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Study confirms blood sugar management potential of chromium picolinate

By Stephen DANIELLS , 01-Sep-2015
Last updated on 01-Sep-2015 at 15:34 GMT2015-09-01T15:34:23Z

Image © iStockPhoto / Zerbor
Image © iStockPhoto / Zerbor

Supplements of chromium picolinate may help to control blood sugar levels in people with poorly controlled type 2 diabetes, says a new study from Brazil.

Chromium picolinate is one of the most established ingredients in the blood glucose management sector via its effects on insulin.

An economic report  from Frost & Sullivan and commissioned by the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN) found that supplements of chromium picolinate for potential diabetes-attributed CHD costs in US adults aged 55 and older and diagnosed with diabetes could offer about potential health care costs savings of $970 million, accounting for supplement costs and current supplement use (less than 1%).

The new study, published in Journal of Trace Elements in Medicine and Biology , adds to the body of literature supporting the product, with data indicating that 600 micrograms per day could beneficially affect blood sugar control in people with poorly controlled type 2 diabetes, without affecting the lipid profile..

“Hyperglycemia, especially postprandial hyperglycemia, has a direct and toxic effect on the vascular epithelium,” wrote researchers from the Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte (UFRN).

“Evidences indicate that high glucose levels (2 h after food intake) are correlated with increased risk of cardiovascular diseases in populations with diabetes. Besides improving glycemic control, the reduction of postprandial glycemia, shown in this study using Chromium picolinate can decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease, a frequent complication in poorly controlled diabetes patients.”

Study details

The Brazilian researchers recruited 71 people with poorly controlled type 2 diabetes and randomly assigned them to one of two groups: The first group received 600 micrograms per day of chromium picolinate, while the second received placebo.

After four months of interventions the researchers found that chromium picolinate supplementation was associated with significantly lower fasting glucose concentration, compared with the placebo group. Specifically, fasting glucose were reduced by 31.0 mg/dL, compared with only 14 mg/dL in the placebo group.

In addition, postprandial glucose levels were also significantly lower in the active supplement group, compared with placebo.

Levels of HbA1c (a marker of long-term presence of excess glucose in the blood) were also significantly reduced in both groups, but the reductions were significantly lower in chromium picolinate group.

While the chromium picolinate group did display increases in serum chromium concentrations, but the group also had reductions in ferritin, a marker of iron status.

“Evidence regarding the adverse effects of chromium picolinate supplementation on iron status in humans is still contradictory, sometimes showing a reduction in the mineral status, mainly due to decreased serum ferritin,” stated the researchers. “This is likely due to competition between chromium and iron for the same binding site in transferrin, interfering in its transport and use.

“Although no major adverse events were observed, further studies are necessary to investigate the effect of chromium supplementation after long-term administration, particularly regarding iron metabolism. The study of the multi-element profiles, including major and trace element concentrations, in different biological matrices, could provide additional evidence for the role of chromium in human type 2 diabetes.”

Source: Journal of Trace Elements in Medicine and Biology
Volume 32, Pages 66–72, doi:
“Beneficial effects of oral chromium picolinate supplementation on glycemic control in patients with type 2 diabetes: A randomized clinical study”
Authors: A.N. Paiva, et al.

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