With high-octane chromium
Gaetano Morello, ND
Chromium plays an important role in carbohydrate metabolism, has a number of health benefits, including weight loss, and can be found in a variety of foods.
Chromium plays an important role in carbohydrate metabolism and may also have some benefits in weight loss, athletic performance, and in lowering cholesterol.
This nutrient is the active component of the glucose tolerance factor, or GTF. Chromium works closely with insulin–a hormone produced in the pancreas and vital in the transport of glucose from the bloodstream into cells, where it is converted into energy. This essential trace mineral is found in tiny amounts in such foods as lean meats, vegetables, whole grain breads and cereals, and good old-fashioned brewer’s yeast.
Chromium facilitates the uptake of glucose into cells. Without chromium, insulin’s action is blocked and blood sugar levels remain elevated. In simple terms, if we say that sugar is the gas that makes cell engines run and insulin is the fuel line that takes the gas from the gas tank to the engine, then, for our purposes, chromium is the fuel pump that helps gas flow to cell engines.
Chromium increases the body’s sensitivity to insulin, helping to reduce insulin levels to maintain a healthy weight, normalize cholesterol levels, and, in some cases, improve athletic performance.
Running on Empty
Research suggests that marginal chromium deficiency is common in Canada. This deficiency could be a contributing factor to the development of diabetes, hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), and obesity. Supplementing with chromium reduces blood sugar, lowers cholesterol, and may prevent the progression of diabetes.
Dieticians generally agree that chromium deficiencies are common due to poor absorption of the nutrient and inadequate diet. The primary sign of chromium deficiency is related to abnormal blood sugar levels. This can manifest itself as either high blood sugar or in some cases, low blood sugar. In either situation, anxiety, fatigue, light-headedness, and even depression can be the prevailing symptoms.
Safe Levels of Chromium
Trivalent chromium, the form in all chromium supplements (including chromium picolinate), is extremely safe; to date, no clinical studies have demonstrated otherwise. In 19 randomized controlled trials in which individuals received between 175 and 1,000 mcg of chromium daily for durations of between six and 64 weeks, no evidence of toxicity was found.
Consuming foods high in chromium will optimize the body’s response to insulin, which in turn helps regulate sugar levels and aids in weight loss, athletic performance, and maintenance of healthy cholesterol levels.
Getting Enough Chromium?
Chromium is found in whole grains, beef, broccoli, and certain spices such as black pepper, thyme, and garlic. Foods high in sugar are not only low in chromium but also promote the excretion of chromium in the urine.
|Food||Serving size||Micrograms (mcg) of chromium|
|brewer’s yeast||3-1/2 oz (100 g)||112|
|broccoli||1/2 cup (125 mL)||11|
|whole wheat bread||3-1/2 oz (100 g)||42|
|green pepper||3 oz (85 g)||19|
|turkey slices||3 oz (85 g)||10|
|red wine||5 oz (140 mL)||1 to 13 depending on the chromium levels of the |
soil in which the grapes are grown
|grape juice||8 oz (250 mL)||8 depending on the chromium levels of the |
soil in which the grapes are grown
How Much to Take
To date, no recommended daily allowance (RDA) has been established for chromium. However, experts in the field suggest that 200 mcg of chromium are needed daily. In cases of impaired glucose tolerance, higher doses in the range of 400 to 600 mcg daily should be used.