Scientists Develop More Potent Chromium Supplement
By Judy McBride
July 25, 2001
Numerous studies have demonstrated that
taking extra chromium daily in the form of a supplement may improve glucose
tolerance in people whose blood sugar levels range from slightly elevated to
Now, the U.S. Department of Agriculture
is seeking a patent on a new chromium formulation that people absorb into the
bloodstream better than anything on the market.
The technology is now available for licensing.
Typical Western diets barely supply the new adequate intake (AI) for
chromium--35 micrograms (mcg) daily for men, 25 mcg for women. And high sugar
intakes, trauma and hard exercise can increase chromium excretion. Because the
mineral improves insulin function, a shortfall can impair the cells
ability to remove excess sugar from the blood stream.
The new formulation, developed by scientists with USDAs
Agricultural Research Service, is a
complex of chromium and the amino acid histidine. It is absorbed at least 50
percent better than chromium picolinate, according to its developer, Richard
Anderson, with ARS Beltsville
(Md.) Human Nutrition Research Center.
The picolinate formulation, also patented by ARS nearly three decades ago,
is the best absorbed and most popular chromium supplement sold today. Histidine
(not to be confused with histamine) is one of the essential amino
acids because the body doesnt manufacture it. It is found in all
meats and protein-containing foods.
In tests at the Beltsville center, men and women absorbed an average 3.1 mcg
of chromium from the chromium-histidine complex, compared with 1.8 mcg from
chromium picolinate, 0.4 mcg from chromium chloride and 0.2 mcg from chromium
polynicotinate. The latter two formulations are also popular supplements.
In studies worldwide, supplemental chromium has improved blood sugar levels
or other symptoms in people with glucose intolerance, type 1 and type 2
diabetes, steroid- induced diabetes, and gestational diabetes. However,
chromium supplements wont help people who have high blood sugar in spite
of getting adequate dietary chromium.
ARS is USDAs chief scientific research agency.