Chromium is a mineral, also described as an essential trace element. It comes in two main forms, hexavalent and trivalent. Hexavalent is the form that is used in pigments, dyes, plastics, and ink.
It is not safe to handle directly and can cause skin irritations. Hexavalent chromium is one of the strongest minerals on earth. It is toxic and cannot be safely absorbed. It is to be avoided unless in industrial use.
Trivalent is the form that is found in healthy foods. It is the form that our bodies need. Our bodies are not able to produce chromium and must consume an outside source.
It is a trace element because we do not need much of it to perform that tasks it is designed to do. The lack of chromium can affect the ability to lose weight.
How Can Chromium Help with Weight Loss?
There are people who workout and see little to no results. Your workout regimen may not be the cause. There may be a deeper cause at the cellular level.
One common problem is insulin resistance. Insulin resistance can lead to a prediabetic state and eventually type two diabetes. One of the major causes is the lack of chromium in the diet.
A healthy diet always accompanies an exercise regimen. It is great to be healthy. More importantly, it is essential to provide the nutrients your body needs.
When the body has the correct nutritional balance, it can perform at optimal levels. Good fuel helps to repair the muscles. It can also reduce hunger. Getting the correct nutrients may cause the body to stop seeking food to fill the void.
Chromium is one of the essential nutrients that the body needs. Eating healthy food is good. It is pointless if the body is unable to utilize it for energy. Chromium has a specific job to do with this process.
When we eat our digestive system turns the food into glucose. The glucose is the main fuel source of every cell in our bodies. Once it is broken down, it is then sent into the bloodstream to feed our cells.
The pancreas produces insulin to help the cells absorb the glucose. The job of insulin is to get the glucose out of the bloodstream inside the cell. More glucose in the bloodstream increases the amount of insulin needed to process it. Insulin spikes happen whenever we eat to regulate the amount of glucose in our circulating through the blood.
Too much glucose in the blood can cause damage to the blood vessels. It causes oxidative stress. This type of damage may lead to atherosclerosis. It is the reason that persons with diabetes are at an increased risk of heart disease and stroke.
Excess circulatory glucose may also damage nerves. It is the reason that persons with uncontrolled diabetes experiences neuropathy. The glucose cuts off the ability nerves’ ability to send signals.
Insulin and chromium work with other elements to prevent such damage. They both must function properly to prevent the destruction that free glucose may cause. They depend on each other to get the job done.
Once the glucose lines up with a cell, it waits to enter. The insulin comes along and opens the door so that the glucose can enter. It is at this moment that chromium goes to work.
Chromium binds to the glucose transporter and pushes the glucose into the door. If there is no chromium or not enough in the body, the glucose just continues to sit at the door. It floats around the bloodstream waiting to enter. The body will eventually downgrade the receptor.
When more food is ingested, more glucose is made. The problem is compounded. The body thinks it does not have enough insulin to open the door for the glucose. The pancreas receives the signal. It makes more.
The increase of insulin in the blood stream sends a signal that increases the need for more glucose. The person craves sugar to correct the balance. When more sugar is eaten, more insulin is produced.
It is a vicious cycle. Insulin resistance is a persistent problem with little to no symptoms. It may take a long time before the person knows there is a problem.
The excess insulin in the body performs another task. If the amount of glucose is not reduced by its presence, insulin instructs the body to store it as fat. It is insulin that keeps watch over the fat storage and signals when to release it.
The correct amount of chromium in the body may prevent this vicious cycle from the beginning. If chromium were available, then the insulin would open the door and chromium would assist in escorting it inside. There the glucose would fuel the cells the way it was designed.
The insulin would reduce in the bloodstream because the glucose level would drop back to normal. The craving for sugar and carbohydrates would subside, and weight loss may occur.
What are the Benefits of Chromium?
As discussed above chromium plays an essential role in glucose metabolism. It is also an important part of the balance preventing insulin resistance. Early prevention may greatly reduce the risk of type two diabetes.
Chromium is not easily absorbed. Deficiency has been a problem for many people that do not maintain a healthy diet. It is also a problem with older people that cannot absorb nutrients as efficiently.
Some of the symptoms of deficiency can be:
- problems with blood sugar metabolism
- altered cholesterol metabolism
- delayed ability to heal
- growth abnormalities in young children
The daily recommended intake of chromium is 25 micrograms. It is present in broccoli, turkey breast, red wine, green beans, and potatoes, to name a few. A healthy diet of lean meats, grains and vegetables may supply the balance needed.
Many would argue that the mineral depletion of the soil, or the processed food industry, has reduced the amount of chromium that is available in our food supply. Even if we made healthy food choices we still may not get the number of nutrients we need. It may be necessary to supplement chromium if this is the suspicion.
Chromium picolinate is the most common form of the supplement. Picolinate, picolinic acid, is a natural chelator. It allows the mineral to absorb better by surrounding it with a series of neutral molecules, which will allow it to pass into the cell membrane. It delivers it safely for the body to utilize it properly.
Chromium also comes in a glycinate. It is not as common to find as picolinate. Chromium glycinate is bound to the amino acid glycine. Which delivers in a similar fashion to picolinate. Glycine is made by the body as part of our DNA.
Another form is chromium nicotinate. Nicotinate is a salt or ester of the B complex vitamins. This form is not as prevalent in stores but may be found online. It contains a form of Niacin.
Picolinate, glycinate, and nicotinate are all delivery systems that assist the chromium’s entry into the cell membranes. Without them, the chromium would be prevented from entering due to its positive ionic state. There is no definitive test to prove one superior to the others.
No matter which form is chosen the benefits are the same. Bodybuilders and athletes experience enhanced performance. Persons suffering from type two diabetes or insulin resistance have reported normalizing effects and some cases reversal. Improvements in endothelial function have been reported. In addition, improvements in cholesterol levels, biomarkers for oxidative stress, and atherosclerosis were reported in a 2017 study.
In addition, it has been given to treat acne, polycystic ovarian syndrome, Turner’s syndrome, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, reactive hypoglycemia, and in older people to reduce mental decline. Whether choosing chromium for weight loss or other health benefits it is essential to include it in a healthy diet. It is not recommended to take more than 1,000 mcg per day.
If already taking medication for any of the above illnesses or disorders, it is imperative to speak with a physician prior to supplementation. The quantity of food sources is minimal. The supplements are at much higher dosage with delivery systems for better absorption. Higher dosage increases the chance of interactions with medications and other supplements.
Persons taking insulin, or with kidney, liver, or thyroid disease should speak with their physician about the metabolism of the mineral. It may also interact with medications prescribed for these and other conditions.
Interactions with chromium are but not limited to:
- non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications such as (ibuprofen, naproxen, and aspirin)
- antacids or proton pump inhibitors
Make sure that a physician knows about all medications, including supplements, if they are prescribing chromium. It may be taken in supplement form over the counter. It is also used in hospitals to treat severe insulin resistance and uncontrolled hyperglycemia.
An intravenous delivery is employed for urgent treatment for severe diagnosis. Blood glucose has been noted to improve within 12 to 24 hours after treatment. The intravenous form of chromium is chromic chloride.
Chromium can be taken alone. However, it is commonly included in multi-mineral formulations. Some multivitamins may include it as well. If supplementing in a separate dose, check the other supplements to ensure that it is not in excess.
There are no adverse effects from adequate chromium supplementation. The body will only take in enough to replace the deficiency. Taking the supplement with milk or phosphorous-rich foods can reduce absorption.
Chromium is primarily retrieved from a healthy diet. Prolonged use of excessive supplementation has resulted in problems with the liver, kidney, gastrointestinal tract, and the skin in the form of dermatitis. After supplementation has begun, introducing chromium-rich foods should take the place of supplemental chromium over time.
Chromium is an essential part of our diet. It is important for the metabolism and processing of glucose. By enhancing the effectiveness of insulin in the body, the cycle of insulin resistance can be halted.
There is one other benefit to chromium in reducing insulin resistance during weight loss. People that lose weight often have problems with loose skin. When the glucose is metabolized properly, the skin may not reduce at the same rate. Insulin not only opens the door for glucose, but also for protein and amino acids.
Since the insulin was resisted, the building blocks were not able to improve the skin. Collagen production may be reduced, and the skin will lose its elasticity. Before supplementing with collagen or going under the knife, increasing the intake of chromium may put improve the loose skin.
Chromium is not well researched. Some studies have shown improvements. Other studies did not. There is no correlated study yet that has made a conclusive recommendation for specific dosage. There is not an industry standard for adjustment to dosage for the treatment of any conditions. When researching the benefits of chromium there are many conflicting views.
One thing is certain. It is available in most foods. It plays an essential role in the function of metabolism. We cannot live without it. Deficiency in this mineral is connected to illness and disease in many forms. All of which are still being discovered.
In conclusion, chromium is essential to our ability to metabolize carbohydrates, fats, and sugars. There are many other claims that are being studied. The most common use is to regulate blood sugar and resolve insulin resistance.
Insulin resistance has been recently found as a precondition in many illnesses. Alzheimer’s disease is, by some, considered type three diabetes. Until recently it was not known that insulin resistance can happen in the brain. It is a precursor to dementia and stroke.
There is also a study involving glaucoma. Chromium has been shown to prevent glaucoma on some levels. More testing needs to be completed for purposes of proving the claim.
Chromium is a great supplement for weight loss and longevity. It is frequently added into the bodybuilding and athletic regimen. Chromium enhances the effectiveness of insulin which in turn regulates amino acid absorption.
When our bodies have the tools it needs to return to a healthy state, it responds. it is not uncommon to see significant weight loss in the first week of a healthy diet that includes chromium. The improvement in metabolic health may shed water and fat more quickly.