A compound called “glucose tolerance factor” (GTF), of which chromium is a primary component, facilitates the action of insulin. Chromium’s main function in this respect is to increase the sensitivity of cell receptors to insulin, thereby increasing the efficiency of blood glucose metabolism. In fact, a study involving patients taking chromium observed that the number of insulin receptors increased, presumably as a result of the supplementation. Considering the above information, it is not surprising that chromium has a significant role to play in controlling high blood sugar levels.
Zinc and Vitamin B6
Zinc is required for the formation of insulin as well as its secretion and utilisation.
Diabetics generally excrete too much zinc in their urine, making supplementation more important. Vitamin B6, as well as being important in insulin production, may be
helpful in reducing the potential side effects of excess sugar in the blood. Studies have
shown B6 to have a protective effect against diabetic neuropathy, nerve damage caused by elevated blood sugar levels.
Required for glucose metabolism and helps to modulate the action of insulin in relation to blood sugar. Diabetics are often found to be magnesium deficient. Magnesium may help to prevent some of the cardiovascular effects of elevated sugar in the blood such as retinopathy and heart disease.
Alpha Lipoic Acid
Free radical damage and a process called glycation are perhaps the two major factors in the ageing process and body degeneration in general. Glycation occurs when proteins react with excess glucose in the blood causing damage to vascular tissues. Alpha lipoic
acid has been shown to have potent antioxidant properties in addition to recycling
other antioxidant nutrients and has significant blood sugar lowering effects. These
actions are thought to combine in providing protection against glycation, which is
important whenever blood sugar is consistently elevated such as in diabetes.
NOTE: Alpha lipoic acid may potentiate the action of insulin. Consult a Doctor before
concurrent use of insulin and alpha lipoic acid.
Fenugreek may be helpful in increasing the sensitivity of the cells to insulin, a factor
that could be of interest in those with insulin resistance. In one study patients with type II diabetes given fenugreek had improved blood sugar readings despite a fall in insulin output, suggesting greater insulin sensitivity.
Cinnamon may help people with type II (adult onset) diabetes improve their ability to
respond to insulin, thus normalising their blood sugar levels. Both test tube and animal studies have shown that compounds in cinnamon not only stimulate insulin receptors, but also inhibit an enzyme that inactivates them, thus significantly increasing the cells’ ability to use glucose.
Syndrome X Summary
Nutrient/Herb Typical intake range
Chromium (as picolinate or polynicotinate) (1)
Alpha lipoic acid (1)
Fenugreek extract 4:1 (1,5)
200 – 600ug per day
1 5 – 30mg per day
200 – 400mg per day
60 – 1 20mg per day
1 -4g raw bark daily
1 50 – 450mg per day
Nuts and seeds
Choose foods with a low glycaemic load
Minimise impact of stress
1. Concurrent use with anti-diabetic medication under medical supervision only.
2. May cause nausea on an empty stomach. High doses (100mg per day) may suppress the immune system. Ensure sufficient copper and iron intake with zinc supplementation.
3. High doses may cause loose stools. Those taking heart medication should use magnesium under supervision from a Doctor.
4. Do not take during pregnancy or lactation. Caution with blood-thinning medication.
5. May inhibit absorption of medicinal drugs. Concurrent use with anticoagulant medication under supervision only.