7 Supplements to Help Reduce Sugar in the Blood

Supplements to Help Reduce Sugar in the Blood

These supplements may help people suffering from diabetes. Over time, taking a diabetes medication with one of these supplements may allow your physician to decrease your dose of medication. However, supplements may not completely replace medication. Here are 7 supplements to help reduce sugar in the blood.

1. Probiotic Supplements

Damage to your gut bacteria, such as using antibiotics, are associated with an increased risk of multiple diseases, including diabetes. Probiotic supplements, which contain healthy bacteria or other microbes, provide many health benefits. It can improve the handling of carbohydrates in your body (1, 2).

Those who took probiotics for at least two months had a 16-mg / dl decrease in fasting blood sugar and a 0.53 percent decrease in A1C compared to those on placebo in a review of seven studies in people with type 2 diabetes (3).

People who took probiotics with over one bacterial species had an even greater decrease of 35 mg/dl in fasting blood sugar (4).

Animal studies suggest that by reducing inflammation and preventing the destruction of pancreatic cells that make insulin, probiotics may decrease blood sugar. There may also be several other pathways involved (5, 6).

Keep in mind: Probiotics are unlikely to cause damage. They may lead to severe infections in people with impaired immune systems under rare circumstances (7).

2. Cinnamon

Cinnamon products are made of the whole powder of cinnamon or an extract. Many studies suggest that it can reduce blood sugar and improve the control of diabetes (8,9).

Before breakfast and dinner, when people with prediabetes meaning 100–125 mg/dl fasting blood sugar took 250 mg of cinnamon extract for three months. They experienced an 8.4% decrease in fasting blood sugar compared to those on placebo (10).

In another three-month test, people with type 2 diabetes who took either 120 or 360 mg of cinnamon extract before breakfast reported an 11% or 14% drop in fasting blood sugar relative to those on placebo (11).

In contrast, their hemoglobin A1C, an average of three months of blood sugar levels, decreased by 0.67% or 0.92%. During the study, all participants took the same drug for diabetes (12).

Cinnamon can help the cells of your body respond better to insulin. This, in turn, enables sugar to enter your cells, reducing blood sugar (13).

The recommended dose of cinnamon extract before meals is 250 mg twice a day. It may be best to add 500 mg twice a day for a regular cinnamon supplement (14, 15).

Keep in mind: There is more coumarin in the common Cassia variety of cinnamon, a compound that can harm your liver in high quantities. Ceylon cinnamon is low in coumarin (16).

3. Vitamin D

Deficiency of vitamin D is considered as a potential risk factor for type 2 diabetes (17).

In one study, at the beginning of the study, 72 percent of participants with type 2 diabetes had vitamin D deficiency (18).

All fasting, blood sugar and A1C increased after two months of taking a 4,500-IU supplement of vitamin D daily. In fact, 48% of participants had an A1C showing good blood sugar control, compared to just 32% before the study (19).

Vitamin D will boost the function of pancreatic cells that make insulin and increase the sensitivity of your body to insulin (20, 21).

Keep in mind: Vitamin D can cause mild-to-moderate reactions with multiple types of medication, so ask for guidance from your doctor or pharmacist (22).

4. Magnesium

Low levels of magnesium are found in 38 percent of people with type 2 diabetes and are more common in people who do not have good control of their blood sugar (23).

In a systematic review, 8 out of 12 studies showed that giving healthy people or those with type 2 diabetes or prediabetes magnesium supplements for 6–24 weeks helped to reduce blood sugar levels as compared to placebo.

In addition, each 50 mg increase in magnesium intake resulted in a 3% decrease in fasting blood sugar in those who joined the low blood magnesium studies (24).

Magnesium is involved in natural insulin secretion and insulin action in the cells of your body. Dosage is usually 250–350 mg daily for people with diabetes. To maximize absorption, take magnesium with a meal (25, 26, 27).

Keep in mind: Avoid magnesium oxide that may increase the risk of diarrhea. Magnesium supplements can interact with multiple medicines, such as certain diuretics and antibiotics, so check with your doctor or pharmacist before you take any (28).

5. Chromium

Chromium deficiency reduces the ability of your body to use carbs converted into sugar for energy and increases the need for insulin (29).

In a review of 25 studies, in people with type 2 diabetes, chromium supplements reduced A1C by about 0.6 percent. The average decrease in fasting blood sugar was about 21 mg/dl compared to placebo (30, 31).

Small evidence suggests that in people with type 1 diabetes, chromium may also help lower blood sugar. Chromium can enhance insulin’s effects or promote insulin-producing pancreatic cell activity (32, 33).

A typical dose is 200 mcg per day, but for people with diabetes up to 1,000 mcg per day were tested and maybe more effective. Probably the best form of chromium is Chromium picolinate (34, 35).

Keep in mind: Some drugs, such as antacids and others prescribed for GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease), may decrease the absorption of chromium (36).

6. Berberine

Berberine is not a single herb, but a bitter-tasting compound. It is extracted from the roots and stems of some plants, including goldenseal and Phellodendron (37).

A review of 27 studies in people with type 2 diabetes found that taking berberine in combination with changes in diet and lifestyle reduced fasting blood sugar by 15.5 mg/dl and A1C by 0.71% compared to changes in diet and lifestyle alone or placebo (38).

The study also noted that besides diabetes medicine, berberine supplements helped lower blood sugar more than just medication (39).

Berberine will enhance insulin sensitivity and increase blood sugar intake into your cells, helping to reduce blood sugar (40).

A typical dose is 500 mg taken with big meals 2–3 times a day (41).

Keep in mind: Berberine can cause digestive disorders, such as constipation, diarrhea, or nausea. These disorders can be improved with a lower dose of 300 mg. Berberine can interact with several medications, so consult with your doctor before taking any (42, 43).

7. Alpha-Lipoic Acid

Alpha-lipoic acid, or ALA, is a vitamin-like and powerful antioxidant. It is produced in your liver and found in certain foods such as spinach, broccoli and red meat (44).

While people with type 2 diabetes are taking 300, 900 or 1,200 mg of ALA alongside their normal six-month diabetes treatment, fasting, blood sugar and A1C dropped further as the dose rose (45).

ALA may increase the sensitivity of insulin and the absorption of sugar from your blood by your cells. These effects may take months. It can also guard against oxidative damage from excessive sugar in the blood (46).

Doses are normally 600 to 1,200 mg daily, taken before meals in divided doses. Keep in mind: People with Hyperthyroid disorder should avoid ALA. If you have vitamin B1 (thiamine) deficiency or are struggling with alcoholism, avoid very large doses of ALA (47, 48, 49).

The Bottom Line

Talk to your doctor about supplements, particularly if you are taking diabetes medication or insulin. The above supplements may interact with medicines and increase the risk of dropping blood sugar too low. The doctor may need to lower the dosage of diabetes medicine at some stage sometimes. Use only one new medication at a time. Also, check your blood sugar regularly to see any improvements over several months. Doing so will help you determine the impact with your doctor.

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Naeem Durrani BSc
Naeem Durrani is a freelance journalist who specializes in health and wellness innovation. His interests include medical research, nutrition, and the scientific evidence around effective wellness practices that empower people to positively transform their lives.
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