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Diabetes

Benefits of Chromium Picolinate

10/05/2005

Question:

I hear there is more info out about Chromium Picolinate. Does it work and what are the side affects?

Answer:

Chromium and Type 2 Diabetes Chromium picolinate has been used for many years to help control blood glucose levels. There had always been conflicting information on it's efficacy. Chromium is believed to be an essential trace mineral in human nutrition. Evidence suggests that it plays an important role in normal carbohydrate metabolism. In the 1950s it was found that chromium was necessary for the maintenance of normal glucose tolerance in rats; chromium-deficient rats had impaired glucose tolerance. Subsequently, it was found that patients receiving long-term total parenteral nutrition (TPN) without chromium developed glucose intolerance, weight loss and peripheral neuropathy. These symptoms were reversed when the patients were given intravenous chromium chloride. What does that mean? Chromium is important in glucose regulation. The most dramatic results showing how chromium affects glucose levels came from Richard Anderson, and Dr. Nanzheng Cheng who did a small double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial with 180 adult patients, with type 2 diabetes. All supplements (patients were on 200 mcg or 1000 mcg of chromium picolinate or a placebo) were taken for four months. The patients were also instructed not to change their customary diets, exercise regimens or medications. It was reported, "the use of chromium picolinate supplements significantly droped the level of glycated hemoglobin in type II diabetics". There were no changes in the glycated hemoglobin levels among patients in the placebo group. Fasting blood glucose and serum insulin levels apparently dropped significantly as well. This data is important to provide support in prescribing chromium picolinate. This was reported in the Diabetes Journal, a publication of the American Diabetes Association in 1997. The study was done in this population in China which was selected for having a severely chromium deficient diet.More recent articles support this original research however results have not been as clear cut in people who do not have a chromium-deficient diet. There also have been small anecdotal and observational studies suggesting patients who have insulin resistance have a greater prevalence of chromium deficiency. It can be implied then, that patients who are deficient in chromium will have more significant improvements in glucose control and insulin resistance than those who have normal chromium levels. Whether or not we are soon to recommend chromium levels as a matter of care in all patients with insulin resistance remains to be seen. Dr. Anderson states "Chromium picolinate supplementation is easy, effective and safe and ought to be a consideration for most patients with adult-onset diabetes." His recommendation for supplementation is 200 to 1000 mcg per day.

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Response by:

Ann J Hornsby, MEd, RD, LD, CDE, PC Ann J Hornsby, MEd, RD, LD, CDE, PC
Formerly
Case Western Reserve University

Robert M Cohen, MD Robert M Cohen, MD
Professor of Clinical Medicine
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati