Objectives: To investigate chromium status of the adult population in the western region of Saudi Arabia and the possibility of using serum chromium status measurement as indicator of this status.
Methods: The effect of chromium supplement on glucose tolerance and lipid profile was studied in 44 normal, free living adults. 200mg chromium/day as CrCL3 or a placebo was given in a double blind cross-over study, with 8 weeks experimental periods. Fasting, 1 hour and 2 hour post glucose challenge (75 g of glucose) glucose, serum fructosamine, total cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein-cholesterol, triglycerides, chromium and dietary intakes were estimated at the beginning and the end of each stage.
Results: Mean serum chromium increased significantly after supplement (P<.001) indicating proper absorption of the element. Supplement did not effect the total cholesterol, however, the mean high-density lipoprotein-cholesterol level was significantly increased (P<.001), the mean triglycerides levels significantly decreased (P<.001), and the mean fructosamine level significantly decreased (P<.05). In addition, chromium supplement effected 1 hour and 2 hour post glucose challenge glucose levels in subgroups of subjects with 2 hour glucose level > 10% above or below fasting level and significantly differing to it (P<.05 in both cases), by decreasing or increasing them significantly (P<.05 in all cases) so that the 2 hour mean became not significantly different to the fasting mean. Since no significant changes in weight, dietary intake or habits were found, and placebo had no effect, all noted biochemical changes were attributed to chromium.
Conclusion: Improved glucose control, and lipid profile following chromium supplement suggests the presence of low chromium status in the studied population. However, serum chromium could not be recommended for use as an indicator of chromium status as subjects with widely varying levels responded favorably to the chromium supplement.