Learn More About Chromium
What is chromium?
Human beings require trace amounts of the shiny metal known as chromium—one of the most common elements in the earth’s crust--for sugar metabolism and to enhance the action of insulin in the body.
Chromium exists in several forms, one being hexavalent chromium (which is associated with industrial exposure and toxicity) and trivalent chromium (the stable, biologically active type found in food and often used as a supplement).
What are food sources of chromium?
A surprising amount of uncertainty surrounds this question, since different of the same foods appear to have widely varying levels of chromium. Nonetheless, evidence seems to indicate that good sources of chromium include brewer’s yeast, organ meats, whole grains, nuts, broccoli, and green beans. As is so often the case, modern processed diets tend to contain low, possibly inadequate amounts of this trace nutrient. A high intake of sugar may also deplete bodily stores of chromium.
What is chromium used for?
A highly processed diet short of micronutrients has been recognized as a major factor in the rising incidence of diabetes and other insulin related conditions. Of these missing micronutrients, chromium has, in the opinion of many researchers, the single greatest effect on insulin response. Until the last decade or so, few physicians recognized the importance of supplemental chromium in the treatment of diabetes, but double-blind placebo research conducted by Dr. Richard Anderson at the US Department of Agriculture has shown that chromium plays an important role in amplifying insulin response in diabetics.
For two months USDA scientists studied 180 subjects with Type II diabetes. The upshot: At the end of two months, those who took 1,000 mcg of chromium daily showed significant improvement not only in insulin response and in the number if insulin receptors but also in levels of fat and cholesterol. The group that took four months the group taking 400 mcg chromium daily also improved, albeit much more slowly. The researchers concluded that all the patients taking chromium showed measurable improvement in their diabetes-related symptoms.
Studies such as the above have been sufficiently compelling so that in April 2005 the Food and Drug Administration approved a qualified health claim petition for chromium that claims the supplement may reduce the risk of insulin resistance and possibly type 2 diabetes. Other research hints at the possibility that chromium supplements may be helpful in treating obesity, in increasing lean muscle mass, and in improving athletic performance. In fact, a recent meta-analysis of ten randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trials of chromium supplementation found that chromium was associated with a 2.4-pound reduction in body weight. Additional work suggests that diabetics who take sulfonylurea drugs—which tend to promote undesirable weight gain—can prevent or reduce this side effect by the use of chromium.
Even lean non-diabetics may stand to benefit from the use of chromium, particularly if their blood chemistry markers suggest a risk of heart disease. In one small study of 28 people, those taking 200 micrograms of chromium daily for 42 days had significant decreases in both total cholesterol and LDL, decreases that didn't occur when they took a placebo. A follow-up meta-analysis of five other studies involving more than 300 patients showed that total blood cholesterol levels fell more than 20 points on average, going from more than 220 mg/dl to less than 200 mg/dl, in subjects receiving chromium. Another study showed a significant blood pressure drop in hypertensives who took chromium together with grape seed extract, but more research is definitely needed in this area before any conclusions can be drawn.
How is chromium taken?
The intestinal tract does a poor job of absorbing chromium, but vitamin B3 and vitamin C enhance this nutrient’s uptake, so this nutrient may best be taken either in or with a multivitamin. A good, high-potency multivitamin may provide enough chromium for most consumers, say, in the 100 mcg to 200 mcg range, but athletes, diabetics, the insulin resistant, the obese, the elderly, and those simply looking for a safe and inexpensive form of “nutritional insurance” may take extra amounts ranging from 500 mcg to 1000 mcg. (Bear in mind that up to fifty percent of healthy American adults may be deficient in this key micronutrient.)
Good but inexpensive forms include chromium picolinate, chromium polynicotinate, and yeast-based chromium. Avoid chromium chloride, a form that may be poorly absorbed.
Is chromium safe?
NOTE: Diabetics should be aware that chromium may change their response to prescription medications such as insulin, and therefore should consult with a nutritionally knowledgeable physician before taking chromium.
Save for the above caveat, toxicity studies suggest that chromium supplements appear to be quite safe and possible beneficial to many people.
And remember—you can get the best chromium supplements at the best prices from A1Supplements.com!
© A1Supplements.com 2008.
These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.