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Diabetes

Suplements or vitamins

05/05/2008

Question:

Please recommend supplements or complex of vitamins which may be effective for diabetic people. Please give comment on Alphabetic or Multibetic, Gymnema, Water Melon extract. What is preferable for your opinion? Thanks

Answer:

There are many vitamin supplements which have been touted for use in diabetes but very few of them are supported by controlled clinical trial data, and not all of those are applicable to people on a diet found in the United States. 

In general, a standard multiple vitamin without megadoses is considered safe.  There is increasing recognition of need for higher doses of vitamin D in some people for the prevention of osteoporosis than the current daily allowance recommended by the US Department of Agriculture.  There is at present no evidence whether this higher dose of vitamin D - on the order of 800-1200 international units daily - has any impact on diabetes status.  Trials demonstrating effectiveness of chromium for diabetes were conducted in populations in China at high risk of chromium deficiency.  I am not aware of evidence that it provides added benefit in people on a standard American diet.  Since vitamins are not  nutritional supplements, their composition is not closely regulated by the US Food and Drug Administration and not required to have the detailed analysis that is the case for prescription and non-prescription drugs.  There is therefore uncertainty as to the documented purity, effectiveness and reproducibility of many vitamin preparations.

Be very cautious about arguments that such preparations are safe simply because they are "natural"  - some are and some aren't.

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Response by:

Robert M Cohen, MD Robert M Cohen, MD
Professor of Clinical Medicine
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati