For Your Good Health: Cinnamon Supplement Appears to Affect Glucose Reading | Lifestyles


DEAR DR. ROACH: I had mildly elevated glucose levels (104-109) for several years. I found a food supplement based on cinnamon, vitamin D and chromium. I took the prescribed amount for a while and had a blood sugar test of 61. Not sure if it was a fluke or not. A recent A1C test came in at 5.9%. I dropped that dose and now only take half of it three or four times a week. My blood sugar has gone up.

I have also had slightly elevated creatinine levels (1.3-1.6) in the past. This was the case before starting the cinnamon supplement. My creatinine readings have been largely stable since starting the product. Can you tell me if this product is safe and if it could harm my kidneys? —DP

RESPONNSE: The A1C test looks at average blood sugar levels over the past two months or so by checking the amount of sugar bound to hemoglobin molecules. A level below 5.7% is normal; 6.5% or more is diabetes. Your level is in the prediabetes range, which puts you at high risk of developing diabetes.

Cinnamon was marketed as a natural treatment for diabetes a few years ago, and an analysis of studies found that it lowered average blood sugar levels by about 9 points, which is about an A1C drop of 0, 3%, which would be enough to make your blood sugar high. the level goes into the normal range. Unfortunately, another review of published studies found no benefit to glucose, A1C, or insulin levels from using cinnamon supplements.

Likewise, the evidence for chromium is suggestive, but not definitive. One review showed that chromium improved blood sugar levels in people with diabetes, but reviewers noted that the studies were mostly of poor quality. Vitamin D deficiency may be a risk factor for diabetes, but giving more vitamin D to people who are not vitamin D deficient has not helped improve diabetes control.

As you say, a single blood sugar reading could be a fluke, and you’d want to see a significant trend in blood sugar levels or a sustained drop in your A1C before concluding that any therapy – prescribed or over-the-counter – was effective.

In reasonable doses, cinnamon, chromium, and vitamin D are all safe. There is no risk of kidney damage when taken as directed. Yet a healthy diet and regular physical activity are far more likely to have beneficial effects on diabetes control than a supplement.

DEAR DR. ROACH: Plants apparently produce oxygen while absorbing CO2. A year ago we moved into an apartment, and the only place we could find for a large potted ficus was in our master bedroom. Does it promote our health while we sleep? — Anon.

RESPONNSE: Unfortunately, the amount of oxygen provided by a houseplant is not very great. A human consumes about 500 liters of oxygen per day, while a typical houseplant can produce 20 liters per day. Given the size of an apartment, the oxygen it produces will diffuse and not significantly increase the oxygen concentration in your apartment. Apartments and houses are not remotely sealed.

Worse, plants make oxygen only when they are photosynthesising, that is, when they are in the sun. During the night, plants respire like us and produce CO2 and consume oxygen, although at a very low rate.

Finally, more oxygen is not better for humans – unless you have a lung or (rarely) heart disease that requires oxygen. I remember years ago I saw athletes breathing oxygen from tanks, but it’s useless in healthy people.

— Dr. Roach regrets that he cannot respond to individual letters, but will incorporate them into the column whenever possible. Readers can email questions to or send mail to 628 Virginia Dr., Orlando, FL 32803.


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