Chromium enables the body to control the amount of sugar it absorbs. This provides stable energy and assists in balancing blood glucose levels. Research has shown chromium can potentially halt mutations in the cells leading to chronic diseases by protecting the DNA chromosomes from becoming damaged. Chromium is also associated with better cardiovascular health and longevity. This is due to the ability to help metabolize fats, nutrients, carbohydrates, and proteins.
What is Chromium?
Chromium is a brittle, hard metal and is classified as a chemical element. The body requires small amounts of this trace mineral to function properly. A lot of research has been conducted regarding promoting health through chromium due to the benefits. This includes controlling diabetes and blood sugar, weight management, heart health, and brain health.
The National Institute of Health has revealed there are two different types of chromium. The first is chromium 3+ or trivalent. This is found in foods and is biologically active. The second is chromium 6+ or hexavalent. This is toxic and not safe for humans. This type is only for industrial applications. Chromium 6 is classified as a chemical and may cause cancer. This chemical has infiltrated the water supply for in excess of two-thirds of Americans.
The Location of Chromium
Chromium can be founded in numerous whole foods such as whole grains, vegetables, certain meats, potatoes and brewer’s yeast. Chromium generally enters the body through food consumption. It is stored in the rocks and soil that penetrate the crops. There are also smaller amounts in drinking water. Using stainless steel cookware and drinking tap water also supplies the body with some chromium.
The Amount of Chromium Necessary for Health
The USDA has stated chromium deficiencies within the United States are not common. The majority of developed nations do not experience deficiencies because enough chromium is consumed by the people daily. This meets or exceeds the amount necessary to prevent a deficiency and support health. One of the main reasons Americans get enough chromium is a diet high in refined carbohydrates such as cereals and wheat bread.
According to the USDA, the average adult female in the United States consumes roughly 23 to 29 micrograms from food every day. The average consumption for men is 39 to 54 micrograms each day. Infants receive their daily intake through a formula or breast milk. Healthy breast milk contains approximately 0.24 micrograms of chromium in each quart. This is about the recommended daily amount.
There are medical researchers who feel a deficiency in chromium is more prevalent in individuals not responding correctly to insulin. This encompasses a lot of the population either consuming a poor diet or overweight. Chromium deficiencies are more common in the elderly and individuals with diabetes than in healthy children and adults. For additional information please visit http://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/27/11/2741
The Symptoms of a Chromium Deficiency
- Fatigue and low energy levels
- Changes in weight
- Poor blood glucose control
- Changes in appetite
- Poor skin health
- Bone loss and weakened bones
- A greater risk for heart complications and high cholesterol
- Poor eye health
- Increased anxiety and mood changes
- A poor memory and low concentration
- A delayed time in recovering from surgery or wounds
- Stunted development and growth
The Recommended Chromium Intake
The National Academy of Sciences and the Institute of Medicine established the correct chromium intake in 1989. This is based on the amount necessary for individuals who are healthy. This varies depending on activity levels, weight, and current health.
- Infants up to six months, 0.2 micrograms
- Children between seven and twelve months, 5.5 micrograms
- One to three years, eleven micrograms
- Four to eight years, fifteen micrograms
- Nine to thirteen years, 21 micrograms for females, 25 for males
- Teens between fourteen and eighteen years, 24 micrograms for females, 35 for males
- Adults between nineteen and fifty, 25 micrograms for females, 35 for males
- Pregnant women, thirty micrograms
- Women breastfeeding, 35 micrograms
Numerous health care professionals recommend a higher consumption of chromium to help control the levels of blood sugar. This is especially important for individuals with mild or serious diabetes or a resistance to insulin. Many nutritional experts recommend 200 micrograms each day or 1,000 micrograms for metabolic syndrome or type 2 diabetes.
Chromium supplements can be purchased in capsules or tablets. They are also a part of most multivitamins. The specific biological role in the body has been difficult for researchers to verify. This means substances and minerals are unable to perform effectively without chromium. Some health professionals believe people should take chromium supplements. Other feel food sources are a better alternative. For more details visit https://www.thediabetescouncil.com/can-chromium-help-with-diabetes/.
It is important to try to get enough of any nutrient from whole and natural food sources. This helps ensure the individual is receiving the correct mix of minerals and vitamins directly from nature. This helps prevent the potential for taking too much of any given nutrient including chromium. This does not mean chromium supplements are not still a viable option.
Preventing Diabetes and Controlling Blood Sugar
Chromium can assist in enhancing the role of insulin. This hormone is critical for suffusing the cells with glucose to use for energy and controlling blood sugar. Chromium helps store essential nutrients in the body and supports a healthy metabolism. This is because it helps with the distribution and absorption of nutrients in proteins, fats and carbohydrates from the foods the individual consumes.
Brewers or nutritional yeast is high in chromium. This will help support the sugar metabolism within the blood in the glucose form. This is beneficial for the prevention of diabetes formation, resistance to insulin and glucose intolerance. The Human Nutrition Research Center of the United States Department of Agriculture conducted a study regarding the treatment for type 2 diabetics.
The participants were given either chromium supplements or a placebo every day for four months. They kept taking their regular medications during this period and did not change their eating habits. There was a significant decrease in the cholesterol levels and insulin values for the individuals receiving supplemental chromium when compared to the individuals receiving placebos.
It is important to note there were mixed results revealed by studies regarding the effectiveness of chromium for the prevention of diabetes. The results from a lot of the studies were beneficial. Others showed chromium did not necessarily control blood sugar levels in people with a predisposition for diabetes unless it was combined with another intervention method.
Reducing High Cholesterol
Chromium is required for metabolizing normal fats including cholesterol. Research has established a link between healthier levels of blood cholesterol, artery health, and chromium. Some studies have shown individuals who passed away from heart disease had a lower chromium level at the time of their death.
The Mercy Hospital and Medical Center tested the impact of chromium supplementation through their Department of Medical Education. The participants were adults and the study lasted for 42 days. These individuals had lower levels of cholesterol and LDL or low-density lipoprotein when they were given chromium. These results were opposed to the individuals given placebos.
Preventing Overeating and Weight Gain
Chromium in the form of CrPic or picolinate has been linked to reducing the risks for weight gain, obesity and has shown a positive impact on food consumption. The specific mechanism uses to affect hunger and weight is currently unknown. This being said, some studies have associated a higher intake of chromium with a decrease in the fat accumulation within the body or the adipose tissues as well as providing more control over eating habits.
The Louisiana State University Biomedical Research Center conducted a study showing a modulation in food consumption by overweight, healthy women who were craving carbohydrates. The effects of a placebo and chromium were compared for eight weeks for 42 overweight women. The women were given 1,000 milligrams of chromium every day experienced a reduction in their food consumption, fewer cravings for fat, a reduction in hunger levels and a slight drop in body weight.
Fighting Cognitive Decline and Maintaining Brain Health
Recent studies have shown a healthy insulin response has a role in the maintenance of cognitive function and brain health into old age. Chromium has the capability of improving insulin response and improving glucose levels. This means it may serve as a modulator for the brain functions. Chromium is also linked to reducing brain alterations caused by old age. Chromium has been specifically linked to better hypothalamic functions.
The hypothalamus is incredibly important. This is centrally located in the automatic nervous system. This is what helps control the emotional activity, hunger, body temperature, sleep and thirst. Researchers have suggested that chromium is capable of keeping the hypothalamus in a state that is more youthful, preventing the impact on brain neurons triggered by aging and regulating the appetite better for adults. Chromium levels may also provide benefits to other areas of the brain such as the thymus and the pineal gland. These are impacted by the way insulin is controlled.
Preventing Acne and Improving Skin Health
Rapid changes in the levels of blood sugar have been associated with skin reactions including acne. Since chromium assists in balancing the levels of blood sugar, it has been linked with improving the health of the skin. Foods high in chromium typically contain other antioxidants and phytonutrients capable of improving the appearance of the skin and fighting common signs of aging and acne. For more details please visit https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-932/chromium.
Supporting Energy Levels and a Healthy Metabolism
It is especially important for anyone who is active to receive adequate amounts of chromium and other trace minerals such as magnesium and calcium. These micronutrients are necessary for the ability to boost calories, work performance, muscle, and caloric expenditure. When less food is consumed to restrict body weight and the individual exercises, a lot of foods rich in chromium are necessary to ensure the metabolism is running strong enough.
It is important to eat foods high in chromium to compensate for the chromium loss caused by sweat and excreted through additional urine. This is due to the recovery period the body requires after exercising.
Maintaining Eye Health
Chromium is useful for protecting eyesight. It helps with eye disorders caused by age such as glaucoma. Glaucoma has been linked to diabetes. This condition causes fluid to build within the eye. This causes a harmful pressure to the optic nerve, lens, and retina. This can eventually result in blindness. Due to the way chromium helps control blood glucose, it can reduce the risk of eye-related disorders and diabetes.
Protecting Bones From Osteoporosis and Fractures
Chromium can slow down calcium loss. This means it is potentially beneficial for preventing disorders related to the bones and bone loss. These are common disorders for older women. Chromium is also a natural remedy regarding osteoporosis.
The Food Sources for Chromium
There is currently no database showing which common foods are rich in chromium and authorized by a credible authority such as the USDA. Determining the foods with the highest content is difficult because the actual content varies depending on where the particular food was grown. The quality of the soil is a significant indicator of the chromium content. The amount of chromium in foods is also impacted by the exact species of plant, the year it was grown, how long the food was left sitting after being harvested and any contamination due to the environment.
It is also important to note the concentration of chromium is capable of increasing when nickel or stainless pots and pans are used for cooking. Chromium can leak into the food while it is being cooked.
The Risks of Taking Excessive Amounts of Chromium
The chromium contained in food sources will not cause any issues by itself. If an individual takes excessively high amounts of a chromium supplement, it can impact existing health conditions and cause an interaction with specific medications. Excessive chromium can cause stomach aches, digestive issues, and hypoglycemia or low levels of blood sugar. Chromium toxicity is incredibly rare but can be caused by excessive amounts of chromium. High doses should not be taken without speaking to a physician.