Kate Cornell was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in June of 2005. Since then, she has controlled diabetes through dietary changes, exercise, and, more recently, metformin. She shares her experiences and lessons learned here and on her blog, Kate's Sweet Success, which was named as one of the top diabetes blogs for 2015 by Healthline.com.

When you’re living with a diagnosis of diabetes it can be easy to believe some of the claims made by supplement hawkers. Wouldn’t it be nice to take a supplement and be better? A recent study, as highlighted in this article, warns us that some of those supplements might just be harmful.

The study used DNA analysis to determine just what’s in those supplements. Forty-four popular supplements, sold by twelve different companies, were analyzed and the results are alarming. One-third of the products had none of the extracts that were listed on the label! “Fifty-nine percent were contaminated with plant species not listed on the ingredients list, including some that were considered toxic or allergy-producing, as well as other potentially hazardous substances.” Cheap fillers and weeds were also found. Only two out of the twelve companies were actually selling what they advertised: supplements free of contaminants and other plant materials.

Choosing Safer Supplements

You may think that something you buy in a pharmacy is safe, but the Food and Drug Administration does not police supplements like it does prescription and over-the-counter drugs. Only when there have been numerous complaints do they even take notice, and then it can take years before a warning is announced.

It’s always a good idea to consult your doctor before taking a supplement. There may be side effects and other issues you aren’t aware of. Supplements may interact with your prescription medications, and some combinations of supplements can interact harmfully with each other. The U.S. Pharmacopeial Convention is a non-profit organization that will test supplements on request. Look for bottles that have "USP Verified" on the label to ensure that it is a quality product.

As with any other aspect of your health, be smart and pay attention. Work with your healthcare team to come up with the best options for you.

To learn more about this topic:

Taking Herbs with My Diabetes Medication: Is it Safe?
Diabetic-Friendly Holiday Recipe Guide
Question? Herbal Supplement Gymnema Sylvestre