is an essential trace mineral that has received much attention as a dietary supplement because good dietary sources are scarce and intake is generally low. Chromium is an essential nutrient, meaning your body cannot make chromium. Therefore, dietary intake is necessary. There is debate regarding optimal amounts and exactly how chromium works in the body. Some very elegant work in the last few years has revealed that chromium augments the actions of insulin, and this is consistent with studies showing that long-term use effectively controls blood sugar levels in people with intolerance to carbohydrates. Better control of blood sugar levels has several favorable effects, such as possible benefits on weight and fat loss, and improved lean body mass. In this recent study published in Diabetes Care, researchers gave diabetic patients either chromium (
1000 mcg/day) or a placebo in a randomized fashion. After 6 months, the placebo group has gained body weight and body fat, whereas
prevented this weight gain. In fact, the chromium supplementation group had a 3-fold lower change in belly fat than placebo. In addition, chromium led to better control of glucose levels and improved insulin sensitivity. The results provide strong evidence for favorable metabolic and body composition effects of
Martin J, Wang ZQ, Zhang XH, Wachtel D, Volaufova J, Matthews DE, Cefalu WT. Chromium picolinate supplementation attenuates body weight gain and increases insulin sensitivity in subjects with type 2 diabetes. Diabetes Care. 2006 Aug;29(8):1826-32.