Nine Essential Diabetes Supplements

  • 22 Jul 2019
  • Reading time 11 mins
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Everyone talks about macronutrients - reducing calories and carbs, maybe even increasing fat, for diabetes prevention but what about micronutrients – vitamins, minerals and antioxidants? Supplementing the right ones makes all the difference.

In fact, the single most effective nutrient of all, that resensitises the insulin receptor is high dose chromium. I won't go into this here as I’ve done it comprehensively in my evidence about chromium report.  I recommend everyone with diabetes be given 3x200mcg chromium supplements a day, reducing to 1x 200mcg when blood sugar is consistently below 6. There’s 29 studies showing this to work – and even better if taken with cinnamon with Cinnulin® being the cinnamon extract that works best.

The following additional nutrients help to reverse your risk of diabetes or to reduce your risk if you have metabolic syndrome:

Vitamin C is extremely important to supplement and to eat, if you have diabetes. And having a high level of vitamin C in your blood, consistent with that achieved by supplementation and eating a diet high in fruits and vegetables, reduces your risk of diabetes by 62 per cent. That’s the conclusion of a study of over 21,000 people over a 12-year period, published in the Archives of Internal Medicine.1 Those with the highest amounts of vitamin C in their blood plasma were 62 per cent less likely to develop diabetes, compared to those with the lowest amounts. To reach the optimal level of vitamin C in your blood for diabetes reduction you will need to supplement 1,000mg a day and eat lots of fruit and vegetables, but diabetics have to be careful with high sugar fruits- stick to berries.. I take 2g a day for general good health.

One study in India gave people with diabetes either 500mg or 1,000mg of vitamin C. Only those taking the higher amount had a significant decrease in both their blood sugar levels and glycosylated haemoglobin, as well as triglycerides and cholesterol.2

Although most people think of oranges and other citrus fruits as being the highest sources of vitamin C, there’s actually more in greens such as broccoli. A review of six studies, published in the British Medical Journal, found that an intake equivalent to 100g (31⁄2oz) a day– roughly a serving – of dark green leafy vegetables, such as broccoli, spinach, cabbage and cauliflower, cut diabetes risk by 14 per cent.3 These foods also help your liver to detoxify, because they are high in glucosinolates.

A high intake (2g) of vitamin C a day also protects the eyes, which are prone to damage from the accumulation of slowly processed sorbitol, a consequence of diabetes. Taking a daily dose of vitamin C halves the amount of sorbitol the body produces.4

Vitamin E on its own, although good for you, doesn’t appear to reduce diabetes risk, but when taken with vitamin C it helps to keep the arteries5 and kidneys6 healthy in those with diabetes. One trial gave people with diabetes vitamins C and E plus chromium, as well as counselling in behaviour modification, which included a low-fat diet, exercise and giving up smoking. The incidence of cardiovascular problems halved, compared to those receiving conventional medical treatment.7 It’s worth supplementing 100mg of vitamin E, so look for a multivitamin that provides this, along with vitamin C and chromium.

Co-enzyme Q10 recycles spent vitamin E to return it to its active antioxidant form. Supplementing CoQ10 helps to lower blood pressure and glycosylated haemoglobin.8 CoQ10 also plays an important role in energy production. I take 10mg every day to maintain good health, but if you have advanced diabetes, nine times this amount – 90mg – can help to speed up your recovery. This is especially helpful if you have cardiovascular disease, and essential if you are taking statins because these cholesterol-lowering drugs knock out CoQ10.9 Cholesterol-lowering drugs stop the production of CoQ10 (produced further along the same pathway as cholesterol production), which is important for energy production.

Alpha lipoic acid is a vital antioxidant that helps vitamin C to work efficiently, recycling it back to antioxidant status once it’s disarmed a harmful oxidant. But it does much more than that. Glycation and oxidation damage tissue such as the arteries, kidneys, nerves and eyes, as well as insulin-producing cells and insulin receptors, making you more insulin resistant. When your blood sugar levels are high it increases both glycation and oxidation.10 Alpha lipoic acid protects you from that damage and it is important for people with type-1 or type-2 diabetes to minimise the damage caused by sugar.

A study in Greece gave diabetic patients supplements of alpha lipoic acid for four weeks and found that it increases insulin sensitivity.11 Many studies have shown that it protects against nerve damage,12 and another has found that it improves circulation in diabetics.13 In many European countries high doses of alpha-lipoic acid (600–1,200mg) are given intravenously to treat neuropathy, the nerve damage that leads to loss of feeling in extremities and, ultimately, amputations.14 It’s well worth supplementing. I take 10mg a day as part of my supplement regime for maintaining good health, but the level recommended if you have diabetes is 100–200mg a day.

Glutathione is the body’s most important antioxidant, but people with diabetes don’t make enough of it. Supplementing glutathione – or the amino acids from which it is formed – N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) and glycine – helps to restore normal levels, thereby reducing inflammation. 15 I supplement 50mg of glutathione every day, but if you have advanced diabetes, you will need ten times this amount: 500mg of either glutathione or NAC to help to speed up your recovery. The combination of NAC and lipoic acid is very effective at raising glutathione levels, whey protein, rich in these amino acids, also helps boost glutathione.

Resveratrol and anthocyanidins are the purple colours in berries and red grapes. Anthocyanidins reactivate glutathione, so if you take these two together you get a much more substantial antioxidant effect.Resveratrol is concentrated in red grapes, and hence good-quality red wine. In both animal trials and two human trials involving ten older people with pre-diabetes and 19 people with diabetes, resveratrol improves insulin resistance and lowers glucose levels after a meal.16

Zinc is a vital antioxidant mineral, but also, together with magnesium, it is essential for insulin production and function. Both these minerals help to turn sugar into energy, and help insulin to work properly.17 A recent study of 32 placebo controlled trials finds that zinc supplementation “Our analysis revealed that several key glycemic indicators are significantly reduced by zinc supplementation, particularly the fasting glucose in subjects with diabetes.18 Zinc is rich in nuts and seeds, as well as seafood. I recommend supplementing at least 10mg a day, as well as eating these foods on a daily basis.

Magnesium levels tend to be low in people with diabetes, and the lower the magnesium the higher the insulin levels.19 A 14-year study tracking over 75,000 people found that the lower a person’s magnesium level the higher was their risk of diabetes.20

Magnesium is found in nuts, seeds, lentils, beans and green leafy vegetables, and it is perhaps the most commonly deficient mineral in the modern diet. The RDA in the UK is set at 300mg a day, but should be 500mg, especially if you have diabetes. The average person achieves only 270mg from their diet. If you eat a good diet containing those foods listed above you may achieve 350mg, but that leaves a shortfall of 150mg from the ideal total daily intake of 500mg. This is what I recommend everyone should supplement on a daily basis in a high-strength multivitamin–mineral. If you have diabetes, you might benefit from double this supplemental amount: 300mg a day.

In one study, diabetics with low magnesium were given magnesium or a placebo for 16 weeks. At the end of that period only those taking the magnesium had lower blood sugar levels, insulin levels and glycosylated haemoglobin, which dropped from an average of 10 per cent to an average of 8 per cent.21

All of these nutrients are in optimal amounts in my Hybrid Pack if you take two strips a day. High potency chromium with Cinnulin® is in Cinnachrome – take 1 to 3 daily.


1. A.H. Harding, et al., ‘Plasma Vitamin C Level, Fruit and Vegetable Consumption, and the Risk of New-Onset Type-2 Diabetes Mellitus. The European Prospective Investigation of Cancer–Norfolk Prospective Study’, Archives of Internal Medicine, 2008; 168(14):1493–9

2. M. Afkhami-Ardekani and A. Shojaoddiny-Ardekani, ‘Effect of vitamin C on blood glucose, serum lipids and serum insulin in type-2 diabetes patients’, Indian Journal of Medical Research, 2007 Nov; 126(5):471–4

3. P. Carter, et al., ‘Fruit and vegetable intake and incidence of type-2 diabetes mellitus: Systematic review and meta-analysis’, British Medical Journal, 2010 Aug; 341:c4229

4. J. S. Vinson, et al., ‘In vitro and in vivo reduction of erythrocyte sorbitol by ascorbic acid’,Diabetes, 1989 Aug; 38(8):1036–41

5. J. G. Regensteiner, et al., ‘Oral L-arginine and vitamins E and C improve endothelial function in women with type-2 diabetes’, Vascular Medicine, 2003; 8(3):169–75

6. P. Gaede, et al., ‘Double-blind, randomised study of the effect of combined treatment with vitamin C and E on albuminuria in type-2 diabetic patients’, Diabetes Medicine, 2001 Sep; 18(9):756–60

7. P. Gaede, et al., ‘Multifactorial intervention and cardiovascular disease in patients with type-2 diabetes’, New England Journal of Medicine, 2003 Jan; 348(5):383–93

8. J. M. Hodgson, et al., ‘Coenzyme Q10 improves blood pressure and glycemic control: A controlled trial in subjects with type-2 diabetes’, European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2002
Nov; 56(11):1137–42

9. S. J. Hamilton, et al., ‘Coenzyme Q10 improves endothelial dysfunction in statin-treatedtype-2 diabetic patients’, Diabetes Care, 2009 May; 32(5):810–12

10. U. Singh and I. Jialal, ‘Alpha-lipoic acid supplementation and diabetes’, Nutrition Reviews,2008 Nov; 66(11):646–57; L. Packer, et al., ‘Lipoic acid as a biological antioxidant’, FreeRadical Biology and Medicine, 1995 Aug; 19:227–50

11. P. Kamenova, ‘Improvement of insulin sensitivity in patients with type-2 diabetes mellitusafter oral administration of alpha-lipoic acid’, Hormones (Athens), 2006 Oct–Dec; 5(4):251–8

12. G. S. Mijnhout, et al., ‘Alpha lipoic acid: A new treatment for neuropathic pain in patients with diabetes?’, Netherlands Journal of Medicine, 2010 Apr; 68(4):158–62

13. B. B. Heinisch, et al., ‘Alpha-lipoic acid improves vascular endothelial function in patients with type-2 diabetes: A placebo-controlled randomized trial’, European Journal of Clinical Investigation, 2010 Feb; 40(2):148–54

14. D. Ziegler, et al., ‘Treatment of symptomatic diabetic peripheral neuropathy with theanti-oxidant alpha-lipoic acid: A 3-week multicentre randomized controlled trial (ALADIN Study)’, Diabetologia, 1995 Dec; 38(12):1425–33; M. Reljanovic, et al., ‘Treatment of diabeticpolyneuropathy with the antioxidant thioctic acid (alpha-lipoic acid): A two year multicentre randomized double-blind placebo-controlled trial (ALADIN II). Alpha Lipoic Acid in Diabetic Neuropathy’, Free Radical Research, 1999 Sep; 31(3):171–9; D. Ziegler, et al., ‘Treatment of symptomatic diabetic polyneuropathy with the antioxidant alpha-lipoic acid: A 7-month multicenter randomized controlled trial (ALADIN III Study). ALADIN III Study Group. Alpha-Lipoic Acid in Diabetic Neuropathy’, Diabetes Care, 1999 Aug; 22(8):1296–301; D.Ziegler, et al., ‘Effects of treatment with the antioxidant alpha-lipoic acid on cardiac autonomic neuropathy in NIDDM patients: A 4-month randomized controlled multicenter trial (DEKAN Study). Deutsche Kardiale Autonome Neuropathies’, Diabetes Care, 1997 Mar; 20(3):369–73; A. S. Ametov, et al., ‘The sensory symptoms of diabetic polyneuropathy are improved with alpha-lipoic acid: The SYDNEY trial’, Diabetes Care, 2003 Mar; 26(3):770–6

15. R. V. Sekhar, et al., ‘Glutathione synthesis is diminished in patients with uncontrolled diabetes and restored by dietary supplementation with cysteine and glycine’, Diabetes Care, 2011 Jan;34(1):162-7

16 J. A. Baur, et al., ‘Resveratrol improves health and survival of mice on a high-calorie diet’, Nature, 2006 Nov; 444:337–42; see also P. Brasnyo, et al., ‘Resveratrol improves insulinsensitivity in type-2 diabetic patients’, British Journal of Nutrition, 2011 March 9; 1–7; and a pilot study presented at the American Diabetes Associations annual scientific meeting, by J. Crandall

17. Mario Barbagallo, et al., ‘Role of magnesium in insulin action, diabetes and cardiometabolic syndrome X’, Molecular Aspects of Medicine, 2003 Feb; 24(1–3):39–52; see also S.O. Emdin, et al.,‘Role of zinc in insulin bisynthesis’, Diabetologia, 2008; 19(3):174–82

18. X. Wang et al., ‘Zinc supplementation improves glycemic control for diabetes prevention and management: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials’ The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2019 July; 110(1):76-90

19. J. Ma, et al., ‘Associations of serum and dietary magnesium with cardiovascular disease, hypertension, diabetes, insulin, and carotid arterial wall thickness in the ARIC study’, Journal of Clinical Epidemiology, 1995; 48:927–40

20. B. N. Hopping, et al., ‘Dietary fiber, magnesium, and glycemic load alter risk of type-2 diabetes in a multiethnic cohort in Hawaii’, Journal of Nutrition, 2010 Jan; 140(1):68–74

21. M. Rodriguez-Moran and F. Guerrero-Romero et al.,’ Oral magnesium supplementation improves glycaemic status in subjects with prediabetes and hypomagnesaemia: A double-blind placebo-controlled randomized trial.’ Diabetes Metab. 2015 Jun;41(3):202-7