Chromium is actually a very important player in the metabolism of glucose. Chromium could be a huge boost to your health, when you consider that there are 18.2 million people in the U.S. alone that suffer from diabetes. And for elderly Americans, the statistics are even more alarming: one out of every five will get the disease. Diabetes can cause some pretty awful complications, like kidney failure, blindness, and nerve damage.
For people actually diagnosed with diabetes, glucose is not transferred and used by their cells. Instead, the glucose builds up in their bloodstream, causing hyperglycemia. Diabetics, either Type 1 or Type 2, usually resort to insulin shots to regulate their blood glucose and avoid constant symptoms of high or low blood sugar. If you are diabetic, or non-diabetic, making sure you get enough chromium in your diet could prevent the need for ever having to use insulin shots.
How does chromium play a role in blood sugar control? It acts as a regulator, and allows your body to use insulin more efficiently. Insulin is a hormone made by special cells called beta cells inside your pancreas. Every time you eat, beta cells release insulin to help the body use the blood glucose it gets from the food you eat. In Type 1 diabetes, the pancreas doesn’t make insulin and the beta cells have been destroyed. Type 2 diabetics make insulin, but the body does not use it efficiently. So chromium — especially in Type 2 diabetics — could help improve this efficiency problem.
In one double-blind, placebo-controlled study, 29 patients with Type 2 diabetes were recruited to determine if chromium had any effect on blood sugar levels. The patients were given two separate treatments: the first consisted of a daily chromium supplement and anti-diabetic medication; and the second treatment consisted of the anti-diabetic medication and a placebo. After 24 weeks, blood sugar levels of study participants taking chromium picolinate in combination with the anti-diabetic medication dropped significantly compared to the group taking the medication plus placebo (-31.00 + 7.37 mg/dL vs. -11.33 + 8.03 mg/dL). In addition, the chromium picolinate group had better insulin sensitivity than the placebo group. But that’s not all — the researchers also discovered that the study participants taking chromium picolinate experienced significantly lower abdominal body fat accumulat! ion than the group taking medication and placebo, and experienced less overall weight gain (0.9 kg vs. 2.2 kg).
How much chromium do you need? The recommended dietary intake for chromium is 120 mcg daily — though it is safe to take a daily dose of 200 mcg. For those with diabetes, the need may be even greater, so talk to your healthcare provider if you fall into this category.