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Chromium supplements for patients with type 2 diabetes

- and pre-diabetes and overweight caused by unstable blood sugar

Chromium supplements for patients with type 2 diabetesType 2 diabetes is a global health problem, which is associated with cardiovascular disease, eye disorders, kidney disease, and amputations. Many people unwittingly have an early stage of diabetes called metabolic syndrome. This condition is characterized by insulin resistance, where the cellular uptake of glucose is impaired. This causes insatiety, and you risk eating too many sweets and other quick carbohydrates, which the body is unable to burn and therefore stores ad fat, instead. Many people who struggle with their weight also have insulin resistance and unstable blood sugar that affect their strength of will in terms of food choices and increase their risk of type 2 diabetes. A new meta-analysis has shown that chromium supplements may be useful as add-on therapy for type 2 diabetics. Chromium yeast has the best bioavailability, and specific dietary changes can positively influence your blood sugar levels, waist circumference, and weight.

Around 400 million people worldwide have diabetes, primarily type 2 diabetes. The number is expected to reach 592 million in 2035. Type 2 diabetes is characterized by a disturbed sugar metabolism and a progressive impairment of the insulin-producing pancreatic beta cells.
After you ingest various carbohydrates from bread, pasta, potatoes, rice, chips, fruit, juice, or white sugar, the digestive system breaks them down into glucose that is absorbed in the bloodstream (blood sugar). Afterwards, insulin channels the glucose into the cells that need it for energy. There is a limit to how much glucose we can store in our blood and also in the liver, so it is very important that we burn a sufficient amount of glucose in the cells. If you ingest too much carbohydrate – especially the quick carbohydrates – you burden your pancreas, eventually causing insulin resistance. This is a condition where cells no longer respond adequately to the insulin, and their glucose uptake is limited accordingly. The body compensates by producing more insulin, causing insulin levels to be permanently high. This may result in:

Insuffucient glucose metabolism

  • Fatigue and other symptoms that occur as a result of the cells getting too little energy
  • Abnormal desire for quick carbohydrates (sugar cravings)
  • Storage of excess carbohydrates in the form of fat
  • Weight gain and/or more abdominal obesity
  • Loss of magnesium and increased risk of hypertension
  • Overproduction of triglyceride and LDL cholesterol in the liver
  • Increased risk of type 2 diabetes
  • A tendency to inflammation
  • Free radical production that can cause oxidative stress
  • Damage to blood vessels and increased risk of atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease

Type 2 diabetes is believed to be the leading cause of atherosclerosis (including coronary occlusion), stroke, blindness, and kidney diseases. According to epidemiological studies, type 2 diabetics have a 20-40 times higher risk of blindness, kidney failure, and amputations compared with healthy individuals.
In addition, people with early stages of type 2 diabetes are already more prone to atherosclerosis and other complications. The scientists behind the new meta-analysis explain that a lot can be done to control blood sugar levels. One of the things they looked at was the effect of the trace element chromium.

Facts about type 2 diabetes (in Denmark)

  • Around 320,000 Danes have type 2 diabetes
  • About 300,000 Danes are believed to have metabolic syndrome
  • The number of diabetics has more than doubled since year 2000
  • Approximately one third of all diabetics have cardiovascular disease
  • Diabetics have an increased risk of diabetic neuropathy (a nerve condition)
  • 4.5 percent have serious eye disorders
  • Many diabetics have poor wound healing that can result in serious infections
  • 1.2 percent of diabetics have had toe, foot, or leg amputations
  • Diabetes costs Danish tax payers somewhere in the neighborhood of 86 million DKR daily, and the costs are going up

Chromium supplements for diabetics work in several ways

It is widely accepted that chromium is involved in the metabolism of macronutrients (carbohydrates, fat, and protein) and plays a role in the effect of insulin and the maintenance of normal blood sugar levels. It is believed that lack of chromium may cause insulin resistance and diabetes.
Several clinical studies have looked at chromium’s ability to prevent and treat insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes, but there have not been more detailed studies of chromium and its impact on cardiovascular diseases in type 2 diabetics. Because the individual studies have been too limited, the scientists decided to conduct a meta-analysis of 28 randomized, controlled clinical trials. Their findings showed that chromium supplementation had the following effects:

  • Reduction of fasting plasma glucose (a sign of better glucose uptake)
  • Lowering of triglycerides that are harmful for cardiovascular health
  • Elevated levels of HDL cholesterol that is viewed as beneficial

The scientists concluded that chromium supplements are useful as an adjuvant in the treatment of type 2 diabetes. Their research is published in Molecular Nutrition Food Research

Did you know that elevated cholesterol is often a result of blood sugar fluctuations and insulin resistance?

How does chromium affect insulin and blood sugar levels?

After you eat or drink, the glucose has to get into the cells. Insulin works as door key. It turns out that insulin works much better when it is attached to a specific chromium compound (chromodulin). This compound helps channel more glucose into the cells. Figuratively speaking, you get better mileage.
Chromium is therefore essential for optimal glucose uptake, stable blood sugar levels, longer satiety, and for avoiding sugar cravings.

Chromium’s effect on insulin, blood sugar levels, and the cardiovascular system

  • Enhances the effect of insulin
  • Enhances the uptake of glucose in nerve cells, muscle cells, and other tissues
  • Enhances the uptake of glucose in the brain’s “satiety center” and suppresses hunger symptoms
  • Lowers blood lipid values

Chromium sources and causes of chromium deficiency

Chromium is found in different foods such as almonds, beans, nuts, fish, meat, eggs, and brewer’s yeast. Lack of chromium in the soil gives nutrient-depleted crops, and with our modern, refined diets, we only get very limited amounts of chromium. When our blood sugar levels plummet, around 20% of the chromium in our blood is excreted with the urine. If we consume too many fast carbohydrates, it depletes our chromium stores. Stimulant abuse, stress, and long-term dieting can also result in a chromium deficiency.

Chromium yeast has the best effect on blood sugar levels

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has stated that chromium yeast is absorbed up to 10 times better than synthetically manufactured chromium sources like chromium picolinate and chromium chloride.

If you decide to take chromium, study the label

Chromium yeast is absorbed up to 10 times better than chromium picolinate and chromium chloride

Other useful tips on how to control your blood sugar

  • Eat three main mails every day (you may include healthy snacks)
  • Remember to get enough protein with each meal
  • Don’t avoid fat. But stick with the healthy, unspoiled fats
  • Choose coarse carbohydrates that are rich in fiber
  • Eat lots of greens – preferably vegetables
  • Avoid altogether or limit your intake of sugar, juice, and alcohol
  • Avoid altogether or limit your intake of caffeinated beverages
  • Get plenty of sleep and avoid long-term stress
  • Remember to exercise and stay physically active during the day
Remember to read the food labels. Many foods contain a lot of sugar, and sugar has many different names, which can be confusing


Huang H et al Chromium supplementation for adjuvant treatment of type 2 diabetes mellitus

EFSA: Scientific Opinion on ChromoPrecise cellular bound chromium yeast added for nutritional purposes as a source of chromium in food supplements and the bioavailability of chromium from this source. EFSA Journal 2012

Pernille Lund. Sådan får du styr på dit blodsukker og din vægt. Ny videnskab 2013

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