Chromium May Enhance Muscle Sensitivity to Insulin

A study published in the February 2006 issue of the Journal of Nutrition says that chromium prompts muscles to become more efficient.

“Researchers found that daily use of chromium picolinate enhanced muscle sensitivity to insulin in obese, insulin-resistant rats,” say researchers at Pennington Biomedical Research Center (PBRC) in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, who, for the study, used Chromax chromium picolinate provided by Nutrition 21. “Specifically, chromium improved the ability of insulin, after attaching to muscle cells, to enhance chemical signals in the cell that promoted blood sugar uptake.”

The study also found that obese, insulin-resistant rats treated with chromium picolinate had improved triglyceride and total high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol ratios.

“These results add to a growing body of evidence, but more importantly, provide a cellular mechanism to explain the effects of chromium picolinate on carbohydrate metabolism,” says William Cefalu, MD, investigator and chief of the division of nutrition and chronic diseases at PBRC.

Food editor’s note: According to the National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplement’s Web site (, “chromium is widely distributed in the food supply, but most foods provide only small amounts (less than 2 micrograms per serving). Meat and whole-grain products, as well as some fruits, vegetables and spices are relatively good sources. In contrast, foods high in simple sugars (like sucrose and fructose) are low in chromium. The recommendation for healthy adult Americans is between 20 and 35 micrograms per day, depending upon gender and age. The amount of chromium found helpful for humans at high risk for diabetes is between 200 and 600 micrograms per day.

Absorption of chromium tends to decrease with age, especially in people taking medications that affect stomach acidity such as antacids, H2-blockers and proton-pump inhibitors (PPIs). Corticosteroids also impair chromium absorption.

Always talk with your healthcare professional before taking any nutritional supplement.

About Chromium

Chromium is an essential mineral that is needed for insulin activity in the metabolism of carbohydrate, fat and protein. In August 2005, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) allowed a qualified health claim for chromium picolinate and confirmed its safety. The FDA’s ruling was based on the findings of an earlier randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial conducted by William Cefalu, MD, which showed that chromium picolinate helps to significantly increase insulin sensitivity in those at high risk for diabetes.

Source: Nutrition 21

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