Studies have demonstrated that taking extra chromium daily in the form of a supplement may improve glucose tolerance in people whose blood sugar levels range from slightly elevated to full-blown diabetes.
Scientists at the US Agricultural Research Service (ARS) report this week that they have developed a new chromium formulation that people can absorb into the bloodstream better than anything on the market, they claim.
The new formulation is a complex of chromium and the amino acid histidine. According to the ARS it is absorbed at least 50 per cent better than chromium picolinate - which was patented by other ARS scientists nearly three decades ago and is the best absorbed and most popular chromium supplement sold today. Histidine (not to be confused with histamine) is one of the "essential" amino acids because the body doesn't manufacture it. It is found in all meats and protein-containing foods.
Typical Western diets barely supply the new adequate intake (AI) for chromium--35 micrograms (mcg) daily for men, 25 mcg for women. And high sugar intakes, trauma and hard exercise can increase chromium excretion. Because the mineral improves insulin function, a shortfall can impair the cells' ability to remove excess sugar from the blood stream. However, chromium supplements will not help people who have high blood sugar in spite of getting adequate dietary chromium from good sources like liver, whole grains, nuts and meat.
In tests, men and women absorbed an average 3.1 mcg of chromium from the chromium-histidine complex, compared with 1.8 mcg from chromium picolinate, 0.4 mcg from chromium chloride and 0.2 mcg from chromium polynicotinate. The latter two formulations are also popular supplements. The U.S. Department of Agriculture is seeking a patent on the chromium-histidine formulation, and the technology is available for licensing.