Lessons From Micronutrient Studies In Patients With Glucose Intolerance and Diabetes Mellitus: Chromium and Vanadium

Henry C. Lukaski, Ph.D.


Public interest in the use of supplemental vanadium and chromium to ameliorate the symptoms of diabetes is burgeoning because of their putative action as insulin potentiating agents. Since 1980, evidence has accumulated to show that vanadium salts, vanadyl and vanadate, mimic insulin action in isolated cell systems and produce glucose-lowering effects when given to animals with diabetes. Supplementation of diabetic patients with vanadium salts in doses ranging from 25 to 100 mg of elemental vanadium daily for up to six weeks elicits partial normalization of glucose metabolic irregularities. Also, chromium supplements, specifically chromium picolinate, in amounts of 400 to 1000 mcg/d ameliorate glucose metabolic abnormalities in some patients with insulin resistance or type 2 diabetes. The doses of supplemental vanadium far exceed the apparent human vanadium requirement (10 mcg/d) whereas the levels of chromium supplementation surpass the safe and adequate intake level for chromium (50 to 200 mcg/d). Adverse effects of ingestion of these mineral supplements at these doses have been reported. Thus, doses of these minerals that elicit beneficial effects are pharmacologic and not nutritional.



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