MSM, Glucosamine, and Chromium are supplements that have made recent news. Before taking supplements, patients should consult their healthcare providers.
About MSM and Glucosamine
MSM (Methylsulfonylmethane) is a sulfur compound that is naturally found in the body, and it is derived also from the ocean. It is not a sulfa drug. Although MSM is found in foods, such as vegetables and fruits, it “disappears when we process our food”. The most common food sources of MSM are peppers, onions, asparagus, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, and broccoli. MSM also comes in supplement forms. It is “safe, odorless, and non-toxic”. Without enough sulfur, which would normally be stored in every body cell, the body “won’t be able to repair or replace damaged tissue fast enough”. As a result, illness and disease may occur when the body produces abnormal cells to compensate. Some people may experience pain sensitivity, gastrointestinal problems, acne, brittle hair and nails, dry skin, memory loss, arthritis, rheumatism, and a poor immune system. MSM can assist the body in forming keratin, which is important for the hair and nails. It can also keep the tissue and cells of the skin soft. MSM could be useful for seasonal allergies. As for pain alleviation, MSM may “reduce pain and inflammation…and cramps”. The MSM supplements need to be taken for weeks or months to take effect, and they come in gels, lotions, tablets, flakes, crystals, powders, and capsules. The form of MSM to take depends on the dosage needed. Glucosamine is said to be a supplement that “plays an integral role in the formation of ligaments, tendons and is more effective than NSAIDs”. It can make cartilage healthy and strong, and it can reduce inflammation as well. It is safe to take with MSM, although diabetics should be aware that glucosamine is a “charged sugar molecule”. MSM should be taken early in the day, as it may interfere with sleep. Patients on blood thinners should consult their doctor first. MSM may also interfere with liver enzyme blood test readings.1,2
Chromium and Diabetes
Since the 1950s, brewer’s yeast was found to have a GTF, or glucose tolerance factor, that “prevented diabetes in experimental animals”. It was suggested that the GTF was a form of “trivalent chromium”. Later studies included providing chromium supplementation to diabetic patients and “chromium is now routinely added to TPN (total parenteral nutrition) solutions”. Studies have suggested that chromium is a “cofactor in the action of insulin”, although there is still some controversy about using chromium to “enhance glucose metabolism”. Besides brewer’s yeast, trivalent chromium can be found in whole grain products, nuts, coffee, broccoli, green beans, bran cereals, meat, egg yolks, and some beers and wines. It can also be found in supplements. Chromium supplementation may benefit pregnant women with gestational diabetes. For patients with metabolic syndrome, “insulin resistance is a core feature”. These patients have a larger waist circumference, elevated blood pressure and triglycerides, and low HDL (good cholesterol). Chromium has been found in studies to improve insulin sensitivity in patients with metabolic syndrome. It has only “modest effects on body weight or composition in individuals with diabetes”. More studies are needed.3
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