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New Chromium Supplement May Help Type 2 Diabetes

Onions are a source of chromium

For years, some studies have suggested chromium supplements may lower blood sugar levels in people who have type 2 diabetes. Those studies usually used chromium picolinate, but now new research indicates chromium dinicocysteinate is superior to both placebo and chromium picolinate inmanaging type 2 diabetes.

How effective is chromium in diabetes?

Chromium is an essential mineral that has a role in how insulin works with the body to regulate blood sugar (glucose) levels. When it comes to whether chromium supplements can help people with type 2 diabetes, however, study results have been mixed.

While some clinical studies have reported no benefit for people with type 2 diabetes when they took chromium supplements, others have claimed chromium supplements reduced blood sugar levels and the amount of insulin people needed to take. Now a new form of chromium supplement sheds a different light on the subject.

Investigators at Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center tested a new chromium supplement that contains chromium (400 micrograms elemental chromium) , niacin, and L-cysteine (chromium dinicocysteinate, or CDNC) in people with type 2 diabetes. Previously, animal studies have shown that a combination of chromium and cysteine supplementation can improve glucose metabolism.

One hundred patients participated in the study and 74 completed it. The patients were divided into three groups: 25 took placebo, 25 took chromium picolinate (400 micrograms elemental chromium), and 24 took chromium dinicocysteinate for three months. All the participants underwent testing for various diabetes indicators, such as vascular inflammation, insulin resistance, and oxidative stress.

At the end of three months, the patients in the CDNC group had about a 30% improvement in both fasting insulin levels and insulin resistance, as well as a significant decline in two other diabetes indicators (the inflammatory cytokine TNF-alpha and the oxidative stress marker protein carbonyl) compared with baseline.

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However, none of the patients in the chromium picolinate group showed statistically significant changes in the same factors. In addition, no study participants experienced significant changes in hemoglobin A1c or glucose levels.

Natural ways to manage type 2 diabetes
It's well established that careful attention to a balanced die, including the Mediterranean diet, t is important in managing type 2 diabetes, as is regular exercise and weight control. However, there are other things diabetics may want to consider to help with their blood sugar levels.

A yogurt beverage called doogh, for example, fortified with vitamin D, has been found to help people with type 2 diabetes by reducing inflammatory markers. Another beverage, coffee, has been found to contain compounds that inhibit activity that leads to type 2 diabetes.

You may want to consider having a handful of nuts along with the doogh or coffee. Research indicates that enjoying a portion of nuts each day could help control type 2 diabetes and prevent complications associated with the disease.

In the latest study on chromium, the investigators concluded that "results of this study indicate that the presence of the cysteinate molecule in chromium dinicocysteinate helps provide better protection against the oxidative stress and the activation of signal transduction pathways associated with the insulin resistance and vascular inflammation of type 2 diabetes."

The new chromium supplement that may help type 2 diabetes is being called the next-generation chromium. Individuals can ask their healthcare providers about the use of chromium supplements for management of type 2 diabetes.

Jain SK et al. Effect of chromium dinicocysteinate supplementation on circulating levels of insulin, TNF-a, oxidative stress, and insulin resistance in type 2 diabetic subjects: randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Molecular Nutrition & Food Research 2012; published online June 6, 2012

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