forms of diabetes impair the body’s ability to convert food into energy. The body breaks down most foods into glucose, being a form of sugar. Glucose is the main fuel for the body. To Reversirol assist glucose to enter body cells, the body produces insulin. People with diabetes do not make sufficient insulin or their body cells do not interact properly with insulin, or both. Without treatment, glucose builds up in the blood instead of moving into the cells. Over time, the high blood glucose levels can damage many critical parts of the body such as the heart, veins, nerves, eyes, kidneys, nerves, skin and feet. Such complications are preventable by controlling blood glucose, as well as blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
People with type 2 diabetes have difficulty in keeping their blood glucose in a healthy range. The main conventional strategies for managing this issue are a healthy diet, exercise, and vigilant monitoring of blood glucose level. Many diabetes sufferers also take prescription pills, insulin, or both in strict consultation with their physician.
Additionally, some diabetes sufferers choose to take dietary supplements. These supplements have several potential benefits but the focus of diabetes sufferers is to better manage blood glucose. Common dietary supplements used by sufferers include alpha-lipoic acid, chromium and omega-3 fatty acids.
Alpha-lipoic acid (ALA, also known as thioctic acid) is an antioxidant. It protects against cell damage. ALA occurs naturally in certain foods such as liver, spinach, broccoli, and potatoes. The scientific evidence on the effectiveness of this supplement for diabetes patients is mixed. One cautionary point that emerges from medical studies is that ALA might lower blood glucose too much, so people with diabetes that take this supplement are urged by the NCCAM to monitor their blood sugar very closely.
Chromium is an essential trace mineral for all individuals. The body requires only small amounts. Chromium is found in many foods, good sources being whole grain items, red and white meats as well as some spices, fruits and vegetables. The NCCAM found that the scientific evidence on the effectiveness of chromium supplements for diabetes patients is, as in the case of ALA, mixed. The NCCAM also highlights that, for people with diabetes, too much chromium might cause blood sugar levels to go too low. Moreover, at the other end of the spectrum, high doses can cause serious side effects, including kidney problems that are of particular concern to diabetes sufferers.
Omega-3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fatty acids. They are beneficial for health and well-being. They come from a variety of foods such as salmon and other fish, vegetable oil, walnuts, and wheat germ. Omega-3 supplements are available as capsules or oils (such as fish oil). Omega-3s are important for a number of bodily functions including the movement of calcium and other substances in and out of body cells as well as cell division and growth. Again, the scientific evidence on the effectiveness of this supplement for diabetes patients is mixed. The weight of evidence does not point to supplements being of positive benefit in terms of better blood glucose control by diabetes patients.
The Bethesda-based NCCAM is the US federal government’s lead agency for scientific research on the diverse medical and health care systems, practices, and products that are not considered part of conventional medicine. Its examination of the main diet supplements for diabetes sufferers indicates that the broad consensus of empirical studies appears to be that dietetic supplements for ALA, chromium and omega-3s do not assist type 2 diabetes sufferers in controlling blood glucose. If this conclusion were correct, the use of supplements would appear unnecessary. In particular, more well designed studies over long time periods for dietary supplements for type 2 diabetes patients are required.