Researchers suggest that getting less chromium than what you need may contribute to the onset of type 2 diabetes over the long term. Rats given a diet low in chromium had insulin levels twice as high as a group of rats fed a diet high in chromium. The results of the study were published in the August issue of Metabolism.
Chemists at the Agricultural Research Service (ARS), the agency conducting the study, use a metaphor to describe how chromium helps people with diabetes:
“[In people with diabetes] a cell’s biochemical door doesn’t open when insulin comes knocking. Or, if it gets in that first door, a second door stays locked. Chromium is one of the keys to keeping both doors unlocked.”
Earlier this year, Israeli researchers discovered that 600 micrograms of chromium picolinate reduced or eliminated the symptoms of diabetes in 41 out of 44 patients with diabetes. The results of the study were published in Diabetic Medicine.
Alexandra Ravina, MD, the lead researcher in the study, started out the patients on 600 micrograms per day of chromium picolinate, and gradually decreased the dosage to 200 to 400 micrograms per day within one week.
“Dr. Ravina’s work is important because it builds upon the growing body of evidence suggesting a role for chromium picolinate in improving glucose control in diabetic patients,” says William Cefalu, MD, associate professor of medicine in the endocrinology, diabetes and metabolism unit at the University of Vermont.
More Chromium For People With Diabetes
Richard Anderson, MD, of the Human Nutrition Research Center in Beltsville, Maryland, says that people with diabetes should take additional chromium.
“Chromium requirement varies with the degree of glucose intolerance, and people with glucose intolerance or diabetes have higher requirements for chromium,” says Anderson, who personally recommends that people with diabetes take 200 micrograms of chromium two or three times per day. “Patients should monitor blood glucose since chromium often results in a decrease in the amount of insulin or oral hypoglycemic agents that are needed. Chromium is a nutrient and not a drug, and will only help those whose glucose intolerance or diabetes is related to insufficient dietary chromium.”
Chromium Can’t Hurt
R. Keith Campbell, RPh, CDE, professor of the pharmacy department at Washington State University, takes chromium supplements at a dose of 400 micrograms per day.
“I have mixed feelings about chromium, but I take it every day, because it’s not going to do any harm.”
Additional Trials Needed
Ravina feels that, “we now need to conduct additional trials to further assess chromium picolinate’s role in the management of this serious medical condition.”
According to Anderson, chromium supplements are available in drug stores, health food stores, department stores and most places where dietary supplements are sold.
Chromium supplements can be taken with or without food in a single dosage.