Chromium is an essential mineral for metabolizing blood sugar and fats. It is known that severe chromium deficiency can cause reversible insulin resistance and diabetes. It is by and large the biggest vitamin or mineral to have an effect on diabetics.
These foods are most rich in chromium: wine; beer; coffee; tea; brown sugar; molasses; and brewer’s yeast.
As for chromium supplementation, there are mixed results when used to treat type 2 diabetes. First let’s take a gander at the positive results. (Note: ug stands for micrograms.):
A study involved 180 diabetics randomly assigned to one of three groups: 1) placebo; 2)100 ug chromium picolinate (Cr) twice daily; or 3) 500 ug Cr twice daily for four months.
Placebo lowered HbA1c levels (the indication of sugar in your blood) by 8.5%, while 200 ug of chromium lowered it 7.5% and 1,000 ug of chromium 6.6%. While placebo dropped fasting blood glucose by 8.8 mmol/l, 1,000 ug of chromium did it by 7.1 mmol/l. The average drop of HbA1C was 1.45% — bigger than all diabetes drugs. The higher dose of chromium led to significant reductions in total cholesterol levels as well as insulin among those who had the highest levels.
Patients who had poorly controlled type 2 diabetes received Cr (600 ug) plus biotin (two mg) daily for 90 days. The results show that the overall HbA1C decrease in chromium/biotin-treated patients was 0.54%. The results show that, the more poorly the condition is controlled, the greater chromium works.
Forty newly diagnosed patients with type 2 diabetes were randomized to receive nine grams of brewer’s yeast (42 ug Cr) daily or to receive yeast without chromium for three months. Chromium reduced HbA1c from 9.51% to 6.86%, dropped fasting blood glucose from 197 to 103 mg/dl and reduced total cholesterol from 199 to 189 mg/dl, triglycerides from 145 to 126 mg/dl, and LDL cholesterol from 119 to 99 mg/dl.
In a review of studies involving a total of 1,200 participants, 200 to 1,000 ug of chromium picolinate and brewer’s yeast a day for six to 26 weeks lowered HbA1C by an average of 0.6% and fasting blood glucose by an average of one mmol/l.
Two studies failed to show a beneficial effect of chromium in diabetes.
In a study involving 36 type 2 diabetic patients (average age of 61), people received placebo or 400 ug of chromium-enriched yeast for 12 weeks. They found that fasting blood glucose was lowered in the chromium group as compared to placebo. Also, HbA1C was unchanged in the chromium group, while it increased in the placebo group from 6.94% to 7.11%. It was not positive that fasting insulin levels decreased more in the chromium group.
In the other study with negative results, neither 500 nor 1,000 ug of chromium picolinate led to any greater health benefits than placebo.
For chromium, the safe dose is 50 to 200 ug a day. Higher dosages (600 to 2,400 ug a day) have led to reports of heavy metal toxicities, including liver and kidney failure, anemia, and weight loss. People with liver or kidney diseases should use chromium with great caution under the supervision of their healthcare practitioner. Moreover, people with psychiatric disorders should avoid chromium since it has an unpredictable effect on neurotransmitter levels — the site of many antipsychotic drugs.