Chromium is an essential mineral that is often deficient in the diet because few rich food sources exist. The exact role of chromium has eluded researchers, but recent evidence indicates that chromium plays an important role in insulin signaling. Insulin resistance is a prevalent condition that contributes to obesity and several other metabolic problems that predispose people to diabetes and heart disease. Therefore anything that improves insulin resistance (like exercise) is generally viewed as health promoting. A recent study published in the most recent issue of The Journal of Nutrition examined the effects of chromium on a rat model that is obese and insulin resistant. The results showed clearly that rats given additional chromium in their drinking water had significantly improved glucose disposal rates that were associated with improved insulin stimulated signaling in skeletal muscle. In other words, the extra chromium improved the insulin resistance normally present in these animals. The findings are consistent with several studies that have showed improved glucose control in people with glucose intolerance and insulin resistance. Since glycogen resynthesis and protein synthesis are regulated by insulin signaling, adding extra chromium could stimulate these processes in individuals who are insulin resistant.

Wang ZQ, Zhang XH, Russell JC, Hulver M, Cefalu WT. Chromium Picolinate Enhances Skeletal Muscle Cellular Insulin Signaling In Vivo in Obese, Insulin-Resistant JCR:LA-cp Rats. J Nutr. 2006 Feb;136(2):415-20.