Supplements studied for diabetes: multivitamins, fish oil, lipoic acid, chromium and biotin

We were at a health fair in Brooklyn recently, and, because there is a high rate of diabetes in this area of NYC, we decided that we should produce a short list of the most important supplements that have been studied for diabetes:


Regular use of a multivitamin/multimineral supplement helps people with diabetes maintain good health (for example, by reducing the number of infections they experience).

Reference: Barringer, et al. Effect of a Multivitamin and Mineral Supplement on Infection and Quality of Life. Annals of Internal Medicine. 3/4/2003.

Omega-3 fatty acids (Fish Oil)

Many people with diabetes have high blood pressure and elevated cholesterol, which can increase the risk of heart disease and stroke. (Two out of three people with diabetes die of heart disease or stroke.) Omega-3 fatty acids have shown benefit for cardiovascular health in recent randomized controlled clinical trials. The FDA has also approved a health claim for fish oil: “supporting but not conclusive evidence shows that the consumption of EPA and DHA omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.”

Alpha-Lipoic Acid

Alpha-Lipoic Acid (ALA) has the ability to assist with glucose metabolism, and also promotes healthy nerve function. A recent study concluded that ALA (600mg) could be useful in helping to treat the symptoms of diabetes-related neuropathy (= generally, pain, tingling, numbness in feet and hands).

Reference: Ametov et al. The sensory symptoms of diabetic polyneuropathy are improved with alpha-lipoic acid: The SYDNEY Trial. Diabetes Care. 2003, 26 (3)


See entries under Chromium on this blog for additional information about this mineral and its potential benefit for people with diabetes.


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