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Chromium is a trace element and supplementation may benefit diabetes only when deficiency has been established. It has been studied in both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Although the mechanism is unknown, the potential effect may be to potentiate effects of insulin. Studies have shown variable benefits for diabetes and hyperlipidemia. Trials that did not show benefit used different forms of chromium, such as chromium chloride or chromium-rich yeast. A landmark study done in China showed that a dose-dependent response occurred with maximal effects by four months. However, these patients may have different chromium intake compared to Americans. Moreover, these patients were thin, as compared to obese type 2 patients in the United States. Renal function should be monitored since renal toxicity has occurred. Various skin and psychiatric reactions have been noted. Potential additive hypoglycemia with insulin may occur.

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Laura Shane-McWhorter, PharmD, BCPS, FASCP, CDE, BC-ADM
November 24, 2001

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