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Diabetes Supplements

What Are Dietary Supplements?

Dietary supplements were defined in a law passed by Congress in 1994. These are products (other than tobacco) intended to supplement the diet that contain one or more of the following:
  • Vitamins
  • Minerals
  • Herbs or other botanicals
  • Amino acids
  • Any combination of these ingredients.
Dietary supplements are intended to be taken in the following forms:
  • Tablet
  • Capsule
  • Powder
  • Softgel
  • Gelcap
  • Liquid.
These supplements are not represented for use as a conventional food or as a sole item of a meal or the diet. In addition, they must be labeled as being a dietary supplement.
Other important information about dietary supplements includes the following:
  • Dietary supplements are regulated as foods, not drugs, so there could be quality issues in the manufacturing process.
  • These supplements can interact with prescribed or over-the-counter medicines and other supplements.
  • "Natural" does not necessarily mean "safe" or "effective."
  • Consult your healthcare provider before starting a dietary supplement, especially if you are pregnant or nursing, or considering giving a supplement to a child.

Alpha-Lipoic Acid

Alpha-lipoic acid (ALA; also known as lipoic acid or thioctic acid) is a chemical that is similar to a vitamin. This diabetes supplement is an antioxidant -- a substance that prevents cell damage caused by substances called free radicals in a process called oxidative stress. High levels of blood glucose are one cause of oxidative stress.
ALA is found in foods such as:
  • Liver
  • Potatoes
  • Spinach
  • Broccoli.
ALA can also be created in the laboratory. ALA supplements are marketed as tablets or capsules. It is theorized that ALA may be beneficial for diabetes because of its antioxidant activity.
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