Background: Chromium (Cr) potentiates the action of insulin in the cell and improves glucose tolerance after long-term supplementation.
Objective: We hypothesized that Cr may also have acute effects and might be beneficial in lowering the glycemic index of a meal.
Methods: We studied the effects of short-term Cr supplementation using a randomized crossover design. Thirteen apparently healthy, non-smoking young men of normal body mass index performed three trials each separated by one week. Test meals, providing 75 g of available carbohydrates, consisted of white bread with added Cr (400 or 800 microg as Cr picolinate) or placebo.
Results: After addition of 400 and 800 microg Cr incremental area under the curve (AUC) for capillary glucose was 23% (p = 0.053) and 20% (p = 0.054), respectively, lower than after the white bread meal. These differences reached significance if the subjects were divided into responders (n = 10) and non-responders (n = 3). For the responders AUC after 400 and 800 microg Cr was reduced by 36% and 30%, respectively (Placebo 175 +/- 22, Cr400 111 +/- 14 (p < 0.01), Cr800 122 +/- 15 mmol. min/L (p < 0.01)). Glycemia was unchanged after addition of Cr in the non-responders. Responders and non-responders differed significantly in their nutrient intake and eating pattern, and total serum iron concentration tended to be lower in the responder group (p = 0.07).
Conclusions: Acute chromium supplementation showed an effect on postprandial glucose metabolism in most but not all subjects. The response to Cr may be influenced by dietary patterns.