Consumers are taking a proactive role to combat high blood sugar—which includes taking supplements.
With 28 million people in the United States suffer-ing from diabetes, as well as another 80 million with pre-diabetes, the concern with blood sugar has become a health care priority.
“There are many factors which can contribute to rises in blood glucose for those with type 2 diabetes, such as metabolic syndrome, weight gain, dehydration, lack of sleep, hormonal irregularities, insufficient exercise, medication interactions and stress,” said Carol May, president of Arizona-based Wisdom Natural Brands, producer of stevia products. “However, the daily diet remains the primary resource for change for the majority of people with this disease.”
Beyond the U.S., according to the International Diabetes Federation (IDF), more than 415 million people worldwide have elevated blood sugar levels and are diagnosed with diabetes (as of 2015). It is predicted that by 2040, this number will be more than 640 million. “The unfortunate situation is that more than 50 percent remain undiagnosed, indicating the general population could benefit from natural supplements to support healthy blood sugar levels,” said Shaheen Majeed, marketing director with Sabinsa in New Jersey. “There is an exponential demand for evidence based ingredients and products that are safe and effective.”
“Increased efforts are needed to educate diabetes patients on the potential benefits and values of other nutraceutical ingredients backed by science to address their diabetes status and related conditions,” added Bryan See, regional product manager with New Jersey-based ExcelVite Inc. He pointed to a “ground-breaking” economic report by Frost & Sullivan (commissioned by the Council for Responsible Nutrition [CRN] Foundation), which stated that chromium picolinate dietary supplements use to address diabetes-attributed coronary heart disease costs could lead to a potential cost saving of U.S. $970 million per year (or U.S. $7.80 billion savings from 2013 to 2020). “This is a significant saving given that there is only up to 1 percent of diabetic adults over the age of 55 being regular users of chromium picolinate; not to mention that this is only one ingredient that the report has focused on.”
General awareness among consumers that herbs and supplements can support good health and minimize the likelihood of developing many conditions has increased, said Majeed. Consumers are more likely to trust those products with proven clinical safety and efficacy. High-quality, clinically proven ingredients are preferred for any serious health condition including blood sugar management. A holistic approach such as improved insulin sensitivity, repair of damaged pancreatic cells, increased insulin production and so on is ideal and possible with the use of selected natural ingredients.
See agreed, noting that some consumers are becoming increasingly aware of the need to take preventative action to manage their health by taking the necessary steps to screen and monitor blood sugar levels and making dietary and lifestyle changes to prevent diabetes. “Furthermore, instead of just looking for a dietary supplement product or ingredient to address blood sugar control, these consumers are becoming savvy enough to understand that they need to also address risk factors that might worsen their health if they have diabetes—such as cardiovascular diseases.
This leads to a growing marketplace for multiple products/ingredients to address overall health being in the concept of preventive health care.
Annie Eng, CEO of Florida-based HP Ingredients, said that from the company’s perspective, ingredients tend to evolve when regular scientific exploration reveals mechanism(s) of action. “From this point, experienced researchers can design efficacy studies; and those that have positive outcomes then become very attractive to brand marketers, retailers and consumers. Our ingredient in this category has been shown to support healthy blood sugar via working in the metabolic and NAFLD (non-alcoholic fatty liver disease) pathways.”
HP Ingredients’ BERGAMONTE BFP fits this bill, Eng added. “This natural ingredient contains bioactive compounds of citrus bergamia risso juice and albedo extract standardized to > 38 percent polyphenolic flavonoids consisting of naringin, neohesperidin, neoeriocitrin, 1 percent melitidine, and 2 percent brutelidine. These flavonoids are clinically proven to help maintain healthy blood glucose levels, and healthy cholesterol profiles. When these numbers are elevated, the medical community considers it as potential presence of metabolic syndrome.
Evolution of Ingredients
Aparna Kalidindi, PharmD, BCPS, technical sales and marketing manager with Natreon, Inc. in New Jersey, said there are a wide range of applications with ingredients being used in this category. “For example, ingredients such as chromium, gymnema sylvestre and alpha lipoic acid are beneficial for blood glucose control, but are also used for cardiovascular health as well, especially in addressing elevated lipid levels.”
Virginie Codran, product manager with Frutarom Health in Belgium, noted that plant derivatives with supported hypoglycemic properties have been used in folk medicine and traditional healing systems around the world. When it comes to health and prevention, consumers are looking for natural solutions as alternatives to prescription medications,” she said. “Thus, functional foods and dietary supplements positioned to address issues of blood sugar management and issues of insulin resistance represent mass market opportunities. A recent Health Focus Survey reported that more than one third of primary grocery shoppers think that ‘helps maintain healthy blood sugar levels’ is a very/extremely important claim and 60 percent showed interest in low glycemic index foods.”
High blood sugar is not only a concern for those with pre-diabetes or diabetes, she added. “Healthy individuals register the diabetes epidemic and want to take natural, preventive measures. However, although the blood glucose management market shows great potential, there are also some challenges. On the one hand, consumers´understanding of glycaemia management is still quite limited and additional communication efforts are needed to increase public awareness and understanding. On the other hand, the market is highly regulated. Nonetheless, regulatory bodies acknowledge the benefit of blood glucose management as relevant for human health. Thus, proven efficacy and safety of a product is essential to gain consumers attention and trust as well as to overcome regulatory hurdles. In all, Portusana, with its demonstrated clinical efficacy, is the perfect ingredient for innovative applications in the area of blood glucose management.”
A Range of Approaches for Management
As noted earlier, a holistic approach is preferred in the management of lifestyle-related health conditions. For blood sugar level management in particular, it is not usually in isolation, but associated with other conditions such as high cholesterol, obesity and conditions that sum up to metabolic syndrome. “Ingredients such as Curcumin C3 Complex have not only been evaluated for their role in managing sugar levels, but in all other parameters associated with metabolic syndrome,” Majeed said.
See also noted that formulators are using bio-enhanced active ingredients that have increased absorption into plasma (bioavailability). “In addition, manufacturers are beginning to formulate and develop functional food and beverage for the convenience aspects.”
That may come with some disadvantages, according to Mitch Skop, senior director of new product development with Pharmachem Laboratories in New Jersey.
“Americans simply adore sweets, and the advent of stevia and other natural non-nutritives as natural sweetening agents in packaged products and for baking should hopefully have a long-lasting and powerful effect on helping millions of people to support healthy blood sugar response,” he explained. “That said, carbohydrates (the ‘bad’ or simple kind) still remain a ubiquitous aggravator of unhealthy blood sugar response—that when unchecked for the long-term dramatically increases risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Overall, we see primarily tablets and capsules (pill form), because to provide effective support for healthy blood sugar response, anything in food form may pose a contradiction, especially if it is not sweetened with such ingredients as stevia. And, too, there are supplements that have been clinically shown to do double-duty, assist in weight reduction and assist in promoting healthier blood sugar response, similar to how omega-3 EFAs (essential fatty acids) promote healthy cardiovascular function and support healthy brain structure and cognitive abilities.”
Innovations, Health Studies
It is a rare person who can willfully and totally give up the type of carbs found in breads, pasta and potatoes, Skop said, adding that favorite traditional comfort foods all contain one or more of these. “For good reason,” he said, “there is indeed a ‘feel good’ effect in such indulgences. There is a side effect to this indulgence, the unhealthy flood of blood sugar, the sharp spike.
“Therefore, to assist in enjoying that ‘feel good’ food, we have created Phase 2 DietSpice which provides a specific health advantage through a functional ingredient in a form that is a seasoning for a wide variety of food. DietSpice adds popular flavors—Italian, Asian, Butter & Spice and Cinnamon Sweetener.
Prenulin, also from Pharmachem, is a combination formula of L-arabinose and high-quality forms of chromium. As such, Prenulin provides the consumer with both the glucose absorption benefits of L-arabinose and the insulin control capability of chromium. Further, brand marketers may choose Prenulin with Pharmachem’s Food-Bound Chromium, a unique patented form of pre-chelation, and also with Chromax chromium picolinate (Nutrition 21). This form is GRAS (generally recognized as safe) for nutritional bars and beverages, widening the options of delivery and use for Prenulin.
Clinical studies that emphasize the safety and efficacy of any ingredient are what suppliers and manufacturers are looking for. Further, any formulation guidelines, details on the physical and chemical nature of the ingredient, and its compatibility with other ingredients are some of the additional features in which they may be interested.
Pharmachem’s Phase 2 is known to help reduce digestible carbs in starch-rich foods; and has been clinically shown to reduce the digestion and absorption of carbohydrates by up to 66 percent.
Skop noted that a review of more than a dozen studies, published in the Nutrition Journal, concluded that Phase 2 Carb Controller has the potential to not only induce weight loss but to reduce spikes in blood sugar caused by carbohydrates. In the study, co-author Jay Udani, MD, CEO of Medicus Research, explained, “Phase 2 Carb Controller has demonstrated the ability to cause weight loss with doses of 500 to 3,000 mg per day, in either a single dose, or in divided doses. It also has the ability to reduce the post-prandial spike in blood glucose levels” (Udani, J., Nut J 2011).
Two double-blind, placebo-controlled studies were conducted to examine the effects of Prenulin on circulating glucose and insulin responses to sucrose challenge. In both studies, consumption of Prenulin was shown to significantly lower both circulating glucose and insulin levels after consumption of a 70-gram sucrose challenge, compared to placebo. (Kaats, et al. Nut J, 2011; 10:42).
At Frutarom, Codran pointed to two studies published in 2016. “Pruslane Extract and glucose homeostasis in adults with type 2 diabetes” is a double-blinded, placebo controlled clinical trial designed to evaluate the efficacy and safety of Purslane extract in improving glucose control, blood pressure and lipid profile.
The second study, “Biomolecular characterization of putative antidiabetic herbal extracts,” aims to investigate the GLUT4 translocation induction capacity of plant extracts. Both showed very promising results for purslane extracts.
Kalidindi explained that Natreon’s Crominex3+, used for blood glucose management and more, is a trivalent chromium supplement prepared by complexing Chromium III with two natural products, Phyllanthus emblica (Natreon’s Capros) and shilajit (Natreon’s PrimaVie Purified Shilajit). This complex minimizes the conversion of trivalent chromium to toxic hexavalent chromium and it also increases bioavailability. Studies have shown that Crominex3+ is synergistic to glipizide and metformin in decreasing the fasting blood glucose levels, post-prandial blood glucose levels, HbA1c, hsCRP, and urinary microalbumin levels in type 2 diabetics (this study has been published).
Two recent clinical studies in type 2 diabetics and pre-metabolic syndrome subjects, have shown that Crominex3+ is more efficacious than the other branded chromium products in the market in managing blood glucose levels and also in improving endothelial function, lipid profile, and hsCRP levels. These studies are currently pending publication. In addition, Crominex3+ is very economical, with each 400 mcg dose costing less than one penny per day. Safety and toxicology studies have been completed in the USA and prove Crominex3+ to be a safe chromium supplement.
At Sabinsa, a recent study on the role of Curcumin C3 Complex in managing dyslipidemia in metabolic syndrome patients has re-emphasized its potential as one the most important nutraceuticals for general wellness and good health.
Patients diagnosed with metabolic syndrome according to the NCEP-ATPIII criteria who were receiving standard care were assigned to either bioavailable curcuminoids (C3 complex+BioPerine; 1,000 mg/day; n = 50) or placebo (n = 50) for eight weeks. Results revealed that curcuminoids were more effective than placebo in reducing serum LDL-C, non-HDL-C, total cholesterol, triglycerides and Lp(a), and elevating HDL-C concentrations (Panahi et al., 2014 Complementary Therapies in Medicine. 22(5): 851-857).
In addition, curcuminoids from the rhizomes of Curcuma longa, have the potential to reduce biomarkers of systemic inflammation, Majeed noted, adding that well-recognized among them are NF-κB, TNF-α, COX-2 and selected interleukins. “With respect to high blood sugar levels, TNF- α and interleukin 6 (IL-6) are considered as the most important cytokines responsible for chronic low-grade systemic inflammation, also called ‘metabolic inflammation.’ This is commonly associated with metabolic disturbances such as type 2 diabetes. Pro-inflammatory cytokines have been reported to induce the development of insulin resistance by altering the insulin-signaling pathway or via triggering inflammatory pathways. There is some evidence that curcuminoids inhibit these inflammatory markers and can play a vital role in managing elevated blood sugar levels.”
In a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel-group clinical study conducted by researchers at Baqiyatallah Hospital in Iran, 117 subjects with metabolic syndrome were enrolled and randomized either to receive Curcumin C3 Complex with BioPerine (1,000 mg, 5 mg/day) or matching placebo for eight weeks. At the end of the study, a significant difference in several inflammatory markers was observed which corroborated with ideal blood sugar levels. (Panahi et al., 2016. Biomedicine & Pharmacotherapy 82: 578–582)
Similarly, See noted that EVNol SupraBio doesn’t directly address blood sugar imbalance. However, in recent human clinical studies, oral supplementation of EVNol SupraBio has shown significant result in supporting healthy cholesterol, blood pressure, inflammation markers (cytokines levels) and fatty liver in adults with metabolic syndrome.
In 2012, researchers at Stanford University School of Medicine reported that people with fatty liver disease were significantly more likely to develop type 2 diabetes mellitus within five years than those with healthy livers. Science Daily has also reported that patients who have NAFLD are at a high risk of developing end-stage liver diseases, cirrhosis, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases (heart attack, stroke, etc.). NAFLD can be considered as a precursor for diabetes.
While awareness among consumers that herbs and supplements can support good health and minimize the likelihood of developing many conditions has increased, whatever a consumer chooses, See noted that they must discuss with their doctors before they start taking supplements for healthy blood sugar support. NIE
For More Information:
ExcelVite Inc., (732) 906 1901
Frutarom Health, +32 52 319 532
HP Ingredients, (877) 437-2234
Natreon, Inc. (732) 296-1080
Pharmachem Laboratories Inc., (800) 526-0609
Sabinsa, (732) 777-1111
Wisdom Natural Brands, (800) 899-9908