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Chromium Picolinate Intake and Risk of Type 2 Diabetes: an Evidence-Based Review by the United States Food and Drug Administration

Paula R. Trumbo PhD, Kathleen C. Ellwood PhD
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1753-4887.2006.tb00220.x 357-363 First published online: 1 August 2006

Abstract

The labeling of both health claims that meet significant scientific agreement (SSA) and qualified health claims on conventional foods and dietary supplements requires pre-market approval by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Approval by the FDA involves, in part, a thorough review of the scientific evidence to support an SSA or a qualified health claim. This article discusses FDA's evidence-based review of the scientific evidence on the role of chromium picolinate supplements in reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes. Based on this evidence-based review, FDA issued a letter of enforcement discretion for one qualified health claim on chromium picolinate and risk of insulin resistance, a surrogate endpoint for type 2 diabetes. The agency concluded that the relationship between chromium picolinate intake and insulin resistance is highly uncertain.

SUMMARY

In summary (Table 1), there was one intervention study that showed a beneficial effect of chromium picolinate intake on risk of insulin resistance. One other intervention study that provided chromium chloride showed no beneficial effect on insulin resistance. None of the five intervention studies showed a statistically significant beneficial effect of chromium picolinate on FBS and/or OGTT. Furthermore, none of the 10 intervention studies using other forms of chromium showed a beneficial effect of on FBS or OGTT in individuals with normal glucose tolerance.

Based on FDA's evidence-based review, the agency concluded that there is very limited credible evidence for a qualified health claim for chromium picolinate and reduced risk of insulin resistance, and therefore reduced risk of type 2 diabetes. The findings of Cefalu et al. have not been replicated, and replication of scientific findings is important to substantiate results. For these reasons, FDA concluded that the existence of a relationship between chromium picolinate intake and reduced risk of either insulin resistance or type 2 diabetes is highly uncertain.

On August 25, 2005, FDA issued a letter of enforcement discretion for the labeling of dietary supplements with the following qualified health claim: “One small study suggests that chromium picolinate may reduce the risk of insulin resistance, and therefore possibly may reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes. FDA concludes, however, that the existence of such a relationship between chromium picolinate and either insulin resistance or type 2 diabetes is highly uncertain.” The agency concluded that there was no credible evidence to suggest that chromium picolinate intake may reduce the risk of elevated blood glucose levels.

  • chromium picolinate
  • diabetes
  • health claims
  • type 2 diabetes

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