July 24, 2024

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The 7 Best Supplements for Diabetes to Help Lower Blood Sugar

15 min read

Diabetes affects approximately 11% of the U.S. population, with roughly 23% of these adults being undiagnosed or unaware. If diabetes isn’t effectively managed, the excess sugar in your blood can lead to complications involving the heart, nerves, eyes, feet, and kidneys. Managing diabetes typically begins with simple lifestyle adjustments. According to Kimberley Rose-Francis, RDN, CDCES, CNSC, diet and exercise changes can initially help manage blood sugar levels, and a healthcare provider might recommend various medications to help manage diabetes.

Dietary supplements can offer further benefits in addition to medication but should be used under guidance from a health professional, as some supplements can interfere with diabetes medication. An important first step is to get blood tests to check for nutrient deficiencies. Then, a healthcare provider can guide you on the best supplement dose.

We’ve rounded up the top supplements for diabetic health that are backed by research and approved by experts, and we also address when there may be important interactions with common blood sugar medications like metformin and sulfonylureas.

Types of Supplements for Diabetes

Which supplements you should take for diabetes will vary based on your individual needs, but according to Messerli, “Most people with diabetes would likely benefit from a magnesium supplement and possibly a vitamin D supplement.” These are two nutrients that the general public is likely deficient in, and both play key roles in insulin’s action.

The following nutrients are based on research and expert recommendations for supplements for diabetes. Here is more information on how they may help regulate blood sugar:

  • Fiber helps slow the release of glucose into the bloodstream. Psyllium husk, as a supplement, may be particularly helpful with blood sugar management.
  • Magnesium can help with insulin resistance, and it’s a nutrient many people don’t get enough of. This is especially true during pregnancy, when magnesium needs increase.
  • Vitamin D plays a role in glucose metabolism and may help lower the risk of transitioning from prediabetes to diabetes.
  • Berberine may help lower blood sugar in people with type 2 diabetes.
  • Vitamin B12 can be an especially important supplement for those taking metformin to manage diabetes.
  • Apple cider vinegar can help lower blood sugar levels after a meal.
  • Some research suggests ginger may help the body use and lower blood glucose.

Editor’s Note

Our team of registered dietitians reviews and evaluates every single supplement we recommend according to our dietary supplement methodology. From there, a registered dietitian on our Medical Expert Board reviews each article for scientific accuracy. Always speak with a healthcare professional before adding a supplement to your routine—especially if you are on blood sugar-lowering medication—to ensure that the supplement is appropriate for your individual needs and which dosage to take.

NOW Supplements Psyllium Husk Caps 500 mg

Amazon


Key Specs

Form: capsule | Type: psyllium husk powder | Dose: 3 capsules | Servings Per Container: 166 | Third-Party Certified: Yes, Consumer Lab

Why We Recommend It

One of the simplest ways to lower blood sugar, control blood pressure, and protect heart health is to eat more fiber. It is widely recommended that adults consume 15–35 grams of fiber daily, although many Americans fall short. While a diet rich in whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and legumes can help you meet this goal, a fiber supplement like NOW Psyllium Husk Caps can be a great way to supplement your dietary fiber intake.

Each capsule provides one gram of soluble fiber per capsule, and it’s recommended to start with three capsules daily, although you may need more. We like psyllium husk because it is a soluble fiber source, and research has shown in randomized controlled trials that it can help to reduce fasting blood sugar, hemoglobin A1c, and insulin levels in people with type 2 diabetes.

One consideration is psyllium fiber supplements may be contaminated with lead, but we appreciate that third-party testing shows that this brand has one of the lowest levels of lead of all the tested psyllium fiber supplements.

Things to Consider

  • You may need to take multiple capsules daily to achieve your daily fiber goals.
  • Fiber supplements can affect your body’s absorption of certain medications, and you may need to take them at different times.

Thorne Research Magnesium Bisglycinate Powder

Walmart


Key Specs

Form: powder | Type: magnesium bisglycinate | Dose: 200 mg | Servings Per Container: 60 | Third-Party Certified: Yes, NSF Certified for Sport

Why We Recommend It

Over time, diabetes can deplete your body of certain nutrients—including magnesium. This is especially true in people with uncontrolled type 1 diabetes. Your magnesium needs increase during pregnancy, so this may be a helpful supplement if you have gestational diabetes.

Magnesium supplementation may also improve insulin resistance in diabetics—especially those who aren’t getting enough magnesium from food. Our top choice for a magnesium supplement is Thorne Magnesium Bisglycinate because of its high-quality ingredients and strong third-party testing. 

Each serving of Thorne’s easy-to-consume powder provides 200 milligrams (mg)—48% Daily Value—of magnesium. We like that magnesium bisglycinate, the form of magnesium in this supplement, is highly absorbable, and it can simply be mixed into water or your beverage of choice.

Things to Consider

  • If you have diabetes and take sulfonylureas (eg. glyburide), magnesium may increase absorption of this medication and could cause hypoglycemia. Also, magnesium levels may be increased if you take diabetes medications from the SGLT-2 inhibitor family (eg. Jardiance). 
  • It contains only magnesium, citric acid, and a little bit of monk fruit for sweetness, which may not suit everyone’s taste, but it won’t impact glucose levels. 

Amazon HUM Here Comes the Sun Vitamin D3 Immune System Support Supplement

Amazon


Pros

  • Single softgel serving

  • Third-party tested

Key Specs

Form: softgel | Type: vitamin D3 | Dose: 2,000 IU | Servings Per Container: 30 | Third-Party Certified: Yes, Consumer Lab

Why We Recommend It

Vitamin D is necessary for processing sugar and insulin in the body. Research has found that for people with diabetes who are deficient in vitamin D, a supplement may help decrease fasting glucose levels and improve insulin resistance. This benefit is less pronounced if vitamin D levels are already normal, which a blood test can determine. However, vitamin D may be helpful for people with gestational diabetes or with type 2 diabetes who are dealing with depression.

If you have diabetes and low vitamin D levels, we recommend HUM Here Comes the Sun Immune Supplement with Vitamin D. We appreciate that this product provides an effective 2,000 IU dose of vitamin D3 in an easy-to-consume softgel. This dose is above the RDA of 600 IU of vitamin D but under the Tolerable Upper Limit (UL) of 4,000 IU for adults over 19 years. A healthcare professional can help determine the best dose for your needs, depending if you are deficient or not.

Things to Consider

  • If your vitamin D levels do not respond to supplementing with one capsule, you may need to speak to your healthcare provider about increasing the daily dose.

Amazon Thorne Berberine 1000 mg

Amazon


Key Specs

Form: capsule | Type: berberine HCl and berberine phytosome | Dose: 450 mg berberine HCl and 550 mg berberine phytosome | Servings Per Container: 30 | Third-Party Certified: Yes

Why We Recommend It

Social media is touting berberine, a compound derived from goldenseal root, as a “natural” Ozempic (the landmark drug intended to treat diabetes) due to its effect on blood glucose levels. Research has shown that berberine can help lower fasting glucose, post-meal glucose, hemoglobin A1c, and even LDL and triglyceride levels in people with type 2 diabetes.

We like Thorne Berberine 1,000 mg because it uses the most researched form, berberine HCl. Research suggests doses of 500 mg taken twice or three times daily can be effective for glucose regulation, so we appreciate that this product is a suggested two-capsule dose to equal 1,000 mg total.

Things to Consider

  • Berberine may cause gastrointestinal discomfort for some people and may have several drug interactions, including those used for diabetes management.
  • It is not recommended to take if you are pregnant, so people with gestational diabetes should not use it.

Mary Ruth’s Organic Liquid Vitamin B12 Spray

Amazon


Pros

  • Customizable dosing

  • No added sugar

  • USDA certified organic

Key Specs

Form: liquid | Type: Methylcobalamin | Dose: 1,500 mcg in 2 sprays | Servings Per Container: 120 | Third-Party Certified: Yes, Clean Label Project Certified

Why We Recommend It

Many people consume sufficient amounts of vitamin B12 through diet; it’s found in ample amounts in fish, meat, dairy, and grains, and it’s easy to meet the 2.4 mcg Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA). That said, people living with diabetes tend to have lower levels of vitamin B12, and we like that Mary Ruth’s Vitamin B12 comes in a convenient spray format.

One reason people with diabetes should consider B12 supplementation is that a widely used diabetes medication, metformin, actually depletes blood levels of B12, according to Kristie Messerli, RD, CDCES. If you have been taking metformin for more than 1–2 years, it is routinely recommended to get your blood levels checked and supplement accordingly, especially if you are also a vegan or planning to become pregnant.

Some people may need a very low dose, and some may need more, so we appreciate that this product allows for customizable dosing. Two sprays will provide 1,500 mcg of B12 in the methylated form, which your body may retain better than other forms of B12. Note that there is no upper limit for B12, so you could take the full serving size if you have a true deficiency. Research has shown that supplementing with a dose as high as 1,000 mg may help replenish blood levels and even improve nerve function associated with diabetic neuropathy.

Things to Consider

  • The berry flavor may be strong for some people, but it does not contain added sugars.

Bragg Organic Apple Cider Vinegar

Amazon


Key Specs

Form: liquid | Type: apple cider vinegar | Dose: 1 tablespoon | Servings Per Container: 63 | Third-Party Certified: Yes, Consumer Lab

Why We Recommend It 

Apple cider vinegar (ACV) has been enjoying a moment in the spotlight recently—even doctors and scientists have been discussing the use of apple cider vinegar to improve blood sugar levels. Our top choice for this category is Bragg’s Organic Apple Cider Vinegar, which is widely available at supermarkets and health food stores nationwide.

We chose Bragg’s liquid apple cider vinegar over ACV pills or gummies because the liquid form is found to be more effective for diabetes and actually contains the amount of acetic acid studied to improve blood sugars. Research suggests mixing half to one tablespoon of ACV with a small glass of water to help prevent a post-meal blood sugar rise. We also appreciate this pick because we found it has a less acidic taste than other vinegar and contains “true” apple cider vinegar, with beneficial enzymes and acetic acid. Keep in mind it remains unclear if using ACV in food preparations (such as salad dressing) is as effective as a drink. 

Things to Consider

  • People with poorly controlled diabetes who are experiencing gastroparesis (delayed stomach emptying) may not tolerate ACV well and should speak with a healthcare provider. 
  • Note that this product is also unpasteurized and may not be suitable for gestational diabetes in pregnancy.

Mountain Rose Herbs Ginger Root

Mountain Rose Herbs


Key Specs

Form: capsule | Type: 505 mg ginger root | Dose: 1 capsule | Servings Per Container: 100 capsules | Third-Party Certified: Yes, Consumer Lab

Why We Recommend It

For centuries, ginger has been used as an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory spice, offering potential benefits for blood sugar management. Our top pick among ginger supplements is Mountain Rose Herbs Ginger Root. We appreciate the company’s commitment to sourcing ingredients from organic or “cultivated without chemicals” plants coupled with a dedication to sustainable harvest and fair worker practices. Additionally, herbal supplements can often be contaminated with heavy metals, but this ginger capsule has been third-party tested for safe levels of heavy metals

The key active compound in this supplement, gingerol, appears to be closely linked to glucose regulation and insulin secretion. Research indicates that ginger may enhance the body’s ability to clear glucose from the bloodstream. Randomized controlled trials (the highest quality study) have shown that 1.6–3 grams of ginger taken after meals could potentially lower hemoglobin A1c levels. Mountain Rose Ginger provides just over 500mg of ginger per capsule, and taking one capsule three times per day may help manage diabetes. If you are pregnant with gestational diabetes or managing nausea, this supplement could be a safe and effective choice to help with symptoms.

Things to Consider

  • This supplement is a large capsule and may be difficult for some people to swallow; however, it is powdered and could be opened and added to a drink or food if that is more tolerable for you. A final word of caution: ginger may increase the risk of hypoglycemia. 
  • If you are taking diabetes medications or blood thinners, you should discuss the use of ginger with a healthcare provider.

Supplements We Excluded From Our List

We excluded a few popular supplements for diabetes from our list due to a lack of strong evidence that they actually improve blood sugar or diabetes status, including cinnamon, chromium, and omega-3s. That said, we recommend consulting with your healthcare provider to identify the best supplement for your individual needs.

Is a Supplement for Diabetes Beneficial?

For many people, diet, exercise, and medication work well together to manage glucose levels effectively. There are, however, some groups of people who may benefit from additional supplementation. Mary Ellen Phipps, MPH, RDN, LD, points out, “People with type 1 diabetes tend to be deficient in some nutrients and may benefit from supplementing vitamin D, iron, vitamin B12, or zinc.” Prior to adding new supplements to your regimen, we recommend getting your blood levels checked for possible deficiencies, and we recommend speaking with a healthcare provider to determine how you should supplement accordingly.

Aside from treating deficiencies, supplements for people with diabetes could also be beneficial for the following reasons:

  • You don’t eat a varied diet: If your diet lacks nutrient diversity—maybe you consume few fruits and vegetables, or you choose more fried, fatty meats over lean meats and seafood—then you may be lacking key nutrients that can better help regulate blood sugars and manage concurrent conditions like high blood pressure or heart disease.
  • Medication use: Ironically, one popular medication indicated for diabetes—metformin—can actually lead to developing low blood levels of vitamin B12. If you are on this medication for an extended period of time, you may need to supplement. If you have diabetes and take other medications that manage cholesterol, are on antibiotics, or take antidepressants, note that these can cause nutrient deficiencies, and you may benefit from supplements as well.

Who May Not Benefit From Supplements for Diabetes

According to Phipps, “People with diabetes who are also living with other conditions like liver disease, heart disease, and kidney disease may experience negative effects from adding supplements to their routine because of medication interactions. This is why it is especially important to always speak with your doctor before starting a new supplement.”

The following groups may not benefit from supplements for diabetes.

  • People taking certain medications. Diabetes is often an overlapping condition with high blood pressure or elevated cholesterol, which may require medication management. Some of the medications to treat these other conditions can become less effective if you take high-dose supplements. For example, a statin (cholesterol-lowering medication) may not work as well if you take high doses of vitamin D.
  • People who eat a well-balanced diet. It is possible to manage your blood sugars with diet alone, so if you are consuming a diet rich in vegetables, fruit, lean protein, fish, whole grains, and healthy fats, then you may not benefit from additional supplementation.

How We Select Supplements

Our team works hard to be transparent about why we recommend certain supplements; you can read more about our dietary supplement methodology here. 

We support supplements that are evidence-based and rooted in science. We value certain product attributes that we find to be associated with the highest quality products. We prioritize products that are third-party tested and certified by independent third-party certifiers such as USP, NSF, and ConsumerLab.com. 

It’s important to note that the FDA does not review dietary supplements for safety and effectiveness before they go to market. Our team of experts has created a detailed, science-backed methodology to choose the supplements we recommend.

Our Experts

We interviewed the following experts to determine the best supplements for diabetes: 

  • Mary Ellen Phipps, MPH, RDN, LD, is the author of The Easy Diabetes Cookbook. She has also lived with type 1 diabetes for most of her adult life and helps people manage their blood sugars while still eating delicious food. 
  • Kimberly Rose-Francis, RDN, CDCES, CNSC provides evidence-based recommendations for lowering blood sugars and encourages her clients to approach behavior change in a realistic and sustainable way.
  • Kristie Messerli, RD CDCES, breaks down complex topics of diabetes, like medications and disease progression, in an easy-to-understand manner that helps motivate her clients to make changes for themselves.

What to Look For in Supplements for Diabetes

Third-Party Testing

Supplements that are third-party tested are sent to a lab for purity and potency testing to ensure they contain what they say they contain and do not contain potential contaminants. Trusted third-party certifications include ConsumerLab.com, NSF, USP, and Informed Choice, among others.

However, these certifications can be difficult to obtain and expensive for manufacturers, so many companies choose not to get their products tested. If you are selecting a supplement that does not have third-party testing, we recommend choosing a trusted brand that does rigorous internal testing.

Form

The supplements discussed in this article, and many others for diabetes, come in capsules, gummies, powders, or liquid forms. Ultimately the form of the supplement is up to you, but consider their ease of consumption, price, and added ingredients (such as sugar often found in gummies).

Ingredients & Potential Interactions

It is essential to carefully read the ingredient list and nutrition facts panel of a supplement to know which ingredients and how much of each ingredient is included relative to the recommended daily value of that ingredient. We recommend bringing the supplement label to a healthcare provider to review the different ingredients contained in the supplement and any potential interactions between these ingredients and other supplements and medications you are taking.

Some supplements are known to interact with prescribed medications; therefore, Messerli advises discussing each supplement you are considering with a healthcare provider. Some supplements may also contain added ingredients that are unsafe for various people, such as certain herbs that may be harmful to the liver.

People with diabetes should exercise caution with certain supplements, especially if they are taking other medications. For example, taking vitamin E is not advised if you have diabetes, and also take blood thinners like Coumadin. If you are on diabetes-lowering medications or insulin, you may be more prone to hypoglycemia or low blood sugar if you take supplements like berberine. Always review your medications and supplements with a healthcare provider before beginning a regimen.

Dosage

Potential doses for each of the supplements featured in this article are discussed above. For most vitamins and minerals, there is an established dietary reference intake (DRI), which gives the optimal level for the general population; however, for other supplements, there is no recommendation for how much to take in general, or specifically for improvements in diabetes. Also, some research may demonstrate the need for a dose higher than the established DRI, but it’s always important to discuss doses for your individual needs with a healthcare provider.

How Much Is Too Much?

The upper limit for many of the discussed supplements is also less certain. How much you take may be guided by the established Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL), what your healthcare provider recommends, or whether or not you are deficient in certain nutrients. Taking more than you need of some supplements can lead to unintended consequences. For example, Rose-Francis notes that a high intake of niacin, a B vitamin, may actually raise blood sugars and be counterproductive to glucose management and lowering your hemoglobin A1c.

Frequently Asked Questions


  • Do supplements help with type 2 diabetes?

    It’s possible! Many supplements, like vitamin D, magnesium, and zinc, can directly help manage blood glucose by improving the function of the pancreas or helping to reduce insulin resistance. Other supplements may be helpful for type 2 diabetes in that they can replete nutrient stores that may have become deficient due to diabetes medications, or they can help address damage sustained to other systems of the body (eyes, nerves, heart, kidneys) due to long-standing or uncontrolled diabetes.


  • Can supplements replace my need for medicine if I have diabetes?

    There are many supplements that can very effectively manage insulin resistance and improve glucose levels. In fact, there are some supplements, like berberine and inositol, that have been shown to treat diabetes at levels comparable to medication. However, supplements likely may not fully replace the need for medication for many people, so it’s always important to speak with a healthcare provider before stopping medications.

Why Trust Verywell Health

Casey Seiden is a registered dietitian nutritionist and certified diabetes care and education specialist based out of New York City. Casey works at Maternal Fetal Medicine Associates, the premier maternal fetal medicine practice in Manhattan, where she provides nutrition therapy and counseling to women with high-risk pregnancies. She is also the founder of Casey Seiden Nutrition, a virtual private practice specializing in a non-diet approach to diabetes care and women’s health.

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