By Maureen Williams, ND
Healthnotes Newswire (November 8, 2007)—People with diabetes can improve their health by eating well and staying physically active. New research finds that adding a supplement of chromium plus biotin has further benefits, including improved blood sugar control and reduced cholesterol levels.
The incidence of type 2 diabetes has risen dramatically in recent years, due in large part to higher rates of overweight and obesity. This trend has serious implications for public health, as people with diabetes are much more likely to develop cardiovascular disease, the leading cause of death in the developed world. Cholesterol and triglyceride levels tend to be higher and are more strongly correlated with heart disease in diabetics, and in those with heart disease, people with diabetes have a worse prognosis than those without.
Laying a good nutritional foundation is the most important aspect of treatment for people with diabetes: whole grains, fruits and vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds, and cold water fish have been shown to improve blood sugar control and reduce cardiac risk. Insulin resistance, an important cause of type 2 diabetes, can be reduced through regular exercise, and both chromium and biotin supplements have also been shown to decrease insulin resistance. In some cases, nutritional approaches and lifestyle changes are not enough, and insulin or other medications to lower blood glucose levels are needed.
The new study, published in the American Journal of the Medical Sciences, included 36 moderately obese people with diabetes who were not using insulin. They were randomly assigned to take 600 mcg of chromium in the form of chromium picolinate plus 2 mg of biotin per day or placebo for 30 days. A diet analysis at the beginning of the study found that vitamin and mineral intake was lower than recommended, and 50% of the people’s diets were rated poor and in need of improvement.
People who took chromium plus biotin improved their blood sugar control while those in the placebo group did not. In addition, total cholesterol, LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, and triglyceride levels all decreased in the supplement group, while HDL (“good”) cholesterol levels increased in those taking chromium plus biotin.
“Chromium has been commonly recommended to diabetics to help reduce blood sugar,” said Leon Hecht, a naturopathic doctor in New Hampshire who treats diabetes and lectures on nutritional approaches to diabetes management. “This study showed that chromium picolinate plus biotin can also reduce cholesterol levels. Given that heart disease is a major health concern for people with diabetes, this inexpensive and safe supplement makes good sense.”
Furthermore, he points out, “These findings show that people with diabetes—along with everyone else—are struggling against the cultural eating habits and media messages promoting fast food, junk food, and giant portions. More efforts are needed to help diabetics understand the critical nature of diet on the course of their disease, and establish healthy eating habits that are sustainable.”
(Am J Med Sci 2007;333:145–53)
Maureen Williams, ND, received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania and her Doctorate of Naturopathic Medicine from Bastyr University in Seattle, WA. She has a private practice in Quechee, VT, and does extensive work with traditional herbal medicine in Guatemala and Honduras. Dr. Williams is a regular contributor to Healthnotes Newswire.
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