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NCCIH Clinical Digest

for health professionals

Type 2 Diabetes and Dietary Supplements

July 2017
diabetes diabetic

Many widely marketed dietary supplement products claim to provide health benefits for people with diabetes. Researchers have studied several dietary supplements to see if they can help people manage type 2 diabetes or lower their risk of developing the disease, but currently there is not enough evidence to suggest that any dietary supplement can help prevent or manage type 2 diabetes. Some supplements may interact with diabetes treatments or increase the risk of 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.

Condition and Summary of Current Evidence

Alpha-lipoic acid

Two clinical trials involving approximately 570 participants found that alpha-lipoic acid supplements did not prevent or improve conditions related to diabetes.

Read more on the research of alpha-lipoic acid.


Clinical trials have found few or no benefits of chromium supplements for controlling type 2 diabetes or reducing the risk of developing the disease.

Read more on the research of chromium.


Data from clinical trials have shown no clear benefits and some risks of cinnamon for people with diabetes.

Read more on the research of cinnamon.


Clinical trial results on efficacy of magnesium supplementation for type 2 diabetes is limited; some benefits have been found in several, but not all studies.

Read more on the research of magnesium.


Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acid supplementation has not been shown to improve blood glucose levels in people with diabetes.


Read more on the research of omega-3 fatty acids.

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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