Diabetes is a chronic condition in which body does not produce or produce less insulin compared to healthy individual or body develops resistance to insulin (body does not respond to insulin).
Most foods that we consume finally enter into the blood in form of carbohydrate, fat & protein. From blood, these nutrients enter into cells. Insulin is required for this entry of glucose into cells. Body cells utilize carbohydrate & fat for energy & growth.
Because of less insulin or resistance to insulin in diabetes, blood sugar cannot enter into cells & remain in blood resulting in high blood sugar.
Studies have shown that supplements like chromium, alpha lipoic acid & vanadium plays an important role in the management of diabetes.
Chromium supplements in diabetes:
Diabetes is associated with low concentrations of chromium in blood, so, an early, long-term addition of chromium to the standard therapy has been recommended in several studies. Some latest clinical reports also support the safety and therapeutic value of chromium supplementation for the management of high cholesterol and sugar in subjects with diabetes.
Chromium increases insulin receptor numbers & insulin binding to cells. Since chromium acts by increasing insulin efficiency, so lower amount of insulin is required in presence of chromium.
A clinical study published in ‘Diabetes Care. (2006, August)’ has shown that chromium supplementation in subjects with type 2 diabetes significantly improves insulin sensitivity and glucose control. Chromium supplementation also reduced body weight gain and fat accumulation
A latest review article published in Diabetes Technol Ther. 2006 December has mentioned that 13 of 15 clinical studies involving a total of 1,690 subjects reported significant improvement in at least one outcome of glycemic control. (Glycemic control is a medical term used for blood sugar levels in a person with diabetes) Beneficial effects of chromium supplementation included reduced blood glucose, cholesterol, and triglyceride levels and reduced requirements for drugs for diabetes.
Reduction in blood sugar & improvement in insulin sensitivity with chromium results in decrease risk for diabetes complications.
Alpha lipoic acid in Diabetes:
Alpha lipoic acid is a powerful antioxidant, which is produced in the body & also present in food. High blood sugar in diabetes increases free radical formation in body, which leads to additional complications of diabetes like atherosclerosis, heart problems, nerve damage & cataract. Antioxidant decreases free radicals in body & decreases risk of complications.
There are number of publications confirming beneficial effect of lipoic acid in therapy of many diseases, including diabetes, atherosclerosis, degenerative processes in neurons, diseases of joints,
A recent clinical study on diabetic patients treated with alpha lipoic acid was published in ‘hormones (Athens). 2006 Oct-Dec 5(4)’. The result of the study has proved that short-term oral alpha-lipoic acid treatment increases peripheral insulin sensitivity in patients with type 2 diabetes.
Improvement in insulin sensitivity could improve both blood sugar control and cardiovascular risk factors in patients with type 2 diabetes.
Peripheral insulin sensitivity gives an idea about how body cells respond to insulin. In diabetes, because of decrease response to insulin by body cells, blood sugar cannot enter into cells causing high blood glucose. Alpha lipoic acid enhances glucose uptake by cells in type 2 diabetes.
Diabetic neuropathy or nerve damage is a complication of diabetes. It is a progressive disease, which can cause pain, loss of sensation and weakness, in the feet and sometimes in the hands. Studies have shown that alpha lipoic acid is effective in management of diabetic nerve damage called neuropathy and it reduces pain associated with neuropathy.
Vanadium supplement in diabetes:
Vanadium is a trace mineral required by the body in small quantities. Numerous studies have shown that vanadium has insulin-like effects in liver, skeletal muscle, and adipose tissue. It may improve glucose control in people with type 2 diabetes.
Along with chromium & alpha lipoic acid, some other supplement like evening primrose oil, fenugreek & some herbs also help in management of diabetes.
Author is a freelance writer on health topics & contributes to several websites
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