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Chromium Helps to Manage Blood Sugar Levels
- Chromium is an essential mineral for our bodies such as food digestion and can be found in a daily diet or through chromium supplements
- For most, dietary supplements aren’t necessary. Sources of chromium include: whole grains, bran cereals, potatoes, onions and tomatoes
- Supplements can improve HDL cholesterol and lower high cholesterol levels. They’re also helpful in building muscle and reducing triglycerides
- Too much chromium can lead to stomach problems and low blood sugar
Chromium is an essential trace mineral our bodies use in small amounts for normal body functions, such as digesting food. Chromium exists in many natural foods including brewer’s yeast, meats, potatoes (especially the skins), cheeses, molasses, spices, whole-grain breads and cereals, and fresh fruits and vegetables. Drinking hard tap water supplies chromium to the body, and cooking in stainless-steel cookware increases the chromium content in foods.
The human body needs very little chromium, and most people get enough in their regular diet and do not require dietary supplements. Good sources of chromium include Romaine lettuce, onions and tomatoes. Other food sources of chromium include brewer’s yeast, oysters, liver, whole grains, bran cereals, and potatoes. People who do not get enough chromium in their diet usually have diets with a high proportion of processed foods, because food processing methods remove the naturally occurring chromium in commonly consumed foods. Tap water can also be a good source of chromium.
Some athletes with very demanding training programs will need chromium supplementation, as high levels of physical activity require higher levels of chromium to manage blood sugar levels. Most active people with a diet rich in fresh foods will get enough chromium, but anyone undertaking regular strenuous exercise may need additional chromium.
Chromium helps to move blood sugar (glucose) from the bloodstream into the cells to be used as energy and to turn fats, carbohydrates, and proteins into energy. For this reason, low chromium levels may increase the risk of high cholesterol and the associated health risks. Chromium supplements may improve levels of ‘good’ cholesterol (HDL) and lower triglycerides and dangerous cholesterol levels. Chromium may help some people with type 2 diabetes, by assisting in the control of blood sugar levels.
Chromium supplements are promoted as being helpful in building muscle and burning fat and in helping the body use carbohydrates. However, this has not been conclusively proven, and some forms of chromium used for this purpose, such as chromium picolinate, have been associated with dangerous side effects.
There is a known link between low chromium levels and increased risk of glaucoma and for this reason chromium supplementation has been recommended for some elderly patients. Women may benefit from chromium supplements after menopause, as chromium slows the loss of calcium and may help prevent bone loss. Antacids (including calcium carbonate) interfere with the absorption of chromium, so anyone taking antacids regularly or in large doses should consider the risk of chromium deficiency.
Chromium’s role in influencing levels of sugar in the blood mean that chromium has a correlation with energy and mood. Chromium is currently being tested on its own and in combination with standard antidepressants as a treatment for mood disorders ranging from mild to more severe and treatment resistant. Chromium has proved very effective in initial small-scale trials.
The chromium levels obtained from foods will not lead to toxicity, but taking excessive chromium supplements can lead to stomach problems and low blood sugar. Too much chromium from supplements can also damage the liver, kidneys, and nerves, and it may cause irregular heart rhythm. However, side effects from taking chromium supplements are rare.
The information supplied in this article is not to be considered as medical advice and is for educational purposes only.
|Minerals16 Nov 2008|