Chromium picolinate significantly reduces weight gain associated with common antidiabetic medication, according to a study released today. Researchers at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center (PBRC), who conducted the study, also found that chromium significantly improved blood sugar control and insulin sensitivity.
These findings are important because more than 80 percent of people with type 2 diabetes are also overweight and chromium picolinate is easily available as a nutrition therapy in retail stores. People with diabetes who are overweight face an increased risk of disease-related complications including cardiovascular disease. PBRC researchers presented their findings at the American Diabetes Association (ADA) 65th Annual Scientific Sessions in San Diego, CA.
The randomized, double blind, placebo-controlled study, which was performed in collaboration with the University of Vermont College of Medicine, was designed to examine the effect of adding daily chromium picolinate supplementation to regimens consisting of oral antidiabetic medications, i.e. sulfonylureas. Specifically, a sulfonylurea, a commonly prescribed first line of treatment for type 2 diabetes, was given to 27 subjects initially for a three-month period. The subjects were then randomized to continue taking the medication alone for 6 additional months with or without chromium picolinate. The study participants who took 1,000 mcg of Chromax chromium picolinate in combination with the antidiabetic medication experienced significantly lower body fat accumulation (0.12%) than the group taking medication and placebo (1.1%), particularly in the abdomen area. The study also found those taking chromium gained less weight (0.8kg versus 2.2 kg) and experienced an increase in fat free mass, when compared with the placebo group.
"It would be very advantageous, from a clinical perspective, to have a regimen to improve glucose levels and minimize weight gain in our subjects with diabetes associated with the chronic administration of prescription medications. The impact of chromium picolinate on weight gain, particularly weight gain in the abdominal area, is important as research shows that increased abdominal fat is associated with a greater risk for health complications, such as cardiovascular disease," said study investigator, William Cefalu, MD, chief of the Center's Division of Nutrition and Chronic Diseases.
The study also found that chromium picolinate taken in combination with antidiabetic medication significantly improved both insulin sensitivity (assessed with hyperinsulinemic euglycemic clamps using stable isotopes) and glucose control. Blood sugar levels of study participants taking chromium picolinate in combination with antidiabetic medication dropped significantly (0.7%-greater point drop in glycated hemoglobin (HbA1C), a marker for long term blood sugar control) compared to the placebo group. Additionally, subjects taking chromium picolinate had significant increases in glucose disposal.
"The results add to a growing body of evidence suggesting that chromium may serve as a safe and effective adjunct therapy to medication in helping to better manage blood glucose levels in people with type 2 diabetes," said Dr. Cefalu.
The Pennington Biomedical Research Center is a campus of the Louisiana State University System and conducts both clinical and basic research. It is the largest academically based nutrition research center in the world, with the greatest number of obesity researchers on faculty. The Center's nearly 600 employees occupy several buildings on the 234-acre campus.