Vitamin and herbal supplements have long been marketed as healthier, natural alternatives to medication, which has continued to resonate with sufferers of chronic conditions like diabetes in hopes of a cure. But while these alternatives cannot cure the condition or mimic the effects of medication and a healthy lifestyle, certain supplements may prove to be valuable aids in the fight against diabetes or you could visit a top endocrinologist in Pakistan if your condition worsens.
A common factor amongst the diabetic population, vitamin D deficiency can lead to kidney and heart failure; both major diabetes complications. This makes daily supplementation of the vitamin at 600 IU (International Units) for those between 14-70 and 800 IU for patients over 70 necessary. Vitamin D also reduces the need for more insulin for balancing sugar levels (insulin sensitivity).
Available as both supplemental tablets and in ground form, the compound Hydroxychalcone found within this popular kitchen spice improves blood sugar absorbability by stimulating the insulin receptors. Cinnamon also helps reduce fasting blood glucose levels by slowing the stomach emptying process after eating. Consume ½ a teaspoon of ground cinnamon daily or as a twice daily capsule of 500 mg. Bypass the cinnamon, however, in case of liver damage.
An antioxidant with properties similar to that of vitamins, ALA or lipoic acid aids in organ protection by neutralizing cell-damaging free radicals, improves insulin sensitivity, and helps balance blood glucose levels by converting it into energy. It is particularly useful in helping reduce finger, toe, and foot pain due to early-stage diabetic neuropathy (nerve damage). However, it may decrease blood levels of iron, react with antacids and certain anti-cancer drugs, and dangerously lower blood sugar levels if taken in excess of 600 mg daily.
Long-proven to be beneficial for both heart health and diabetes management, these fatty acids prevent atherosclerosis (clogged arteries due to cholesterol accumulation), a major diabetes complication, by significantly reducing triglyceride (bad cholesterol) levels. Adequate omega-3 can be obtained either through 2 or more weekly servings of fish like salmon, trout, and sardines, or from 2,200 mg of fish oil supplements, with heart patients requiring 1000 mg a day. However, omega-3’s are generally unsafe for pregnant and breastfeeding women, can react with blood-thinning and hypertensive drugs, and, if consumed in high doses, can lead to LDL (bad cholesterol) elevation.
Available in powdered form, the soluble fiber present in psyllium supplements helps reduce cholesterol levels and control post-meal blood sugar spikes. It is commonly prescribed to patients with low levels of dietary fiber; with the daily recommended requirements being 10 grams, or 1 teaspoon dissolved in 8 ounces of water thrice a day. To avoid gastric discomfort or gas, gradually work up to the recommended amount from smaller doses, and drink the mixture 20-30 minutes before each meal.
Targeting Urinary Tract and Yeast Infections common in most diabetics, the good bacteria present in probiotics also help reduce blood glucose and insulin levels and improve bowel function. While best obtained from food sources like yogurt and olives, probiotics may also be consumed in supplement form.
Occurring naturally in the body, this vitamin-esque substance is a powerful antioxidant that aids the cells in the energy-making process, while also decreasing blood sugar levels and preventing or helping treat Diabetic Retinopathy (diabetes-related eye damage), although results are still limited to animal studies. However, it may interact with anticoagulants like Warfarin, hypertensive medications, and anti-cancer drugs.
According to Chinese studies, this plant-based compound can decrease the liver’s glucose production, decelerate carbohydrate breakdown, improve diabetic neuropathy and insulin function, and help treat diabetes-induced kidney disease. However, exceeding the recommended twice or thrice daily 500 mg dosage can result in stomach cramps, constipation, and other digestive issues.
Note: While all of the above supplements are obtained from natural sources, any dietary or supplemental changes must be discussed with your doctor. Also, supplements cannot, in any way, replace diabetes medication and must be taken alongside it, if approved.
If you are diabetic and are interested in trying out alternative treatment, consult with your doctor to find out if, and what supplements are best for your current condition. You can also book an appointment with a top Endocrinologist in Lahore, Karachi and Islamabad through oladoc.com, or call our helpline at 042-3890-0939 for assistance to find the RIGHT Doctor for your diabetes-related concerns.
About the Writer:
Yashfa Marrium is a freelance writer and health enthusiast. You can reach her at [email protected]