Biomedical Updates

Nutritional Supplements for Type 2 Diabetes

A new Canadian study searched the scientific literature for supplements that might treat type 2 diabetes, a growing health concern.1 The use of nutritional supplements by patients with this disease is estimated at somewhere between 8% to 49% of the Canadian population.

The question asked was whether there were any reports in the scientific literature for advances in the treatment and prevention of type 2 diabetes achieved by the use of nutritional supplements. Twelve databases were searched with a focus on extracting studies published in the past 3 years.

Among the nutritional supplements identified as potentially beneficial for type 2 diabetes treatment or prevention were: vitamins C and E, α-lipoic acid, melatonin, red mold, emodin from Aloe vera and Rheum officinale, astragalus, and cassia cinnamon. While, beta-carotene was not shown to be effective in the prevention of type 2 diabetes, ranging from preclinical to clinical, there is evidence that the other nutritional supplements may be beneficial in the treatment or prevention of type 2 diabetes. Their bottom-line message was that health providers should investigate drug-nutritional supplement interactions prior to treatment.


  1. Lee T, Dugoua JJ. Nutritional supplements and their effect on glucose control. Curr Diab Rep 2011 Apr;11(2):142-8.

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