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Depression Health Center

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Chromium May Cut Carb Craving in Depression

Could Also Cut Risk of Diabetes, Researchers Say

Depression, Diabetes, and Carb Craving continued...

When the researchers looked at all the patients -- those with and without carb cravings -- they found no overall depression benefit from the chromium supplement compared to placebo. It did, however, cut carb craving.

But chromium did improve depression in certain patients. Researchers found that atypical depression patients who also had carb cravings improved with chromium compared to placebo.

"In that group with high carb craving -- a third of the patients -- we had a very significant benefit from chromium picolinate," Docherty says. "Compared with placebo, it had a 2-to-1 advantage in reducing depression overall."

Maybe, Docherty speculates, this small study has found the missing link between depression and diabetes.

"This could turn out to be a very big benefit if the relationship between depression and diabetes is mediated by carb craving," he says. "It might be that if you eat more carbs, you tax your insulin system more and are at greater risk for diabetes. This treatment chromium picolinate may lower high risk of diabetes in people with depression. That would be terrific."

Chromium Picolinate for Carb Craving?

It is not clear that chromium picolinate -- or anything else -- can help normal people eat fewer carbs, says Leslie Bonci, MPH, RD, director of sports nutrition at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. She is also a nutritional consultant for several sports teams and the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre.

"What is carb craving? It would be really difficult to define that," Bonci tells WebMD. "Yes, there are some people who are going to gear more toward the pasta and potatoes than steak and tofu, but that doesn't have a clinical definition. ... It would be a stretch to say that across the board, carb cravers should go with chromium. Bodies aren't that smart. Psychological and environmental factors do a lot more to determine the cravings we have."

On the other hand, Bonci says, the findings regarding insulin sensitivity and chromium picolinate are "exciting." Moreover, she explains, many people do get too little chromium in their diets.

Huge exposures to chromium can be dangerous. But Bonci notes that people who take chromium supplements don't get harmful side effects.

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