In addition to a high quality diet, vitamin D supplements can help to protect against autoimmune disorders.I'm a big believer in "food is your best medicine." But there are certain instances when your health can definitely benefit from a nutritional supplement.
For instance, your body's ability to extract the nutrients and enzymes from your food diminishes with age. This is why many nutritionally-minded physicians recommend supplementation for the elderly.
Illness also impairs this process, because the body is overtaxed by an increased nutritional demand caused by the need to repair itself.
People with specific medical conditions, such as diabetes, have unique recommended daily allowances (RDA) for specific nutrients that can boost their body's healing process.
This RDA evolved from the old Minimum Daily Requirement (MDR) set by the government to prevent nutritional-deficiency diseases, such as scurvy (vitamin C), beriberi (vitamin B1), and others.
But these minimum levels certainly won't guarantee optimal health and healing.
Supplements are no substitute for a healing diet
Since many diseases are caused by poor diet in the first place, it's usually more difficult for people who are ill to improve their diet than to add a few key supplements.
Just remember that these pills and capsules are meant to "supplement" a healing diet, not replace it.
That said, these 5 supplements are my top picks for helping your body cope with diabetes - and even help to heal it.
These recommendations are also beneficial for all people, since their benefits are not limited to the concerns of diabetics. And when you consider that one in three Americans has prediabetes (and most don't realize it), these supplements can also help you dodge the Big D bullet.
1. Omega-3 fish oil
Coldwater fish (wild salmon, mackerel, sardines, tuna, squid, and anchovies, for instance) represent the best food sources of omega-3 fatty acids, the "fish oil" which makes seafood such a health-building powerhouse.
No matter how much you love (or hate) to eat fish, it's helpful to have an alternative. Happily, fish oil supplements are loaded with the same healing EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), which have profound effects on your health.
DHA is like a big brake pedal that slows your liver's production of undesirable blood fats called triglycerides.
In addition, both EPA and DHA are incredibly effective at reducing overall inflammation. This produces a healing effect in blood vessels, while thinning your blood and lowering blood pressure.
Omega-3s also improve circulation (an important concern for diabetics) … keep blood flowing smoothly and reduce the risk of clotting (which limits the risk of stroke and heart attack, the leading causes of death for people with diabetes) … and help stabilize blood sugar, while diminishing the symptoms of depression.
Here's the "catch:" To get enough EPA and DHA, your omega-3s must come from marine sources.
Plant sources of omega-3s, including flax oil, flax seed, borage oil and evening primrose oil, certainly are good for you, but none of these yield a potent amount of EPA and DHA. (If you're vegan or just can't stand fish, you can get omega-3s from a phytoplankton supplement like Activation's Oceans Alive Marine Phytoplankton.
Like other supplements, fish oil capsules can be made from inferior products or contain undisclosed toxins. Go to www.FishOilSafety.com for more information and to check your brand. The Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) has examined 75 brands of fish oil and created a Best Choice/Worst Choice list . We love Norwegian Gold Super Critical Omega because it's burp-free and contains vitamin D, too.
2. Coenzyme Q-10
Also known as ubiquinol and ubiquinone, CoQ-10 is an important nutrient produced in the "energy factories" of your cells called mitochondria.
Taking a CoQ-10 supplement boosts the way your cells produce and utilize energy. Studies show it improves outcomes of people with diabetes. CoQ10 also helps your body burn fat … improves cholesterol ratios … kicks up physical energy … and aids thyroid and pancreas functions. It's also essential for heart health.
Diabetes medications actually limit the body's production of CoQ10 - and so do other medications that many diabetics take to treat comorbid conditions. That includes antidepressants, blood pressure drugs, and statins.
If you're on a cholesterol-lowering drug (called statins), your need for CoQ-10 is essential. By blocking production of cholesterol in the liver, statins also inhibit
CoQ-10 (also made in the liver). Without sufficient CoQ-10, statins can cause liver damage, irregular heartbeat, muscle weakness, leg cramps, heart attack, and stroke.
But what to buy? The label may read "CoQ-10" or "coenzyme Q-10" or a more active form will be labeled "QH" or "ubiquinol." This is a stronger version of CoQ-10, but it's not essential, especially if price is an issue. Once you start taking it, you should notice improvement in your energy levels fairly quickly.
3. Alpha-lipoic acid
Alpha-lipoic acid (ALA) is an antioxidant and essential fatty acid that helps control blood sugar, while reducing the pain of diabetic neuropathy. This makes it a "two-fer" for folks with diabetes.
A German study found that after just four weeks, diabetics who took ALA improved their insulin sensitivity by 27%.
A 2006 study published in Diabetes Care confirmed that ALA reduced the pain of diabetic neuropathy after just five weeks on a single daily dose. Study participants reported an impressive 51% reduction in pain and numbness within just two weeks.
The researchers explained that ALA improved blood flow to the nerves by up to 44% - and that this increased flow helped to relieve pain and numbness by repairing nerve tissue (something painkillers can't achieve).
Your body makes ALA in tiny amounts, but since it doesn't exist in food, supplementation can be very beneficial.
4. Magnesium citrate
Adequate magnesium levels are essential for healthy blood sugar and insulin activity. This is because, in order for several glucose-processing enzymes to work, magnesium must be present .
This helps explain why magnesium-deficiency is fairly common among people with diabetes - and this can exacerbate insulin resistance and high blood sugar.
A recent University of Chapel Hill study reveals that people who consume the least magnesium (via both food and supplements) are 50% more likely to develop diabetes as those whose blood levels of the mineral are higher.
Indeed, magnesium may be the single most important mineral for optimal health and health, as it is critical in more than 300 metabolic functions.
It also helps your body absorb vitamin D, a vital nutrient that many diabetics are deficient in. (BTW: The majority of Americans are magnesium-deficient due to the low-quality, processed foods in the typical American diet.)
Consuming magnesium supplements can be challenging because they tend to be large and difficult to digest. That's why I like Natural Calm , a fruit-flavored magnesium powder that mixes easily in water. I take it in the evening because of its relaxing effect. Start with a low dose, because it can loosen your stools (not necessarily a bad thing if constipation is a problem).
Another alternative is a topical magnesium chloride liquid spray (like Activation's Magnesium Infusion) which is absorbed through the skin and won't affect your bowels.
5. Chromium picolinate
Chromium has been shown to improve insulin sensitivity by increasing the number of insulin receptors on your cells.
It also helps stabilize blood sugar spikes after meals by boosting the action of insulin and helping to metabolize fats, carbs, and proteins.
A study by the USDA and FDA showed that people with above-average glucose levels experienced a decrease in blood sugar after taking chromium. Those with too-low blood sugar saw a (welcome) increase. This indicates that chromium is sophisticated enough to help normalize blood sugar levels, whether too high or too low.
In addition, chromium supports optimal thyroid function, which is vital for diabetics, since low thyroid leads to sluggish metabolism. This activity aids the conversion of glucose to energy, as well as your body's ability to burn off excess blood sugar, instead of storing it as fat.
How to take them
Add these supplements to your daily routine to give your body the extra care and support it needs to heal and thrive.
Buying them is the easy part, but actually taking them may be a challenge until you get into the habit. Here are some suggestions…
1. Keep them on your bathroom counter and at your desk at work. This way you'll be able to take them conveniently. (Some require you to take them two or three times per day for optimal benefit.)
2. Follow the instructions on the label. Never take more that the recommended dose.
3. If staring down a handful of pills is intimidating, you can take some with breakfast, some with lunch, and some with dinner.
4. To keep track of you use, keep a checklist or employ a handy log such as the HealthMinder journal .
5. Check with your doctor or healthcare provider first. This is always wise, but it's especially important if you're taking medications.
What supplements are you currently taking?
If you have blood sugar issues, which tried-and-true supplements do you rely on?
How do they affect your blood glucose readings? Your energy level? Your health?
Do you have any supplements you'd like to add to my list?
Please share your comments here, so they can help others.