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NCCIH Clinical Digest

for health professionals

Type 2 Diabetes and Dietary Supplements: What the Science Says

July 2017

Clinical Guidelines, Scientific Literature, Info for Patients: 
Type 2 Diabetes and Dietary Supplements

diabetes diabetic

Overall, there is not enough scientific evidence to show that any dietary supplement can help manage or prevent type 2 diabetes. It is important to note 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.

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.

Chromium

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

Cinnamon

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

Magnesium

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.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

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

References

  • Allen RW, Schwartzman E, Baker WL, et al. Cinnamon use in type 2 diabetes: an updated systematic review and meta-analysis. Ann Fam Med. 2013;11(5):452-459.
  • Barbagallo M, Dominquez LJ. Magnesium and type 2 diabetes. World J Diabetes. 2015;6(10:1152-1157.
  • De Oliveira AM, Rondó PH, Luzia LA, et al. The effects of lipoic acid and α-tocopherol supplementation on the lipid profile and insulin sensitivity of patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Diabetes Res Clin Pract. 2011;92(2):253-260.
  • Dong JY, Xun P, He K, et al. Magnesium intake and risk of type 2 diabetes: meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies. Diabetes Care. 2011;34(9):2116-2122.
  • Haritoglou C, Gerss J, Hammes HP, et al. Alpha-lipoic acid for the prevention of diabetic macular edema. Ophthalmologica. 2011;226(3):127-137.
  • Hartweg J, Perera R, Dinneen S, et al. Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) for type 2 diabetes mellitus. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2008;1:CD003205.
  • Leach MJ, Kumar S. Cinnamon for diabetes mellitus. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2012;9:CD007170.
  • Liu Y, Cotillard A, Vatier C, et al. A Dietary Supplement Containing Cinnamon, Chromium and Carnosine Decreases Fasting Plasma Glucose and Increases Lean Mass in Overweight or Obese Pre-Diabetic Subjects: A Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Trial. PLoS One. 2015;10(9):e0138646.
  • Siscovick DS, Barringer TA, Fretts AM, et al. Omega-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acid (Fish Oil) Supplementation and the Prevention of Clinical Cardiovascular Disease: A Science Advisory From the American Heart Association. Circulation. 2017;135(15):e867-e884.
  • Suksomboon N, Poolsup N, Yuwanakorn A. Systematic review and meta-analysis of the efficacy and safety of chromium supplementation in diabetes. J Clin Pharm Ther. 2014;39(3):292-306.
  • Wu JH, Micha R, Imamura F, et al. Omega-3 fatty acids and incident type 2 diabetes: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Br J Nutr. 2012;107:S214-S227.
  • Yin RV, Phung OJ. Effect of chromium supplementation on glycated hemoglobin and fasting plasma glucose in patients with diabetes mellitus. Nutr J. 2015;14:14.

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 Web site at nccih.nih.gov. 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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