Properties and Benefits of Chromium: Although present in rather small amounts in our bodies, chromium is a mineral of great importance for our well-being. Research suggests that chromium helps insulin transport glucose to cells in order to produce energy. Also, it is believed that it may be beneficial in lowering blood sugar levels in individuals suffering from type-2 diabetes. Moreover, chromium appears to have great positive effects on the cardiovascular system, contributing to lowering blood cholesterol levels and reducing high blood pressure.
Additionally, the mineral supports the digestion process and contributes to ensuring adequate energy levels. Our body requires rather small amounts of chromium to help it perform essential life-sustaining functions. This mineral is essential for good metabolism because it helps transform glucose into energy, which our body then uses to sustain basic functions such as digestion or breathing.
An adequate chromium intake also supports the conversion of fats, proteins and carbohydrates into energy. Moreover, it is said to promotes muscle tone and actively contributes to lower high cholesterol levels. In addition to this, it activates several essential body enzymes and supports brain activity.
Our diet should supply us with adequate amounts of chromium, necessary for staying in good health. Chromium rich foods include brewer’s yeast, broccoli, black pepper, thyme, mushrooms, whole grains, potatoes, tomatoes, coffee, tea, beer (due to its high yeast content) and meat. Brewer’s yeast is by far the richest food source of chromium. However, it is not so easy on the stomach and many people have trouble digesting it. Broccoli is the second best chromium food source.
Nonetheless, most food sources do not contain sufficient amounts of chromium and supplements may sometimes be required in order to avoid deficiencies. Chromium chloride, chromium nicotinate and chromium picolinate are the most common names of chromium forms in food supplements.
Need to know: chromium bioavailability refers to the fact that not all the chromium we ingest is fully absorbed at the intestinal level. Some forms of the mineral may be poorly absorbed, while digestive problems or certain medication (antacids, for example) also prevent absorption.
Even so, very little chromium gets absorbed in an overall healthy individual. Fortunately, the human body has significantly low demands. Exceeding its needs may lead to toxicity symptoms such as liver and kidney damage or gastrointestinal problems. Nonetheless, it remains a mineral with great health benefits.
1) Chromium improves insulin function, regulating blood glucose levels. People suffering from obesity or diabetes show poor insulin activity. Although their pancreas produces sufficient insulin, it seems their body cannot make good use of it. Chromium helps the body use insulin for transporting glucose (sugar) to cells for the purpose of producing energy.
2) It prevents type 2 diabetes. Because it regulates insulin activity, chromium prevents the accumulation of high glucose levels in the blood which may cause hyperglycemia and, in time, diabetes.
3) An adequate chromium intake may help relieve depression symptoms in people suffering from atypical depression and may prove efficient in treating AD (Alzheimer’s Disease).
4) By lowering LDL cholesterol and raising HDL cholesterol, chromium improves blood lipid levels, which is a sign of cardiovascular health. It prevents hypertension as well.
5) Chromium supports metabolism by ensuring the proper synthesis of fats, proteins and carbohydrates during digestion, a function which contributes to improving energy levels.
6) Last but not least, it would appear that chromium supports weight loss by eliminating the feeling of hunger and promoting a better muscle tone.
Chromium deficiency symptoms include: insulin resistance and hyperglycemia (high blood sugar levels) leading to type 2 diabetes, hypertension and high cholesterol, heart disease, brain inflammation, severe weight loss.
Although chromium deficiency is rare, toxicity may occur when abusing food supplements. Because it is stored in the liver (and spleen), it may lead to liver damage when an upper limit is exceeded. Although chromium is probably the least studied mineral, data available up to this point suggests that while recommended daily allowances should not be exceeded, it is just as important to add chromium-rich foods to our diet in order to keep healthy.