Question

Minerals

How does chromium help my body control blood sugar?

A Answers (2)

  • AStacy Wiegman, PharmD, Pharmacy, answered
    Chromium is needed for your body to make glucose tolerance factor (GTF), which plays an important role in regulating how your body uses insulin. Some researchers believe that low levels of chromium can keep your body from using glucose properly. They believe that chromium supplements can help people with Type 2 diabetes or those who are at risk for it control their blood sugar levels. Although chromium has been extensively studied for its role in blood sugar regulation, the scientific evidence remains inconclusive. Because taking chromium can have an affect on insulin and other drugs to control blood sugar, discuss taking supplements with your doctor before you try them.

  • AMichael T. Murray, Naturopathic Medicine, answered
    One of the key nutrients deserves special mention: chromium. Proper blood sugar control requires chromium because it functions in the body as a key constituent of what is referred to as the "glucose tolerance factor." Chromium works closely with insulin in facilitating the uptake of glucose into cells. Without chromium, insulins action is blocked and glucose levels are elevated. There is evidence that marginal chromium status is quite common in the United States. A chromium deficiency may be an underlying contributing factor to the tremendous number of Americans who have diabetes or hypoglycemia, and are obese.

    There have been over twenty clinical studies with chromium supplementation in diabetics. In some of these studies of type 2 diabetes, supplementing the diet with chromium was shown to decrease fasting glucose levels, improve glucose tolerance, lower insulin levels, and decrease total cholesterol and triglyceride levels, while increasing high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol levels. Although there are also studies that have not shown chromium to exert much effect in improving glucose tolerance in diabetes, there is no argument that chromium is an important mineral in blood sugar metabolism.

    Although there is no recommended daily allowance (RDA) for chromium, it appears that we need at least 200mcg each day in our diet. People with diabetes need to supplement 200 to 400mcg per day. Chromium polynicotinate, chromium picolinate, and chromium-enriched yeast are all suitable forms.
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