Chromium deficiency in Type 2 diabetics: Are you low in this crucial mineral?

Chromium supplements are becoming more popular as a large number of studies have demonstrated the compound’s potential in diabetes treatment and management. The scientific community has long-established that chromium is essential in overall human nutrition and normal insulin function. In fact, health experts have noted that the mineral helps reduce insulin levels and promote blood sugar metabolism in obese individuals and patients with Type 2 diabetes. U.S. Department of Agriculture official Richard Anderson also confirmed that previous research on the effects of chromium supplementation on impaired glucose tolerance and diabetes yielded positive results.

According to the Food and Nutrition Board, the recommended daily adequate intake of chromium for adult women is between 20 and 25 mcg, while adult men require between 30 to 35 mcg per day.

The American Institute of Medicine has not established an upper limit on chromium supplementation, which could mean that the essential mineral does not pose a threat to the general public’s safety. Despite this, past research showed that low chromium levels persist among patients with diabetes.

The scientists also found that diabetes patients excrete more chromium through urination compared with their healthier counterparts.

Studies highlight the importance of adequate chromium levels in diabetes patients

Inadequate chromium levels may negatively impact the overall health of patients with diabetes. However, taking chromium supplements may mitigate the risks associated with mineral deficiency. A small study published in 2006 revealed that Type 2 diabetes patients who took chromium supplements as an adjunct treatment to other anti-diabetes drugs were able to keep weight gain at bay. The patients were also found to have increased insulin sensitivity. As part of the study, a team of researchers from the University of Vermont, Burlington and the Louisiana State University examined 37 patients with Type 2 diabetes. The subjects were classified into two groups: the first one receiving sulfonylurea with placebo, while the other received sulfonylurea plus chromium supplementation for up to six months.

The study revealed that patients in the sulfonylurea/placebo treatment exhibited significant increases in body weight, body fat percentage and total abdominal fat compared with those who were on sulfonylurea/chromium treatment. In contract, those who received chromium supplements exhibited marked improvements in insulin sensitivity compared with the placebo group.

“The data suggests that CrPic [chromium picolinate] supplementation may favorably modulate factors promoting weight gain commonly observed with improvement in glycemic control…These results generally support the view that chromium supplementation has at best modest effects on body weight or composition in individuals with diabetes…In summary, our study demonstrated that subjects with Type 2 diabetes randomized to CrPic as opposed to placebo had significant attenuation in body weight gain, body fat distribution changes, improved glycemic control, and enhanced insulin sensitivity. The mechanisms for these findings are not precisely known, but clinical research studies addressing dietary intake, skeletal muscle fat oxidation, and insulin signaling are ongoing,” the researchers wrote in Diabetes Care, a flagship publication of the American Diabetes Association.

A systematic review published in The Diabetes Educator also revealed that patients with Type 2 diabetes had significantly lower chromium levels compared with those who did not have the disease. The analysis has also confirmed that insulin resistance may increase the risk of developing cardiovascular disease. In addition, the review revealed that one in five Americans have metabolic syndrome, which affects 40 percent of seniors aged 60 to 70 years. However, taking chromium supplements was found to improve the metabolic action of insulin and reduce risk factors associated with cardiovascular disease. The effects was especially pronounced in overweight patients, the review showed. The review also revealed that chromium supplementation may reduce the risk of insulin resistance.

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