Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Diabetes Health Center

Font Size

Can a Mix of Chromium and Biotin Help Diabetics Control Blood Sugar?

By
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Gary D. Vogin, MD

Oct. 15, 2001 -- Chromium picolinate has been touted for years -- as an energy booster, and as a nutritional supplement to help people with type 2 diabetes keep their blood sugar levels under control. A new study suggests adding a vitamin called biotin to chromium picolinate may be even more helpful, although one expert is not convinced.

Among the suggested benefits: "significantly better" blood sugars, better cholesterol levels, as well as somewhat less fatigue and depression in people with type 2 diabetes, says study author James Komorowski, MS, director of research and development at Nutrition 21 in Purchase, NY.

Nutrition 21, the company that sponsored the study, also is the leading developer and marketer of chromium-based nutritional supplements.

Chromium, found primarily in organ meats and whole grains, is an essential mineral the body needs to process carbohydrates, fats, and proteins, Komorowski tells WebMD. Many Americans get less chromium than they need, and while some multivitamins contain the mineral, it's typically in very low doses. Recently, the RDA for a healthy adult was set at 35 to 40 mcg.

"Chromium is necessary for glucose metabolism, yet it is very poorly absorbed if you get it from food in the diet or vitamin supplements," says Komorowski. Only 0.5% of chromium fluoride -- a common form of chromium -- is absorbed into the bloodstream. Chromium picolinate is absorbed five to 10 times better, he tells WebMD.

People with diabetes may have much lower chromium levels in their bodies than others, Komorowski says. His company has published 11 clinical studies showing that giving diabetics extra chromium in the form of chromium picolinate helps them control blood sugar levels.

This study involved 34 people with type 2 diabetes. For 12 weeks, all got two daily servings of a nutritional shake with "moderate amounts of carbohydrates," similar to drinks marketed to diabetics, he says. During the study, participants were randomly assigned to receive either a shake containing the chromium picolinate-biotin mix or a plain shake used for comparison. Participants did not know which type of shake they were receiving.

In those who got the regular shake, a measure of blood sugar control called hemoglobin A1c "got dramatically worse," he says. However, those receiving chromium-biotin had levels that "didn't change a lot, even though they were getting that additional carbohydrate load," Komorowski tells WebMD.

A1c levels in the regular-shake group increased from 7.7% at the start to 8.8%. Those receiving the test shake did not have significant changes in their blood sugar (7.5% at the start vs. 7.8% at study's end). Fasting blood glucose levels rose from 176 to 199 mg/dl in the control group; in the treatment group, they rose from 153 to 161.

Is This Normal? Get the Facts Fast!

Check Your Blood Sugar Level Now
What type of diabetes do you have?
Your gender:

Get the latest Diabetes newsletter delivered to your inbox!


or
Answer:
Low
0-69
Normal
70-130
High
131+

Your level is currently

If the level is below 70 or you are experiencing symptoms such as shaking, sweating or difficulty thinking, you will need to raise the number immediately. A quick solution is to eat a few pieces of hard candy or 1 tablespoon of sugar or honey. Recheck your numbers again in 15 minutes to see if the number has gone up. If not, repeat the steps above or call your doctor.

People who experience hypoglycemia several times in a week should call their health care provider. It's important to monitor your levels each day so you can make sure your numbers are within the range. If you are pregnant always consult with your health care provider.

Congratulations on taking steps to manage your health.

However, it's important to continue to track your numbers so that you can make lifestyle changes if needed. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

Your level is high if this reading was taken before eating. Aim for 70-130 before meals and less than 180 two hours after meals.

Even if your number is high, it's not too late for you to take control of your health and lower your blood sugar.

One of the first steps is to monitor your levels each day. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

Did You Know Your Lifestyle Choices
Affect Your Blood Sugar?

Use the Blood Glucose Tracker to monitor
how well you manage your blood sugar over time.

Get Started

This tool is not intended for women who are pregnant.

Start Over

Step:  of 

Today on WebMD

Diabetic tools
Symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, and more.
woman flexing muscles
10 strength training exercises.
 
Blood sugar test
12 practical tips.
Tom Hanks
Stars living with type 1 or type 2.
 
Woman serving fast food from window
Video
Can Vinegar Treat Diabetes
Video
 
Middle aged person
Tool
are battery operated toothbrushes really better
Video
 

Prediabetes How to Prevent Type 2 Diabetes
Article
type 2 diabetes
Slideshow
 
food fitness planner
Tool
Are You at Risk for Dupuytrens Contracture
Article