Twenty-four volunteers, mean age 78, including eight mildly non-insulin-dependent diabetics, were randomly allocated to one of two groups and were fed (daily for 8 wk) 9 g of either chromium-rich brewers' yeast (experimental) or chromium-poor torula yeast (control). Before and after yeast supplementation, the serum glucose and insulin response to 100 g oral glucose was measured at 30 min intervals for 2 h. Fasting serum cholesterol, total lipids, and triglycerides were also determined. In the total experimental group (normals + diabetics) and in both the diabetic and nondiabetic experimental subgroups, glucose tolerance improved significantly and insulin output decreased after supplementation. Cholesterol and total lipids fell significantly after supplementation in the total experimental group. The cholesterol decrease was particularly marked in hypercholesterolemic subjects (cholesterol > 300 mg/dl). In the control group, no significant change in glucose tolerance, insulin, triglycerides, or total lipids was found. Cholesterol was significantly lowered in the nondiabetic but not in the diabetic group. Thus, chromium-rich brewers' yeast improved glucose tolerance and total lipids in elderly subjects, while chromium-poor torula yeast did not. An improvement in insulin sensitivity also occurred with brewers' yeast supplementation. This supports the thesis that elderly people may have a low level of chromium and that an effective source for chromjum repletion, such as brewers' yeast, may improve their carbohydrate tolerance and total lipids. The improvement in serum cholesterol in some control subjects, as well as in the total experimental group, also suggests the presence of a hypocholesterolemic factor other than chromium in both brewers' and torula yeast.

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