Chromium is an essential mineral that appears to have a beneficial role in the regulation of insulin action and its effects on carbohydrate, protein and lipid metabolism. Chromium is an important factor for enhancing insulin activity. Studies show that people with type 2 diabetes have lower blood levels of chromium than those without the disease. Insulin resistance is the common denominator in a cluster of cardiovascular disease risk factors. One out of every five Americans has metabolic syndrome. It affects 40% of people in their 60s and 70s. Insulin resistance, with or without the presence of metabolic syndrome, significantly increases the risk of cardiovascular disease. Insulin resistance is present in two serious health problems in women; polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) and gestational diabetes. Several studies have now demonstrated that chromium supplements enhance the metabolic action of insulin and lower some of the risk factors for cardiovascular disease, particularly in overweight individuals. Chromium picolinate, specifically, has been shown to reduce insulin resistance and to help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. Dietary chromium is poorly absorbed. Chromium levels decrease with age. Supplements containing 200-1,000 mcg chromium as chromium picolinate a day have been found to improve blood glucose control. Chromium picolinate is the most efficacious form of chromium supplementation. Numerous animal studies and human clinical trials have demonstrated that chromium picolinate supplements are safe.
A scientific review: the role of chromium in insulin resistance. Diabetes Educ. 2004 January