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Diabetes and supplements: What to know

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Supplements and diabetesAlpha-lipoic acidCinnamonGreen teaMagnesiumVitamin B1Bitter melonChromiumVitamins to avoidCan vitamin D lower blood sugar?Is there a natural cure?Summary
Certain supplements, alongside a healthy and balanced diet, may help you manage diabetes. These can include alpha-lipoic acid, green tea, and vitamin B1.
Medically reviewed by Kathy W. Warwick, R.D., CDE
Updated on April 5, 2023

People may take supplements to reduce blood sugar levels and reduce risks for other diabetes complications. But, you may not benefit from supplements if you do not have a diagnosed vitamin or mineral deficiency.

Are supplements beneficial?

Chopped bitter melon with slices in a curved shape until it reaches the remaining whole fruit. Bitter melon could be used as a diabetes supplement
Juan Moyano/Stocksy United

Eating a balanced diet may provide you with the vitamin and mineral intake you need. But, if you have a diagnosed deficiency, you may consider taking supplements to support your diabetes treatment.

Without a diagnosed vitamin deficiency, the 2023 Standards of Medical Care in Diabetes report states that there’s insufficient evidence that dietary supplements, herbs, and spices can help manage blood sugar levels.

Supplements cannot replace medical treatment for diabetes, and you should discuss with your doctor whether supplements may be of benefit.

The following supplements show potential for helping manage blood sugar levels and prevent diabetes complications:

Alpha-lipoic acid

Alpha-lipoic acid is a potent antioxidant that may help control and reduce blood sugar levels.

A 2022 study also found a mild decrease in fasting glucose but little effect on A1C and no effect on post-meal glucose levels.

It may also have other benefits, including:

  • improvement of neuropathic symptoms, such as nerve pain
  • improved vision
  • reduction of oxidative stress

But, you should take alpha-lipoic acid with caution as there is a rare risk of reducing blood sugar to dangerous levels. More research is necessary to confirm the effects of alpha-lipoic acid on diabetes.


A 2019 meta-analysis found that cinnamon can help lower blood sugar levels between meals or while you are fasting — particularly in people with type 2 diabetes. But, there was no change in A1C or blood lipid levels.

There isn’t clear or sufficient evidence on the benefits of cinnamon supplementation in people with diabetes.

You should not use cinnamon to replace your medications without consulting your doctor if you have diabetes or other health conditions.

Green tea

A 2019 meta-analysis of studies involving humans, mice, and rats suggests that green tea extracts have numerous beneficial and health-boosting properties as it contains antioxidants called polyphenols.

Green tea’s beneficial health properties include:

  • reduction of oxidative stress
  • reduced risk of cardiovascular disease
  • reduced risk of eye disease
  • reduced risk of inflammation
  • possible diabetes prevention in those without a diabetes diagnosis

But, a 5-year 2023 study of 2,337 participants found that tea and green tea worsen insulin secretion and glucose tolerance in high risk people with diabetes.

Overall, more research is necessary to confirm the effects of green tea on diabetes.


Magnesium is an essential mineral found in many food types. Eating a magnesium-rich diet may benefit health. These foods include:

  • pumpkin seeds
  • brown rice
  • salmon
  • milk
  • avocado
  • chicken breast
  • raisins

A 2021 study suggests that magnesium supplements can help control blood sugar levels in people with diabetes and increase insulin sensitivity in people at risk.

But, high magnesium levels may cause adverse effects such as nausea and diarrhea, so speak with your doctor or healthcare professional before taking any magnesium supplements.

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Vitamin B1

Vitamin B1 is also known as thiamine. People with diabetes can be mildly deficient in thiamine, although it is most prevalent in people with alcohol use disorder or after weight loss or metabolic surgery.

People with low levels of thiamine may have a higher risk of developing diabetes complications, including cardiovascular conditions and heart failure.

A 2018 review suggests that taking thiamine supplements, called benfotiamine, may prevent diabetes complications, and a 2020 study involving rodents also found benfotiamine may prevent damage to the heart’s muscle tissue.

Further research is necessary to confirm the potential of benfotiamine in preventing diabetes complications.

Bitter melon

A small 2020 study found that bitter melon may help reduce fasting blood sugar levels but no improvement was seen in A1C levels in people with type 2 diabetes.

Due to the study’s small size, more research is necessary to confirm the efficacy of bitter melon in helping with diabetes management.


Chromium is a trace mineral found in many foods, such as white rice, peanut butter, and turkey breast. It helps our bodies process carbohydrates and process glucose efficiently.

More research may confirm chromium’s effectiveness in managing diabetes. However, a 2020 study found that chromium supplements may help reduce blood sugar levels during fasting in people with diabetes.

What vitamins should people with diabetes avoid?

People with diabetes should avoid taking vitamin B3 supplements.

Vitamin B3, also known as niacin, raises fasting blood sugar levels and may interfere with drugs for blood sugar management.

If you want to start taking vitamin B3 supplements, you should speak with your doctor or healthcare professional, as they can help determine if they are safe for you.

Can vitamin D lower blood sugar?

A 2019 review of 19 studies found that vitamin D may help blood sugar management in people with diabetes.

The same review found that a short-term vitamin D supplement intake can lower blood sugars and improve insulin resistance. Vitamin D supplements can work alongside other diabetes treatments to improve their efficacy.

But, researchers did not find any significant differences in the long-term management of diabetes between people who were taking vitamin D supplements and those who were not.

Can diabetes be fixed naturally?

It may be possible for type 2 diabetes to go into remission through weight management and following a balanced diet.

Managing weight and being active may help reduce blood sugar levels, lower the risk of diabetes complications, and reduce the need for medications. You can speak with a dietician specializing in diabetes care to help manage your nutritional needs.

But, this may not work for everyone. It is important to keep your healthcare team informed of any changes you may want to make. They can confirm if your plans are suitable for your current health condition.

You should not stop taking your current medications without consulting your doctor or healthcare professional.


Researchers suggest that certain supplements may help to manage and prevent diabetes. But, these may not always prove beneficial. In some cases, you may experience some side effects, such as diarrhea and nausea. Additionally, the American Diabetes Association states there is not enough evidence to support that routine supplement intake helps manage diabetes.

If you have diabetes, you should not replace your medications with supplements.

Weight management and following a balanced diet can help to manage blood sugar. These lifestyle adaptations may help reduce the need for medications in those with type 2 diabetes.

It is best to speak with your doctor or healthcare professional before taking new supplements, as they may interfere with your diabetes treatment plan.

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