Chromium - Diabetes - Chromium picolinate

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Chromium, in its nutrition supplement form as chromium picolinate, helps to treat diabetes by enhancing the metabolic effect of insulin by increasing insulin sensitivity.
Chromium, one of the essential trace minerals is present in our body in small amounts.
The nutrition sources of chromium include broccoli and leafy vegetables, whole grains, lean meat and brewer's yeast.
Of the nutrition supplements available, chromium picolinate is the best with comparatively higher absorption rates (preferred in diabetes treatment).
An adequate intake is arrived at 35 mcg/day for men and 25 mcg/day for women ( in the age groups of 20 to 50 years).

Chromium deficiency can cause diabetes-like condition

Chromium potentiates insulin and causes its effective function in the human body. In the classical case study of 1970s, a woman, who was on intravenous (parenteral) feeding for a long period developed severe diabetes and impaired glucose tolerance.
Even after administration of 50 units/day of insulin exogenously, she was still losing weight and developing neuropathy.
When chromium nutrition supplements were added to total parenteral nutrition (TPN) the condition resolved in three weeks and she no longer required exogenous insulin.
With many repeats of such situations, presently, parenteral formulations are routinely supplemented with this trace mineral.
Many research studies have shown that chromium picolinate, shows positive effects on impaired glucose tolerance and the resultant diabetes by improving the metabolism of blood sugar and decreasing the insulin levels in the blood.

Benefits of chromium picolinate in the treatment of Type 2 diabetes mellitus

The efficacy of chromium in overcoming insulin resistance type 2 is well documented in a double-blind study (a study in which neither the persons conducting the experiment nor the subjects of the experiment know the critical aspects of the study) for four months conducted in China.
180 type II diabetes patients were given doses of either 500 mcg chromium picolinate, 100 mcg chromium picolinate or placebo,twice daily.
In the evaluations at the end of two months and also at the end of four months, the group of patients, who were given 1000 mcg of chromium picolinate daily, showed significant and consistent improvements in their health and nutrition status.
Two hours subsequent to glucose intake, the insulin and blood glucose concentrations (fasting insulin, fasting glucose and glycosylated hemoglobin) had decreased significantly.
With doses of 200 mcg per day, there was no reduction in the fasting glucose; however the fasting insulin decreased as much as with the high dose, with considerable reduction in glycosylated hemoglobin.
This and other subsequent studies have shown that chromium at higher doses positively affect the conditions.
Another surprising and welcome effect of high doses of chromium picolinate is that there is significant drop in triglycerides; elevated levels of triglycerides further complicate the condition of disease.
Type I diabetes patients, who basically suffer from insulin insufficiency, may not gain much with the trace mineral therapy.
However there are instances wherein type I patients also develop insulin tolerance (type II condition) due to chromium deficiency.
There is marked improvement in their condition when chromium supplements are given as the insulin intake is better utilized with the decrease in type II condition.

Benefits of chromium picolinate in treating gestational diabetes

About 2% of pregnant women develop gestational diabetes in the second/third trimester.
Unless the blood glucose levels are controlled, the developing fetus may suffer adverse effects.
Studies on a group of pregnant women with gestational diabetes (showing symptoms during pregnancy) have clearly demonstrated that use of less than one mg. of chromium picolinate supplement caused significant reduction in the blood glucose levels.
This trace mineral supplement also reduced hyperinsulinemia (abnormal high levels of insulin hormone in blood) and also showed improvement in insulin sensitivity in pregnant women with gestational diabetes.
However in severe high blood glucose conditions insulin therapy will be required.

Chromium picolinate supplements and risks in people taking diabetes medication

Individuals taking medication or insulin, must take the advice of their health care provider before starting on picolinate nutrition supplements of this mineral.
These individuals might already have a programmed medication regime for the treatment of insulin resistance.
Introduction of the nutrition supplement will require change in the frequency and type of diabetes medication and the schedule of blood glucose monitoring.
Chromium picolinate nutrition supplement intake in individuals with diabetes, without proper regulation and monitoring of medications, can lead to hypoglycaemia and other complications.
Hypoglycaemia can cause weakness, unconsciousness, seizures, permanent brain damage and death.

Diabetes treatment with chromium picolinate and possible side effects

As there are no adverse reactions convincingly attributed to excess consumption of this trace mineral no tolerable upper level is set.
In some rare cases this picolinate nutrition supplement has been found to give severe skin allergy reactions.
In some cell culture studies excess of chromium picolinate has been associated with DNA damage. However in living organisms there is no evidence of DNA damage.
There are isolated reports of kidney failure on taking high doses of chromium picolinate nutrition supplements.
For persons with liver or kidney disease, mental ailments and bipolar disorder, cautious evaluation is necessary before administrating this nutrition supplement for diabetes.
The use of antacids containing calcium has been found to negatively affect the absorption of chromium picolinate in the gastrointestinal tract.
Though chromium picolinate is useful in treatment of diabetes along with other medications, it is advised that a medical professional be consulted before starting the therapy.
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