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NCCIH Clinical Digest

for health professionals

Type 2 Diabetes and Dietary Supplements

November 2022
diabetes diabetic
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Overall, there is not enough scientific evidence to show that any dietary supplement can help manage or prevent type 2 diabetes. Some dietary supplements may provide some benefit for some conditions associated with type 2 diabetes.  It is important to note, however, that there are multiple case reports linking dietary supplement use to kidney disease, which is of particular concern because diabetes is the leading cause of chronic kidney disease and kidney failure in the United States. Supplement use should be monitored closely in patients who have or are at risk for kidney disease.

This issue of the digest addresses some of the many supplements studied for diabetes—such as alpha-lipoic acid, chromium, magnesium, and omega-3s—with a focus on those that have undergone clinical trials.

Supplement and Summary of Current Research

Alpha-Lipoic Acid

Alpha-lipoic acid may be able to improve symptoms of diabetic nephropathy, however, there is not enough evidence to draw conclusions about its effect on other symptoms of diabetes. 

Read more on the research of alpha-lipoic acid


Chromium may be able to provide some benefit for improving glycemic control, but the research shows conflicting results. Further, there is no clear data that demonstrate that chromium plays any role in preventing the development of diabetes. 

Read more on the research of chromium


Data from clinical trials have shown conflicting results on the effectiveness of cinnamon for diabetes. 

Read more on the research of cinnamon


The increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes in people with magnesium deficiency has suggested that magnesium supplementation may provide benefits to those patients with type 2 diabetes or those at risk for developing the disease. However, results from clinical trials have not shown a clear benefit.

Read more on the research of magnesium

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Much research has examined the role of omega-3 fatty acids in reducing the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, but data are conflicting about the ability of omega-3 fatty acid supplementation to affect glucose levels in patients with diabetes.


Read more on the research of omega-3 fatty acids


There is some low certainty evidence that resveratrol could be effective for glycemic control in people with diabetes, but more research needs to be conducted before definitive conclusions can be drawn. 

Read more on the research of resveratrol

NCCIH Clinical Digest is a service of the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, NIH, DHHS. NCCIH Clinical Digest, a monthly e-newsletter, offers evidence-based information on complementary health approaches, including scientific literature searches, summaries of NCCIH-funded research, fact sheets for patients, and more.

The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health is dedicated to exploring complementary health products and practices in the context of rigorous science, training complementary health researchers, and disseminating authoritative information to the public and professionals. For additional information, call NCCIH’s Clearinghouse toll-free at 1-888-644-6226, or visit the NCCIH website at NCCIH is 1 of 27 institutes and centers at the National Institutes of Health, the Federal focal point for medical research in the United States.


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