Chromium Picolinate May Lower Triglyceride Levels

A drop of 17.4 percent in triglyceride levels was obtained in a study conducted at the Medical Center Hospital and the Audie Murphy Veterans Hospital in San Antonio, TX.

The researchers obtained these results by administering chromium picolinate, an over-the-counter supplement, to twenty-seven people with type 2 diabetes between the ages of 32 and 65.

The subjects were randomly assigned to receive a capsule of chromium picolinate, or an identical placebo. After two months of treatment, the groups were not given any capsules for a wash-out period of two months, then were given the alternate capsule for the remaining two months.

At the end of each two month period, the subjects underwent a fasting lipid profile, HbA1c analysis, serum chemistries, complete blood count, thyroid tests, and serum chromium concentration. Patients were asked to continue their pre-study dietary, smoking, and exercise routines during the study.

Though no difference was found between the placebo and chromium picolinate in controlling glucose or cholesterol levels, the researchers found that the chromium group experienced a drop of 17.4 percent in triglyceride levels when taking 200 ug/day.

During the placebo period there was a 0.6 percent increase in mean body weight, compared to a 0.2 percent increase in the chromium group. The study group, which was moderately obese, experienced no side effects while taking the chromium picolinate.

The subjects in the study were most certainly chromium deficient, with only two having measurable levels of chromium.

Long term studies are still needed to see if chromium supplementation may increase insulin sensitivity, and to determine if the lowered triglyceride levels will be long-term.

High triglyceride levels have been linked to atherosclerotic disease, which is responsible for over 75 percent of hospital admissions and 80 percent of all mortality in patients with type 2 diabetes. The researchers concluded that the low cost of chromium picolinate (less than $5 a month) will make it an attractive lipid lowering agent for people with diabetes.

Diabetes Care, Dec. 1994.

Advisory Board—Triglyceride levels bounce around alot, and a change of 17% is not significant. Neither is a 0.6% increase in mean body weight. The key to this study is that chromium probably doesn’t help unless the subject is chromium deficient.

Steven V. Edelman, MD