Recent Research on Chromium Supplements: Some Work and Some Don’t

In a recent Dutch study, researchers gave either a placebo or adaily dose of 400 micrograms of chromium in the form of chromiumyeast to 57 obese, insulin-requiring type 2 patients with A1c’sabove eight percent.

After three months and again after six months, they found nodifference between the two groups with regard to fasting bloodglucose, A1c’s, blood pressure, body fat, weight, cholesterol, orinsulin resistance. They concluded that in Western patients,chromium yeast does not improve blood sugar control, possiblybecause their diet is already sufficiently rich in the mineral.

The researchers added, however, that in non-Western populationswho might be deficient in the mineral, such supplementation may beuseful. Previous studies of Chinese and Indian populations haveshown that chromium supplementation does help people with type 2diabetes control their blood sugar.

A more recent study, evaluating the effects of chromium picolinateplus biotin, showed that this compound does improve blood sugarcontrol in type 2 diabetes. The study, which examined 447 overweightto obese patients with A1c’s of at least seven percent, demonstratedthat a chromium picolinate and biotin formula significantly loweredA1c levels and improved glycemic control.

All patients in the ninety-day study, which was randomized,double-blind, and placebo-controlled, were already being treatedwith oral anti-diabetic medication. The greatest improvementoccurred in patients with baseline A1c levels equal to or greaterthan ten percent, who saw an A1c decrease of 1.76 points.

Our own pharmacy expert, Dr. John White, notes that individuals withdiabetes, especially those with cardiovascular disease, have lowerchromium levels than non-diabetic people. Dr. White reports thatover ten small studies have evaluated the effects of chromiumpicolinate on glucose metabolism and blood fats in people withdiabetes or impaired glucose tolerance, and in people withoutdiabetes.

In most of these studies, an increase in HDL (healthycholesterol), an increase in the effectiveness of insulin, areduction in triglyceride fats, and a reduction of glucose wereobserved. Doses of up to 1000 micrograms per day for as long as 64months produced no toxic effects.

Dr. White concludes that a reasonable supplemental dose is probably400 micrograms per day, but advises a conversation with yourphysician and pharmacist prior to starting your dose, as you couldpotentially experience hypoglycemia and require an adjustment ofyour diabetes medications. If you’d prefer to get your chromiumpicolinate from food, good sources are whole grains, green beans,broccoli, processed meats, and bran cereals.

Source: Diabetes Care, May 2007
Dr. John White
Wiley Interscience

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