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Supplements for Diabetes: An important missing link


- by Dr. James Meschino, DC, MS, ROHP

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Introduction

Scientific studies show that optimal diabetic management requires attention to 5 main factors:

  1. Taking Prescribed medication – which enhances glucose clearance and/or boosts insulin secretion in type 2 diabetics (and the use of insulin in type 1 diabetics).
  2. Proper diet.
  3. Physical activity.
  4. Specific supplements.
  5. Stress management – to lower the detrimental impact of cortisol on high blood sugar and systemic inflammation

Many diabetics have been given instructions pertaining to prescribed medication, dietary practices, the value of physical activity and the importance of limiting stress. However, many diabetics are unaware that certain supplements can improve the management of blood sugar, help lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels, reduce the risk or slow the progression of cataracts, macular degeneration (vision loss issues), and kidney disease, and help them lose weigh if they are overweight, all of which are important issues in the management of diabetes.

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Supplements for Diabetes: An important missing link

Dr. James Meschino, 

DC, MS, ROHP

Blood Sugar-Lowering Supplements

Studies with diabetics patients has shown that certain supplements enhance the action of insulin receptors, enabling cells to more easily extract sugar (glucose) from the bloodstream and use it as an energy source. By increasing insulin sensitivity in this way, blood sugar declines, as does the demand for insulin. Supplements that lower blood sugar and/or insulin demand include: Chromium – 400 mcg per day Vitamin C- 500 mg, twice daily Vitamin E – 400-800 IU per day Vitamin D – 1000-4000 IU per day (must achieve a vitamin D blood level above 80nmol/L)

Studies with diabetics patients has shown that certain supplements enhance the action of insulin receptors, enabling cells to more easily extract sugar (glucose) from the bloodstream and use it as an energy source. By increasing insulin sensitivity in this way, blood sugar declines, as does the demand for insulin. Supplements that lower blood sugar and/or insulin demand include:


Chromium – 400 mcg per day 

Vitamin C- 500 mg, twice daily

Vitamin E – 400-800 IU per day

Vitamin D – 1000-4000 IU per day (must achieve a vitamin D blood level above 80nmol/L)

Cholesterol/Triglyceride Lowering Supplements

Physicians are aware that statin drugs, often prescribed to lower cholesterol, often elevate blood sugar, worsening blood sugar control in diabetics, and can increase risk of developing diabetes in pre-diabetics patients. At the same time high cholesterol and/or triglycerides increase risk of heart attack, stroke and related problems in diabetics, who are particularly prone to dying from the complications of cardiovascular disease. The good news is that the combination of Gumm Guggul and Artichoke Leaf Extract, two natural agents, can lower cholesterol and triglycerides without aggravating blood sugar levels or damaging the liver.

Look for a supplement containing:

  1. Gum Guggul (Gugulipid) - standardized to 2.5% guggulsterone content – 500 mg 
  2. Artichoke Leaf Extract - standardized to 13-18% caffeoylquinic acid – 200 mg 

The dosage is 3 capsules, twice daily

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Supplements for Diabetes: An important missing link

Dr. James Meschino, 

DC, MS, ROHP

Supplements That Help Prevent Vision Loss

Studies show that supplementation with certain antioxidants help prevent the development of cataracts and macular degeneration, which are important causes of vision loss and blindness in diabetics. Fortunately taking the same dosages of vitamin C and vitamin E that helps control blood sugar also helps reduce risk of vision loss in diabetics. I would also add 200 mcg of selenium, 6-20 mg of lutein powder, and 100-200 mg quercetin daily.

Supplements That Help Protect the Kidneys

Decline in kidney function is also a common finding in diabetes, which can result in need for dialysis or kidney transplant in advanced cases. Damage to the kidneys in diabetics has been shown to result, in part, from higher levels of free radical insult that is a key feature of diabetic disease. Studies in type 2 diabetics have shown that supplementation with certain antioxidants reduce free radical damage of the kidneys, slowing and sometimes reversing kidney damage. These supplements include:


Alpha-lipoic acid – 600 mg per day

N-aceylcysteine – 600 mg, twice daily

As well as the above mentioned dosages of Vitamin E, Vitamin C, Quercetin

Supplements That Help with Weight Loss

Achieving ideal body weight helps lower blood sugar, cholesterol, triglycerides, and systemic inflammation, all of which are important in diabetes management. A combination supplement providing the following ingredients can help reduce body fat, when combined with a proper dietary and physical activity regiment.


Chromium – 400 mcg 

HCA – 1000 – 2000 mg

Catechins from decaffeinated green tea – 600-700 mg

Chromium helps to increase lean mass, which speeds up metabolism. HCA (hydroxycitric acid from the Garcinia cambogia fruit) helps block the conversion of carbohydrates into fat in the liver. Catechins, from green tea, turn-on brown fat in the body, which burns calories at a faster rate and gives them off as heat to the environment (thermogenesis). Each of these nutrients has been shown to help reduce body fat in human clinical trials. Unlike ephedra-containing supplements these ingredients do not increase risk of heart attack, stroke, seizures, insomnia or other adverse effects caused by stimulant drugs and supplements sometimes used for weight loss.

If you are a diabetic I urge you to consider the evidence-based supplement strategies presented in this article, and to discuss them with your physician.

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