Chromium

by Dr. Julian Whitaker
Filed Under: Nutritional Support, Nutrient Guide
Last Reviewed 02/06/2014

Learn how this trace mineral can help with weight loss and blood sugar control

Chromium is a trace mineral found in brewer’s yeast, potato skins, oysters, nuts, and liver. Deficiencies are extremely common, yet chromium is often overlooked in nutritional recommendations since such minute amounts are required for optimal health.

This is unfortunate because chromium is essential for protein, carbohydrate, and fat metabolism. Chromium also plays a key role in blood sugar control.

What Conditions Is Chromium Good For?

How Does Chromium Work?

Chromium’s therapeutic value in blood sugar control was first discovered in the 1950s, when researchers isolated a previously unknown substance from pork kidney. When they gave this substance to laboratory rats with glucose intolerance (a pre-diabetic form of insulin resistance) it caused such significant improvements that they named it glucose tolerance factor (GTF).

This unique compound was found to increase the number of binding sites on cells for insulin, thereby improving the activity of insulin and facilitating the uptake of glucose into the cells. Research intensified and the active ingredient in GTF was identified: chromium.

Due to its ability to improve the action of insulin and to help move glucose (and other nutrients) into the cells, chromium is a powerful therapy for:

  • Increasing insulin sensitivity
  • Lowering blood sugar

Chromium has also been demonstrated to facilitate weight loss, which is a powerful diabetes treatment in and of itself.

What Does the Research Say About Chromium?

Dozens of well-controlled clinical trials have shown the effectiveness of supplemental chromium in patients with diabetes, insulin resistance, and other blood sugar abnormalities. Here are some examples.

In one study conducted by the US Department of Agriculture’s Human Nutrition Research Center and Beijing Medical University, 180 people with type 2 diabetes were divided into three groups and given supplements containing 100 mcg chromium, 500 mcg chromium, or a placebo, twice a day. No other changes were made in their medications, diets, or activity levels.

When their blood glucose levels were tested after four months, the patients taking chromium had reductions in blood sugar, insulin, cholesterol, and hemoglobin A1c.

In another double-blind clinical trial, researchers divided 26 young, healthy people into two groups; one received 220 mcg of chromium while the other was given a placebo. At the end of 90 days, those who exhibited signs of insulin resistance experienced a significant reduction in their blood sugar levels.

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