Chromium

What it is: This trace mineral is present in small amounts in whole grains, brightly colored fruits and vegetables; high-sugar diets may cause deficiency.

How it works: Enhances the action of insulin and boosts fat and carbohydrate metabolism

Dose: 1,000 mcg daily of chromium picolinate or chromium polynicotinate, a more bioavailable and affordable form, for weight loss or blood sugar control in diabetics. [For healthy people, 200-400 mcg daily.]

Alpha-lipoic acid

What it is: A fatty acid found naturally in the body and in small amounts in some foods, this powerful antioxidant neutralizes potentially harmful free radicals.

How it works: Uniquely effective in both water and fatty tissues, ALA helps protect nerves and organs from damage by high blood sugar; can lessen symptoms like burning, itching, and numbness.

Dose: 600 mg daily, taken in two doses, of the racemic form of ALA, for enhancing insulin sensitivity and neuroprotection in diabetics. [For healthy people, 200-400 mg daily.]

Gymnema sylvestre

What it is: Known as the “sugar destroyer,” this Ayurvedic herb has long been used in India to manage diabetes; believed to blunt sweet tastes and quell sugar cravings.

How it works: Although research is very young, scientists believe the herb blocks sugar binding sites; two small trials have shown it can improve insulin resistance

Dose: 400–600 mg daily of the GS4 standardized extract in capsule or tablet form

Cinnamon

What it is: Extracts of the aromatic bark from Cinnamomum cassia or burmannii trees

How it works: Research is still inconclusive, but these extracts appear to enhance insulin-signaling pathways and help the stomach empty more slowly.

Dose: 250 mg twice daily of a standardized extract before meals