Supplements of niacin-bound chromium(III) may reduce blood pressure and offer knock-on benefits for cardiovascular health, according to new research.
Blood pressure increases in rats fed diets with excessive sugar were eased when the animals were also supplemented with niacin-bound chromium(III) (ChromeMate, InterHealth) at the five ppm level, according to results published in the Journal of Inorganic Biochemistry.
If the study can be repeated in additional studies, particularly human trials, it could see the chromium ingredient establishing itself in the market for potential nutritional approaches to reducing blood pressure.
In the UK alone there are an estimated 10m people with hypertension, defined as having blood pressure higher than 140/90 mmHg. The condition is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease (CVD), which causes almost 50 per cent of deaths in Europe, and is reported to cost the EU economy an estimated €169bn ($202bn) per year.
Results of the new study indicate that niacin-bound chromium III (NBC) may act as an ACE inhibitor, which work by inhibiting the conversion of angiotensin I to the potent vasoconstrictor, angiotensin II, thereby improving blood flow and blood pressure.
ACE inhibitors made by drug companies have been found to be beneficial in treating hypertension, particularly in patients with type-1 or type-2 diabetes, and also appear to provide good cardiovascular and renal protection. Pharmaceutical ACE-inhibitors do however have side effects.
"The rennin-angiotensin system (RAS) appears to play a significant role in the development of sugar-induced hypertension; and NBC may overcome this perturbation by acting as an ACE inhibitor and lowering the circulating levels of angiotensin-2," wrote the researchers from Michigan State University, Creighton University Medical Center, and Georgetown University Medical Center.
The first stage in the study was to confirm that RAS did play an important role in the development of hypertension. The RAS was disturbed by feeding 40 mature male and female Sprague-Dawley rats a diet with excessive sugar (30 per cent sucrose).
Lead author Nicholas Perricone reports that blood pressure increases were indeed observed and manifested by increases in levels of circulating angiotensin-2.
When 13 of the animals were then orally administered with NBC, the increases in systolic blood pressure were found to be reversed, with decreases back to normal levels.
Decreases in blood levels of ACE activity and levels of circulating angiotensin-2 were observed after NBC supplementation, added the researchers.
Despite these preliminary promising results, further research is clearly needed to further substantiate the potential role of NBC to lower blood pressure and subsequently reduce the risk of CVD in humans.
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Commenting on the results of the study, Paul Dijkstra, CEO of InterHealth, stated that the research provides "important insight into how ChromeMate works to reduce blood pressure, a significant indicator of cardiovascular health.
"These findings are particularly important to those with diabetes since cardiovascular disease is so closely associated with diabetes. ChromeMate has also been shown to be highly effective in helping to maintain healthy blood sugar levels and body weight, so it represents a triple benefit in the fight against diabetes," he added.
Source: Journal of Inorganic Biochemistry
Published online ahead of press 23 February 2008, doi: 10.1016/j.jinorgbio.2008.02.004
"Blood pressure lowering effects of niacin-bound chromium(III) (NBC) in sucrose-fed rats: Renin--angiotensin system"
Authors: N.V. Perricone, D. Bagchi, B. Echard, H.G. Preuss