6 Supplements for Managing Blood Sugar

Amy Hendel | Apr 19th 2016 Jun 1st 2017

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Insulin resistance and prediabetes usually precede a full blown diabetes diagnosis. At the core of these conditions is controlling blood sugar. Are there safe supplements to help manage blood sugar?

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Does apple cider vinegar work?

Many patients with prediabetes or diabetes swear by drinking apple cider vinegar daily. One small study found using it at bedtime it helped, while another small study suggests it improved insulin sensitivity but no large randomized study has been done to confirm the findings. It’s considered safe if you have no kidney disease. It’s best to take apply cider vinegar by diluting it.

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Does fenugreek work?

Fenugreek is a common supplement found in most health food stores and it may help with several health conditions. Fenugreek seeds are actually highly soluble fiber, and soluble fiber is associated with slowing carbohydrate digestion and absorption, and limiting blood sugar elevation. Clear interactions are not well known. Dose range is between 2.5 to 15 grams daily. Too much can cause an upset stomach.

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Does garlic work?

There are studies that suggest that raw and boiled extracts of garlic can help to lower blood glucose levels. That doesn’t mean that you should eat bowls of garlic, but using garlic daily in your diet may help to modulate blood sugar levels. Since heart disease is often a comorbid condition in diabetes, use of garlic also helps with lipid levels. Some medications can interact with garlic.

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Does psyllium work?

Water-soluble dietary fibers appear to decrease post-meal blood sugar levels. One small study showed that it has a therapeutic effect in the metabolic efforts to control Type 2 diabetes. Psyllium can also lower risk of coronary heart disease. In one study, 10.2 grams of a psyllium supplement lowered blood sugar levels. A doctor or dietician can recommend an optimal daily dose for you.

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Does chromium work?

Recently there was a lot of buzz in the fitness community regarding the effectiveness of using chromium to manage blood sugar. A meta-analysis suggests that despite the hype, chromium does not appear to have an impact on fasting blood sugar, nor does it seem to lower blood sugar. Few people have chromium deficiency, so supplements are unnecessary.  Save your money.

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Other supplements for blood sugar management

Some other supplements you may see recommended for blood sugar control include: alpha-lipoic acid, bitter melon, Devil’s claw, Horse chestnut, panax ginseng and Siberian ginseng.  Talk to your doctor so you evaluate efficacy, contraindications and other variables before considering using any of these supplements. Buyer beware when it comes to these.

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Talk to your doctor before starting a supplement regimen

Always check first with your healthcare provider before taking supplements. Supplements can fill in nutrition gaps, but some contain dangerous active ingredients and certain supplements can interfere with medications or worsen certain health conditions. Not all doctors agree that supplements can help to manage blood sugar but some seem promising.