5 Supplements People With Diabetes Should Avoid

5 Supplements People With Diabetes Should Avoid
Certain supplements like St. John’s wort, vitamin E, and niacin can affect glucose levels and may interact with certain medications. Here’s what you need to know.
**When used correctly, dietary supplements can help bring the body into a state of balance by addressing specific nutrient and vitamin deficiencies. **
**Not only do some supplements have the potential to affect glucose levels, but they may also interact with diabetes medications. Here is a look at five supplements that people with diabetes should avoid. **

**However, these benefits also come with risks, especially if you have diabetes and take supplements. **
“Individuals with diabetes should be cautious about consuming excessive amounts of certain vitamins through supplements, as they can potentially interfere with blood sugar levels,” said Barbara Kovalenko, a registered dietician and nutritionist.
1. Vitamin E**
Known for its antioxidant properties, vitamin E is a popular dietary supplement. Like most vitamins and minerals, obtaining vitamin E through natural sources like nuts and leafy greens is safe.
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However, some should exercise caution when taking it in supplement form – especially people who take blood thinners like warfarin. Commonly prescribed to those with heart disease, which those with diabetes are 2-4 times more likely to develop, blood thinners help prevent blood clots from forming in the heart.

Studies show that vitamin E interacts negatively with blood thinners by reducing the body’s ability to form clots even more, increasing the risk of bleeding. If you take any type of blood thinner, avoiding vitamin E supplements is wise.
2. St. John’s Wort
St. John’s wort is an herbal supplement some people use as a mood stabilizer. It’s known to interact with several medications, including diabetes medications like sulfonylureas, thiazolidinediones, and DPP-4s (like Januvia), rendering them less effective and potentially leading to higher blood glucose levels.
Similarly, those who take metformin should also avoid St. John’s wort, as some studies suggest that the supplement causes a build-up of metformin in the body. This build-up causes the body to release more insulin, which may affect glucose levels.

Finally, like vitamin E, avoid St. John’s wort if taking blood-thinning drugs as it may increase the risk of bleeding.

3. Ginseng

Ginseng is an herbal supplement that may improve symptoms of fatigue, reduce inflammation, and boost immunity. It may also lower fasting blood sugar levels and improve insulin sensitivity in those with type 2 diabetes, according to a review of studies on ginseng.

While these findings are positive in theory, these effects may cause blood sugar levels to drop too low when taken with diabetes medications like insulin and metformin. Before supplementing with ginseng, speak with a healthcare provider and monitor your blood sugar closely.

Keep a fast-acting sugar on standby in case you start experiencing symptoms of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) like fast heartbeat, dizziness, or hunger.
4. Niacin
Also known as vitamin B3, niacin is sometimes used to raise HDL or “good” cholesterol levels and lower LDL or “bad” cholesterol levels.
Studies show that niacin also raises glucose levels, making it a potentially dangerous supplement for those with diabetes. Like ginseng, discussing niacin with a healthcare provider is crucial to determine the appropriate dosage and whether supplementing with it is suitable.

5. Chromium

Chromium is a mineral found in whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. It may improve insulin sensitivity in people with type 2 diabetes, though research is largely inconclusive. More studies need to be done exploring how chromium supplementation may interact with common diabetes medications.

The American Diabetes Association and the National Institute of Health suggest avoiding chromium if you take insulin, metformin, and other diabetes medications due to the increased risk of hypoglycemia.