This week I received the following question from http://foodpicker.org :
I have diabetes and a coworker was telling me I should be taking supplements such as cinnamon and chromium to help control blood sugar. Are these safe and effective?
This is a great question. There has been an abundance of research conducted on these two forms of supplements because of their potential to improve blood glucose control. Cinnamon has been found to delay gastric emptying, similar to the effect of fiber. When it takes longer for your food to empty from your stomach, it tends to prevent a dramatic spike in your blood sugar. Chromium, on the other hand, is a natural regulator of blood glucose in the body. It is often found to be actually deficient in those with diabetes, and appears to be beneficial when provided as a supplement.
So are the safe? Effective? My recommendation is to be careful when using supplements. Although some studies have found them to be effective, much more research must be conducted to determine adequate and safe dosing, side effects, and interactions with other medications. Everyone is very different and has their own healthy history, so these supplements can affect people very differently. This does not mean you cannot try them, but make educated decisions. Do not take more than the recommended dosage, and check with your doctor before starting them.
Also keep in mind that it may take a while before any benefits appear. One study found that chromium and cinnamon had no effect on glucose control until after 12 weeks. Remember that the best thing you can do for yourself, more so than any supplement, is eating right, exercising, and living a happy and positive lifestyle.
Examples of what you will see on the market.
Anderson, Richard. Chromium and Polyphenols from Cinnamon Improve Insulin Sensitivity. USDA. 2008.