Harvard Study Links Low Chromium Levels to Increased Risk of Heart Disease In Men with Diabetes

Purchase, N.Y., September 20, 2004 – Nutrition 21, Inc. (Nasdaq: NXXI) – A new study found that lower levels of chromium in toenails were associated with a significantly higher incidence of cardiovascular disease in men with type 2 diabetes compared with healthy control subjects with higher levels of chromium. The study, a retrospective analysis from the Harvard Health Professionals Follow-up Study (1986-1994), showed that men with diabetes and cardiovascular disease had 46% less chromium in their toenails than healthy subjects. The study was published in the September 2004 issue of Diabetes Care.

The study design assessed chromium levels in toenail samples of 1,254 males ages 40-75 from the Harvard Health Professional Follow-up Study, a prospective cohort study of 51,529 men evaluating the role of diet in chronic diseases. The mean toenail level of chromium in healthy men was 0.71 ppm (parts per million), in diabetics 0.61 ppm, and in men with both diabetes and cardiovascular disease 0.52 ppm.

The study was led by Drs. Swapnil Rajpathak and Frank Hu at Harvard School of Public Health in Boston and is the third and the largest study to evaluate the content of chromium in the body using toenail samples. “The risk of cardiovascular disease is substantially higher in individuals with diabetes than in those without diabetes,” said Dr. Rajpathak. "Chromium may improve insulin sensitivity, which can modify the risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease."

According to a National Institutes of Health 1999 Report, developing a reliable analytical method of accurately measuring body chromium levels in humans is a technical challenge that has confounded scientists for years. Toenails may prove to be a good measure of chromium stores, since they show an accumulation of mineral status over time, offering revealing clues into dietary intake, deficiencies and disease links.
Chromium is an essential mineral critical to proper insulin function and necessary for carbohydrate, fat and protein metabolism. Because the body does not make this mineral naturally, chromium must be obtained through food, such as brewer’s yeast, shredded wheat, leafy green vegetables and organ meats or nutritional supplements.

A number of clinical studies have shown that nutritional supplementation with chromium, as chromium picolinate helps reduce insulin resistance, and improve blood sugar, triglyceride and cholesterol levels -- all of which are associated with cardiovascular disease or type 2 diabetes. “The study, one of the first to measure long-term chromium status in a sizable population and suggests that low chromium levels may increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes, stated James Komorowski, MS, VP Technical Services and Scientific Affairs, Nutrition 21, Inc. “Our ongoing clinical research program demonstrates that these at risk populations may benefit from chromium supplementation.”

Heart disease is the number one cause of death and the United States and there are 18.2 million people in the United States who have diabetes. Complications of type 2 diabetes include heart disease and stroke, blindness, nerve damage, kidney damage and foot complications resulting from poor blood flow.

About Nutrition 21
Nutrition 21 is a nutritional bioscience company and the maker of chromium-based nutritional supplements whose health benefits are substantiated by clinical research. The company markets Chromax® chromium picolinate, the leading brand of nutritional chromium, and Diachrome™, a nutritional supplement for people with type 2 diabetes. Diachrome is composed of chromium picolinate and biotin, and is available through diabetes educators. Nutrition 21 holds 35 patents for nutrition products, 22 for chromium compounds and their uses. More information is available at www.nutrition21.com

Disclosure note: The Harvard study was primarily funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH); Nutrition 21 provided an unrestricted grant to the Harvard School of Public Health.

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Nutrition 21, Inc.

Stacey Antine
Telephone: 914-701-4567

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