Chromium has been established to be an essential trace element in mammals in regard to maintenance of normal carbohydrate metabolism. Studies that provided chromium to human subjects in documented deficiency states noted improved glucose levels. However, controversy exists as to whether dietary supplementation with chromium should be routinely recommended in subjects without documented deficiencies. Over the recent past, several well-designed clinical trials have provided evidence in favor of and against a beneficial effect of chromium. It appears that across all subject phenotypes (eg, lean and obese, insulin sensitive and insulin resistant), a consistent significant and beneficial effect of chromium may not be observed. Specifically, recent data fail to demonstrate significant improvement in carbohydrate metabolism in individuals with metabolic syndrome, impaired glucose tolerance, or consistently in individuals with type 2 diabetes. However, patient selection may be an important factor in determining clinical response, as it was concluded that a clinical response to chromium (ie, decreased glucose and improved insulin sensitivity) may be more likely in insulin-resistant individuals with type 2 diabetes who have more elevated fasting glucose and hemoglobin A1c levels.
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Dr. William T. Cefalu has received funding from the National Institutes of Health to conduct studies evaluating chromium supplementation in humans. The supplements used for the study were provided by Nutrition 21, a company that makes chromium supplements. However, no monies were received from Nutrition 21. No other potential conflicts of interest relevant to this article were reported.
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Wang, Z.Q., Cefalu, W.T. Current Concepts About Chromium Supplementation in Type 2 Diabetes and Insulin Resistance. Curr Diab Rep 10, 145–151 (2010). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11892-010-0097-3
- Chromium supplementation
- Insulin resistance
- Type 2 diabetes