Chromium Supplements Show Little Benefit in New Study

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As dietitian Amy Campbell stated in her blog entry “Chromium Confusion,” the research on whether supplements of the mineral chromium can help people control their diabetes is “ever-changing.” Now the latest research on the topic, published in the May 2007 issue of Diabetes Care, has concluded that chromium supplementation is probably not helpful for most people with Type 2 diabetes.

In the study, which took place in the Netherlands, 56 people with Type 2 diabetes were randomly assigned to receive either 400 micrograms of chromium yeast per day or a placebo (inactive pill). The study was double-blind, meaning that neither the participants nor the researchers knew who was receiving which treatment. At the start of the experiment, all participants had HbA1c levels of 7% to 8.5% and were treated with oral diabetes drugs.

Participants’ fasting blood glucose levels, HbA1c levels, blood pressure, body fat percentage, body-mass index, lipid profile (cholesterol and triglycerides), and insulin resistance were all measured three months and six months into the study. No differences were found at either point in any of these measures between the people who received chromium and the people who didn’t.

The researchers concluded that, at least in a Western population with relatively low HbA1c values, chromium supplementation has no added benefit as a diabetes therapy. The researchers hypothesize that this may be because most people in Western countries are able to get enough chromium from the food they eat. They say that further research is needed to develop a way to test people for chromium deficiency, in which case chromium supplements might be useful for enhancing diabetes control.

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