Vitamins, Minerals, Supplements…

Maybe a Potion or Two Would Work for Me?

By Dace L. Trence, MD, FACE

How often have you seen an advertisement for a product that promises to control your diabetes or diabetes-related problem such as elevated cholesterol and have been tempted? You may have even purchased the product and then become concerned that it may not be effective or even safe to take. Maybe you’re not sure how much to take. Perhaps you decided to take the product any way and see what happened.

From studies, at least 60%-75% of people with diabetes have tried at least a supplement or vitamin specifically to treat their diabetes or diabetes-associated condition at some time. Some products that in the past were considered “supplements” have become the basis for prescription medications. For example, goat’s rue, used in past centuries for the treatment of elevated blood sugars, today would more readily be recognized as the prescription drug metformin. Yet many others have fallen by the wayside as their effectiveness or toxicity have made the agents unusable.

Dr. Dace Trence is Director of the Diabetes Care Center and Associate Professor of Medicine at the University of Washington Medical Center in Seattle. She is also the University of Washington Endocrine Fellowship Program Director and Director of Endocrine Days, a medical education program for endocrinologists practicing in the Pacific Northwest. She is on the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists Board of Directors, and chairs the CME Committee.