My name is Malcolm Graham. For over 40 years, I was rarely sick or took drugs or supplements (apart from the sporadic use of a multivitamin and vitamin C). I rarely even took over-the-counter drugs for headaches. I had to force myself to start seeing a doctor once a year because I read that people in their 40's should! Everything changed when I was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes in November 2000. During the past few years I've seen more doctors, had more tests conducted, had more blood taken, and consumed more pills than I had in all of my previous years!

My preference is not take any drug or supplement, synthetic or natural. But I will take any food, drug, or supplement (synthetic or natural) that I think, based on the best research available to me, will help me control my diabetes better either now or in the years to come. I tend to prefer "natural" over "synthetic" simply because synthetic sources are often missing ingredients found in natural ones, and with our current state of knowledge leaving out something might be critical to product effectiveness. An example of this is the effectiveness of Vitamin E; Vitamin E derived synthetically is not as effective as Vitamin E derived from natural sources (denoted by d-alpha); and, more recently, the most effective form of Vitamin E has been shown to contain both d-alpha and mixed tocopherols (d-beta, d-delta, and d-gamma).

I would prefer, for example, not to take any Metformin but, at present, such a step is not medically indicated. If I'm taking a supplement that I subsequently learn might do more harm than good, then I stop taking it; for example, I was taking Chromium Picolinate but I stopped taking it when I learned about new research that indicated it might be causing gene defects. Cost is another issue. My supplements were costing me about C$200/month and I'm currently striving to reduce my costs to C$100/month. I'd rather spend the money elsewhere! But I honestly believe, and can justify from solid medical research, that it is money being well spent. My test strips and drugs are free (more accurately, paid for by my insurance). So I could take as much Metformin as it takes to bring my blood glucose to a normal level. But I don't! Why? Because, in general, drugs are not dealing with the root cause of the problem, they only deal with the symptoms due to the root causes. I only take those drugs or supplements which I believe will help my body deal more effectively with the root causes of my diabetes and help my body heal itself or at the very least minimize my current and future need for drugs. For example, one of the effects of Metformin is to decrease the insulin resistance of cells, which seems to be one of the root causes of diabetes. Since diabetes is a progressive disease, my need for drugs is likely to increase in the years to come so it makes sense to me to minimize my use of them now, thereby leaving a greater window of control in the future.

I started taking supplements in January 2001 in an attempt to control my blood glucose levels better and to minimize the possible future complications of Type 2 Diabetes. I've been trying different supplements and reviewing and adjusting dosages each month. As a minimum, I believe everyone with type 2 diabetes should add B6, B12, folic acid to lower their homocysteine level and risk of heart disease (see ref#36 to ref#52); a multivitamin (see ref#54); at least 30g/day of Whey Protein Isolate to improve their immune system (see ref#55 to ref#68); and 1 tbsp/day of EFA (see ref#69).

The information provided herein is intended to be informative not prescriptive. Since there are some commonly-known herb-drug interactions, before taking any supplement seek the advice of your MD (Medical Doctor), ND (Naturopathic Doctor), registered nutritionist or dietitian; also familiarize yourself with the latest supplement research information and the NIH Office of Dietary Supplements, Supplement Quality, Supplement Watch, and ConsumerLab web sites. Only introduce one new supplement at a time and stop taking it immediately, and contact your doctor, if you experience any unusual reactions or feelings. As always, especially if you add a new supplement to your diet, closely monitor your blood glucose levels (immediately before and 2 hours after all meals). Also stop taking any herbal supplements at least 2 to 3 weeks before any surgery. Train yourself to be aware of how you react to stress and how you feel when your blood glucose level is low or high. Ensure that your quarterly and annual laboratory blood tests are performed. Follow your diet and exercise programs.

While heredity may predispose, Type 2 Diabetes is essentially a nutritional disease that affects our ability to metabolize the food we eat and causes our body to age faster; treatment must improve our metabolism and slow down the aging process. Effective treatment involves minimizing the damage already caused by the disease, feeding the diseased body with the correct nutrients to prevent further damage, and creating an environment in which the body can heal itself. Eating a wide variety of foods is the best, cheapest, and most balanced way to provide all the nutrients your body needs. However, due to farming, processing, storage, delivery, and cooking methods, many of the natural nutrients in our food are destroyed. In addition, diabetes also causes a depletion of essential vitamins which no amount of food can replace. Hence the need for supplements. It is important to note that it is possible that taking a supplement, like some drugs, may create a dependancy which may reduce the body's ability to produce its own nutrients. To ensure the quality of the supplements you take, always select a pharmaceutical-grade product with a DIN (Drug Identification Number) or USP (United States Pharmacopeia) number. Also select a manufacturer that has adopted Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) or the international ISO 9000 quality control standards.

My personal goal is to only take supplements that enhance my body's ability to produce its own nutrients and heal itself. I've identified which supplements might be of benefit to Type 2 Diabetics and noted good food sources, the safe therapeutic dosage range, possible benefits, and any known side effects or drug interactions. Personal supplements: Summary; 2008, 2005; 2004; 2003; 2002; 2001

Updated: March 30, 2008