Glucerna vs. Ensure Original

Oral nutrition supplements can help you meet your nutritional needs when you're not eating well, whether due to a poor appetite or poor food choices. Glucerna and Ensure Original are two oral nutrition supplements made by Abbott Nutrition 23. While these supplements have the same purpose, Glucerna is slightly different because it was designed to serve as a supplement for a specific chronic illness 5. Consult your doctor before adding any oral nutrition supplements to your diet.

Who Needs What

Ensure Original and Glucerna are nutrition drinks that are high in calories and protein and a concentrated source of vitamins and minerals 23. Ensure Original is marketed as a meal or snack replacement drink suitable for anyone who's concerned about meeting his nutritional needs 3. Glucerna contains ingredients specifically designed to aid in blood sugar control and is meant for people with diabetes. Health professionals often recommend oral nutrition supplements to people who are not eating well due to an illness. These types of supplements, including Ensure Original and Glucerna, have been shown to improve health outcomes in those who are sick and malnourished 3.

Nutrition Basics

While both supplements are a concentrated source of nutrients, the calorie, carb, protein and fat content of the two drinks differ. One 8-ounce serving of Ensure Original contains 220 calories, 9 grams of protein, 32 grams of carbs, less than 1 gram of fiber and 6 grams of fat 3. The same serving of Glucerna contains 200 calories, 10 grams of protein, 27 grams of carbs, 3 grams of fiber and 7 grams of fat 5. They also each contain different nutrients for heart health. Ensure contains omega-3 fatty acids and Glucerna phytosterols. But, they are both lactose- and gluten-free.

A Closer Look at the Carbs for Diabetes

Carbohydrates in food affect blood sugar. To gain better control over blood sugar, people with diabetes need to control the amount of carbs they eat at each meal and snack. As a lower-carb supplement, the Glucerna makes a better choice for people with diabetes than Ensure Original 35. In addition, Glucerna contains a special blend of carbohydrates Abbott Nutrition calls Carbsteady, which is described as a carbohydrate that digests slowly to help minimize blood sugar spikes 2.

What About the Vitamins and Minerals

One serving of either Ensure Original or Glucerna meets 25 to 30 percent of the daily value for most vitamins and minerals, including vitamins A and D, folate, iron and zinc 35. Glucerna is, however, a better source of vitamin C -- providing 100 percent of the daily value -- and chromium -- providing 170 percent of the daily value 5. Vitamin C may help with blood sugar control and aid in preventing diabetes-related complications. Chromium, a trace mineral, may also help with blood sugar control in people with diabetes, but more studies need to be done before formal recommendations can be made.