VICUS.COM (31 July 2000)
-- Recently, it was reported that 833 individuals living in China with
type 2 diabetes were treated with chromium in the form of chromium
effects associated with chromium picolinate supplementation
Most studies of chromium
picolinate supplementation reveal no side effects
except gastrointestinal intolerance with dosages of 50 to 200
micrograms/day for less than one month. However, anecdotal
reports of serious adverse effects, including anemia,
cognitive impairment, chromosome damage and interstitial
nephritis, have been reported with chromium
picolinate ingestion in increased dosages and/or
TD, Green GA. Nutrition supplements: science vs. hype. The
Physician and Sportsmedicine. 1997 Jun; 25(6).
Available at URL:
Chromium picolinate, the
organic form of chromium, is a trace element that is a popular
The study subjects
were reported to have experienced improved control of blood glucose
levels, which was accompanied by long-term improvements in their
symptoms of diabetes (Cheng, et
These findings are
significant in light of the fact that type 2 diabetes is poised to
become one of the major challenges to public health in the 21st
growing problem of type 2 diabetes
during the 60th scientific session of the American Diabetes
Association meeting in San Antonio, Texas, in June, Paul Zimmet,
Ph.D., the founder of the International Diabetes Institute in
Melbourne, Australia, summarized the extent of the problem:
2010, 230 million people in the world will have diabetes, almost
twice as many as today.
- Atherosclerosis is
the most common complication of type 2 diabetes, and coronary
artery disease, cerebrovascular disease and peripheral
vascular disease are two to five times more common in people with
is a risk factor for type 2 diabetes, and more than 60% of the
adult population of the United States is either overweight (body
mass index [BMI] of 25-29.9 kg/m2) or obese (BMI >30
kg/m2), with more than 20% of adults falling into the
2 diabetes is now being diagnosed in younger population groups.
Most cases in the 1960s were diagnosed in people older than age
65, while today diagnoses in persons age 35 and older is not
During a recent
interview, James Gavin III, M.D., Ph.D., senior scientific officer at
the Howard Hughes Medical Institute in Chevy Chase, Md., described
type 2 diabetes as one disease with two major problems.
"The first problem
is insulin resistance in peripheral tissues. The second is a
progressive insulin deficiency that is due to the failure of
insulin-secreting beta-cells in the pancreas."
Early in the disease,
according to Gavin, "although it is possible to find qualitative
defects in beta-cell function, the predominant problem in most people
with type 2 diabetes is clinical insulin resistance" (Eriksson, et
The effect can be substantial, as demonstrated in
another study of 180 men and women in China (Anderson, et
al., 1997). The addition of 500 or 1,000 µg/day of chromium
picolinate to their diabetes treatment regimen resulted in improvement
in a range of monitoring parameters, including fasting and two-hour
blood glucose values plus a decrease in plasma
• Brewer's yeast
• Fortified cereals
KR. The Best
Alternative Medicine. What Works? What Does Not? New
York (NY): Simon & Schuster; 2000.
many studies of chromium picolinate in patients with type 2 diabetes
have reported benefits, other studies have not come to the same
it should be mentioned that the researches that found chromium
picolinate to be useful in the treatment of diabetes have not
concluded that it should be used to the exclusion of other established
diabetes treatments. Rather, the contribution of this trace element
when administered in "therapeutic" doses is as an adjunct to
enhance insulin sensitivity at receptor sites of peripheral tissues.
adjustments in other drug therapy may be needed to achieve optimal
diabetes control with minimal side effects. Patients should consult
their health-care professionals before adding chromium picolinate to
their diabetes treatment.
Russo Jr., PharmD, is senior vice president of
medical communications at Vicus.com. He is a pharmacist and medical
writer with more than 20 years of experience in medical education.
Morales AJ, Yen SS. Effects of chromium picolinate supplementation on
insulin sensitivity, serum lipids and body composition in healthy,
nonobese, older men and women. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2000
Anderson RA. Chromium,
glucose intolerance and diabetes. J Am Coll Nutr. 1998
Anderson RA, Cheng N,
Bryden NA, et al.
Elevated intakes of supplemental chromium improve glucose and insulin
variables in individuals with type 2 diabetes. Diabetes. 1997
N, Zhu X, Shi H, et al. Follow-up survey of people in
China with type 2 diabetes mellitus consuming supplemental chromium. Journal
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Franssila-Kallunki A, Ekstrand A, et
al. Early metabolic defects in persons at increased risk for
non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus. N Engl J Med. 1989
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Jeejeebhoy KN. The
role of chromium in nutrition and therapeutics and as a potential
toxin. Nutr Rev. 1999 Nov; 57(11):329-35.
McCarty MF. Toward
practical prevention of type 2 diabetes. Med Hypotheses. 2000