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ARS Develops a New Chromium Complex

By Rosalie Marion Bliss
January 20, 2004

Scientists with the Agricultural Research Service have developed a new, stable and absorbable form of the element chromium. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is issuing a patent to the U.S. Department of Agriculture on the complex. ARS is the USDA's chief scientific research agency.

The new compound was developed by chemist Richard Anderson and others at the ARS Beltsville (Md.) Human Nutrition Research Center (BHNRC). The compound is a water-soluble complex of natural chromium mixed with the essential amino acid histidine, which helps enhance the mineral's absorption within the body.

Scientists have long observed that chromium is involved in the transfer of sugar from the blood to muscles and helps to maintain normal blood sugar levels. Several dietary and lifestyle factors influence chromium blood levels. For example, vitamin C increases chromium absorption, while refined sugars and intense exercise increase its elimination.

Significantly, chromium supplementation helps those who are chromium deficient. At this time, there is no blood test to distinguish adequate or deficient chromium levels. Scientists at the BHNRC are now developing tests to assess people's chromium levels and are evaluating the interaction between levels of chromium and sugar circulating in blood.

The ARS Office of Technology Transfer is seeking U.S. companies interested in obtaining a license on the new compound and conducting clinical trials associated with product safety and proper dosage.

ARS-OTT licensing information can be found on the World Wide Web at: