No magic bullet can stop our epidemic of type 2 diabetes, but certain supplements may help cut risk and alleviate symptoms:
Chromium picolinate. Taking 200 to 1,000 micrograms daily can lower blood glucose, improve insulin function and lessen diabetic symptoms such as thirst and fatigue, says expert Richard Anderson, Ph.D., of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In recent Israeli research, taking 200mcg twice a day for three weeks reduced diabetics’ blood glucose by 26% and cholesterol by 9%. Anderson advises all adults to take 200mcg chromium picolinate daily to help prevent diabetes. New studies have put old safety questions to rest.
Cinnamon. The spice boosts insulin’s efficiency in processing sugar, Anderson says. In one test, diabetics who ate 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon twice a day for 40 days reduced their fasting blood sugar 18% to 29%, triglycerides 23% to 30% and cholesterol 12% to 26%. Sprinkle cinnamon on foods such as cereal or fruit, or take it in capsules, Anderson says.
Alpha lipoic acid. This potent antioxidant can improve blood sugar and help prevent and treat diabetic complications such as cataracts and neuropathy, says Lester Packer, Ph.D., of the University of Southern California. In German research, 600 milligrams daily significantly increased insulin sensitivity and lowered blood sugar in type 2 diabetics after four weeks.
Salacia oblonga. This herb, used in India to treat diabetes and sold on the Internet, lowered insulin 29% and blood glucose 23% in healthy adults, reports Steve Hertzler, Ph.D., of Ohio State University. But don’t try it without telling your doctor, he says. Effective daily doses range from 100 mg to 1,000 mg, with gastrointestinal distress occurring at higher levels.
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This EatSmart column is reprinted from USAWEEKEND Magazine and is copyrighted by Jean Carper. It cannot be reprinted without permission from Jean Carper.
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Article updated on: April 3rd, 2005