Many people take chromium to help regulate their blood sugar levels. Given its success with people who have type 2 diabetes, researchers at the Children's Hospital in Los Angeles are looking at whether chromium picolinate will improve blood sugar (glucose) levels and weight in 12- to 18-year-olds with type 1 diabetes who are overweight and whose diabetes is poorly controlled.
AN ESSENTIAL MINERAL
Chromium is an essential trace mineral that is vital to proper insulin function and carbohydrate, fat and protein metabolism. It has been studied extensively in type 2 diabetes in adults, where evidence suggests that it improves insulin sensitivity blood glucose control and cardiovascular risk factors. Now experts want to see if these benefits extend to youngsters with type 1 diabetes.
ABOUT THE STUDY
In the double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial at Children's Hospital in Los Angeles, 30 children with type 1 diabetes are taking 600 mcg daily of chromium picolinate for seven months. (An average dose for adults with type 2 diabetes is 1,000 mcg daily.) During this time, researchers will measure their glycosylated hemoglobin (HbA1c) levels (a measurement of long-term glycemic control), glucose levels, bodyweight, body mass index (BMI) and cardiac risk factors including lipid profiles and blood pressure.
With the results of the study, scientists hope to learn whether chromium picolinate can help children more effectively manage type 1 diabetes and improve their long-term health outlook and overall quality of life.
IMPROVING INSULIN FUNCTION AND GLUCOSE LEVELS
In type 2 diabetes, chromium picolinate has been shown to increase insulin sensitivity, helping keep blood sugar levels from rising excessively, explains Ryan Bradley, ND, a clinical faculty member at Bastyr University in Kenmore, Washington, and a former director of the Washington Association of Naturopathic Physicians. He adds that chromium picolinate is a well-tolerated supplement with few adverse effects. Other forms of chromium have not been as thoroughly investigated.
Researchers estimate that chromium picolinate also may prove to be helpful in type 1 diabetes, but for different reasons, notes Dr. Bradley. In this form of diabetes, the problem is not insulin resistance but insufficient production of insulin. He says that the theory in this case is that chromium picolinate will make insulin function more efficiently in the body, which will contribute to keeping blood sugar on an even keel.
Only time will tell whether chromium picolinate can benefit youngsters with type 1, diabetes—but it's well worth looking into a safe, simple and affordable supplement that can help control such a devastating disease. Speak to a trained professional for proper guidance.