Chromium supplements benefit patients with type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease
Type 2 diabetes is spreading like a bushfire and even more people suffer from something called metabolic syndrome, a prediabetic stage characterized by insulin resistance, hypertension, elevated cholesterol, and apple-shaped figure caused by a blood sugar imbalance. Chromium supplementation helps improve insulin sensitivity and lowers weight and blood pressure, thereby reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease, according to a placebo-controlled study that is published in the journal Biological Trace Element Research. It is advisable to lower your carbohydrate intake and to choose a chromium supplement with good bioavailability.
Type 2 diabetes is a global health problem that is linked to cardiovascular disease, eye disorders, kidney ailments, and amputations. Many people suffer from an early stage of diabetes known as metabolic syndrome without being aware of it. This condition is characterized by insulin resistance that impairs the cellular uptake of glucose (sugar). It prevents the feeling of satiety and tends to increase your appetite for sweets and other fast carbohydrates that are not metabolized but stored as fat. Many overweight people have insulin resistance and unstable blood sugar, which tends to cause cravings for sweets and increases their risk of type 2 diabetes. The first priority should therefore be to gain control of your blood sugar.
Chromium’s effect on insulin and blood sugar level
After we ingest carbohydrates in solid or fluid form, they are broken down into blood sugar (glucose) that is absorbed in the bloodstream. The pancreas then starts to produce insulin, the hormone that “unlocks” the cells and allows glucose to enter. Insulin works much better if it is attached to a special chromium compound that enables insulin to carry much more glucose into the cells. Figuratively speaking, it is like getting better mileage with your car.
Chromium is therefore essential for optimal glucose uptake, stable blood sugar levels, prolonged satiety, and for suppressing the cravings for unhealthy calories.
The new study reveals chromium’s positive impact on blood sugar and the cardiovascular system
It is commonly known that chromium is important for macronutrient metabolism and for maintaining normal blood sugar levels. Several clinical studies have demonstrated chromium’s effect on the prevention and treatment of insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. However, there have not been any specific studies of chromium’s impact on cardiovascular diseases in type 2 diabetics.
The scientists behind the new, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study therefore set out to investigate how chromium supplementation would affect patients with type 2 diabetes, who also had calcification of their coronary arteries. This condition, also known as coronary occlusion, is a leading cause of death.
A total of 64 type 2 diabetics took part in the study. They were divided into two groups, where one group received 200 micrograms of chromium daily and the other group got placebo. The study lasted 12 weeks and revealed the following improvements in the chromium-supplemented patients:
- Improved insulin sensitivity
- Reduced levels of fasting glucose (a sign of improved glucose uptake in cells)
- Lower blood pressure
- Reduced body weight
- Lower levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), which is an inflammation marker
- Lower levels of malondialdehyde (MDA), a marker of oxidative stress
- Increased antioxidant capacity
The diabetes patients that took chromium for 12 weeks generally showed positive change with regard to insulin sensitivity, weight, blood pressure, inflammatory status, and antioxidant capacity, all of which are improvements that lower the risk of atherosclerosis, cardiovascular disease, and early death. The same was not the case with the diabetics on placebo.
The study is published in Biological Trace Element Research.
Did you know that elevated cholesterol is often caused by a blood sugar imbalance and insulin resistance?
Chromium sources and things that can cause chromium deficiency
Chromium is found in various foods such as almonds, beans, nuts, fish, meat, eggs, and brewer’s yeast. Crops often lack chromium because there is very little chromium in the soil and modern refined diets only contribute with very little chromium, as it is.
Eating too many carbohydrates, especially the refined types, also causes blood sugar levels to fluctuate. When glucose levels drop too fast, around 20 percent of the chromium content in blood is excreted in the urine. That way, the body quickly becomes chromium-depleted. Stimulant abuse, stress, and prolonged dieting may also lead to chromium deficiency.
Supplementing with chromium yeast has the best effect on blood sugar levels
The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has concluded that supplements with chromium yeast are up to ten times more bioavailable than synthetically manufactured sources like chromium picolinate or chromium chloride.
Always study the label on your chromium supplement
Chromium yeast has up to 10 times better absorption than chromium picolinate and chromium chloride. You should always read the label before you make your purchase.
IMPORTANT: Dietary guidelines for diabetics have been misleading for decades
A Danish study from 2019 revealed that it is best to eat a diet that does not contain too much carbohydrate. The new message to diabetics is supported by a number of international studies that we have written about on this web site. Diabetics and people with sensitive blood sugar should therefore strive to eat a healthy diet with less carbohydrate, more protein, and healthy fats. Also, they should make sure to get enough chromium and other nutrients one way or another.
Always read the food labels. Many foods have a high sugar content, and the many different names for sugar can be confusing.
Alireza Farrokhian et al. The Influences of Chromium Supplementation on Metabolic Status in Patients with Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus and Coronary Heart Disease. Biological Trace Element Research 2020
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
Bispebjerg Hospital. Færre kulhydrater forbedrer type-2 diabetikeres evne til at regulere blodsukkeret. Nyhedsbrev 10. august 2019
Mads J Skytte et al. A Carbohydrate-reduced high-protein diet improves HbA1c and liver fat content in weight stable participants with type 2 diabetes: a randomized trial. Diabetologica. First online 23 July 2019
Pernille Lund. Sådan får du styr på dit blodsukker og din vægt. Ny videnskab 2013
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