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Supplements That Diabetics Shouldn’t Take

Dr. Aamer Ghafoor Mufti

2 min read

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People suffering from diabetes often try supplements to keep their blood sugar in check. However, it is essential to know that the natural remedies or supplements you are trying are safe and effective. However, health experts do not really encourage the use of supplements by people with diabetes as there is no research that guarantees their long-term safety and supplements are not as effective as diabetes medicines. That being said, certain supplements in conjunction with diabetes drugs and a healthy lifestyle may help stabilize blood sugar and control risk for other related issues such as heart diseases. However, some supplements have no place in your diabetes treatment plan. Here are the harmful supplements for diabetics:

1- Chromium:

Even though studies have suggested that chromium may help keep blood sugar in check, it will not help you if you aren’t deficient in this mineral. Chromium deficiency causes problems with glucose management and thus people with type 2 diabetes with deficiencies can benefit from it. Since chromium deficiency is not too common, it is recommended that instead of splurging on chromium supplements you load up on natural sources of this mineral such as green beans, whole grains, broccoli, and mushrooms.

High levels of chromium may harm the liver and kidneys and cause mood disruptions. Moreover, chromium may interfere with other medications such as beta-blockers and antacids. The standards of care review published by the American Diabetes Association in 2018 doesn’t list chromium supplementation as a possible treatment.

2- Vitamin E:

Even though some studies have found that vitamin E may help prevent heart disease, follow up studies have not been that promising. Diabetes increases a person’s risk of heart diseases and since vitamin E is an antioxidant, it may reduce a person’s risk of cardiovascular problems. However, some studies have found that taking high doses of vitamin E supplements may increase the risk of death. Vitamin E which is found naturally in foods such as green leafy vegetables, wheat germ, and vegetable oils is not a concern, so it is recommended that you stick to a heart-healthy diet.

3- Vitamin B:

According to a study, people with diabetes can end up with worse kidney function and a higher incidence of stroke when they are given B vitamins.

4- Magnesium:

High level of this mineral may cause calcium to be deposited on the arteries rather than on bones and this may lead to heart attacks.

5- Fenugreek

Several small studies, including one published in 2017 in the journal Ayu, suggest that fenugreek, an ancient medicinal herb, may reduce blood glucose levels in people with type 2 diabetes.

If fenugreek helps, benefits are small, and side effects—like gas, diarrhea, and interactions with blood-thinning drugs—may outweigh them. “Most of the benefit comes from its dietary fiber,” Shane-McWhorter says, which you can get from foods such as whole grains, nuts, beans, and seeds or psyllium. If you want to try it, stick to using seeds in your diet as opposed to supplements. Grind them to use in tea or to mix into baked goods.

6- Bitter melon

A popular fruit in the cuisines of Africa, East Asia, India, and South America, bitter melon is also sold in capsules claiming to maintain healthy blood sugar levels. One study published in 2017 in Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine suggests that bitter melon may reduce high blood glucose in type 1 diabetes, but the evidence is otherwise limited for real blood sugar benefits in people, according to the National Institutes of Health’s National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health.

It’s fine to eat bitter melon as a food, but as a supplement, it hasn’t delivered the expected benefits and is potentially dangerous. For example, it may cause gastrointestinal discomfort or allergic reactions.

Talk to your doctor if you have questions related to your diet or about ways to keep your blood sugar levels in check. You can find and book an appointment with top Diabetologists in Islamabad, Karachi and Peshawar through oladoc.com. You can also call our helpline at 042-3890-0939 for assistance to find the RIGHT Doctor for your health concerns.

Disclaimer: The contents of this article are intended to raise awareness about common health issues and should not be viewed as sound medical advice for your specific condition. You should always consult with a licensed medical practitioner prior to following any suggestions outlined in this article or adopting any treatment protocol based on the contents of this article.

Dr. Aamer Ghafoor Mufti - Author Dr. Aamer Ghafoor Mufti is a Diabetologist practicing in Lahore. Dr. Aamer Ghafoor Mufti has the following degrees: MBBS, MPH, MHM and has 30 years of experience.

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