Vitamins and Supplements for Diabetics: What To Take 
(and what not to take)

Nutrition is always the first stop to get nourishment but for times when it might not be enough (because of illness, a chronic condition, stress, etc.), it could be a good step to ask your doctor what supplements you can take to bridge the gap between what you eat and what your body needs. With dietary issues and limitations because of diabetes, you can very well benefit from supplements to ensure you get your required essential nutrients.  

So If you're struggling to get these nutrients from diet alone, ask your doctor what supplement is right to help you manage your diabetes, since some supplements may help relieve diabetes symptoms, but others can affect and raise blood sugar levels. 

Read on to get more information on how to choose the right ones. 

Which Supplements Can I Take?

The following are the most important ones that help with diabetes management:

  • Alpha-lipoic acid (ALA) -  Alpha-lipoic acid (ALA) is an antioxidant that is often used to help improve symptoms of diabetic neuropathy, a type of nerve damage caused by diabetes. It can lead to numbness or pain in your feet, legs, or hands. It can also cause problems with digestion and sexual function. (1) 

    Getting alpha-lipoic acid (ALA) for diabetic neuropathy may improve your blood glucose levels. Because high doses might cause side effects, T]talk to your healthcare provider before beginning treatment with ALA supplements.

  • Vitamin B12 - Vitamin B12 is helpful for type 2 diabetics who are more likely to have a vitamin B12 deficiency due to the use of metformin, a common type 2 diabetes drug that can lead to low levels of vitamin B12. (2)

  • Biotin - This B vitamin plays an important role in breaking down proteins, fats and carbohydrates into usable energy. Biotin also helps your body use insulin more effectively. As a result, it may be helpful for type 2 diabetics who have trouble controlling their blood sugar levels. (3)

  • Carnitine (L-Carnitine, Acetyl L-Carnitine) -  Research has found that carnitine may improve glucose utilization in non-diabetic, as well as diabetic patients. A recent study suggested that it may improve insulin sensitivity and glucose disposal  in type 2 diabetic patients. (4)

  • Manganese - Manganese deficiency is common in some groups of people with diabete, and it may even be thought to be a cause of diabetes. Its intake, however,  has been associated with a lesser risk for type 2 diabetes. (5)

Which Supplements Should I Avoid?

There are supplements that can have an adverse reaction with certain medications, thereby posing health risks.  The worst offenders are those that contain herbs, vitamins, or minerals that can increase blood sugar levels or interact with diabetes medications.

Here are some of the common supplements that should be avoided if you have diabetes:

  • Chromium -  Chromium deficiency might lead to high blood sugar levels, especially  If your doctor has diagnosed you with kidney disease. Taking this will make your condition worse and can damage your kidneys further. (2)

  • Vitamin E and St. John’s Wort - People with heart disease who use blood thinners to prevent dangerous clots may want to avoid taking extra Vitamin E or St. John’s wort, as these supplements might increase their risk of bleeding. Avoid these supplements if you take warfarin, apixaban, dabigatran, heparin, and rivaroxaban. (2)

  • Niacin - People with diabetes use niacin to raise their good cholesterol, but it can also cause a spike in blood sugar levels, which can lead to problems with your diabetes. Talk to your health care provider to determine if it’s safe for you to take. (2)

What Can I Do? 

When certain vitamins and minerals are deficient in the body, your blood sugar control can be negatively affected. Because diabetes causes your body to use up its store of nutrients more rapidly than normal, supplement use would usually be part of your medication regimen. However, using supplements should always take place in a conversation with your healthcare provider, with the view that a healthy diet should be the first place to get your nutrients.  

When it comes to trying out new supplements, take the advice from well-meaning friends with a grain of salt. When in doubt, search for the product in the  Food and Drug Administration  Verification Portal.

With all these things in mind, it might seem that a life of diabetes is just a  strict routine of what not to do. So to make it easier,  start with small steps: Discuss with your doctor to come up with a diet plan, look for healthier alternatives for food that you have to avoid. Finding it hard  to exercise? Just take the first step and start moving. Because health also involves your mind and emotions, keep a positive attitude despite difficult moment and you shall soon be on the right track to a good life, even with diabetes

Shop for your supplements here , and click here to shop for Diabetes Care products.