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All About Chromium

On the periodic table Chromium is a transition metal, in the earth’s crust it is the 22nd most abundant element, and in the human body it is an essential trace element needed in small amounts (mcg) for optimal health and wellbeing.

Considering it’s been four decades since it was discovered as an essential mineral to the human body, there is not a massive amount of research on Chromium’s biological role.  Pronounced deficiency of chromium is so rare that it has only been cited in three cases.  It is readily available in common foods and according to the medical establishment most of us receive sufficient levels through our diet, however nutritionally minded researchers believe chromium deficiency or insufficiency is much more prevalent.  Chromium is found in foods like grass fed meats, whole grains, garlic, oysters, broccoli, grapes, potatoes, green beans, hen’s eggs and butter.

So what do we know about chromium’s role in human health?  Thus far, the research tells us that Chromium is needed to manage blood sugar levels, prevent insulin resistance, diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular disease, that it’s needed to metabolise fats, carbohydrates and proteins and that it’s important to skin integrity and brain health.   Chromium is the major component in the glucose tolerance factor (GTF), along with Vitamin B3 and the amino acids glycine, glutamic acid and cysteine. Chromium through GTF enhances the role of insulin, the critical hormone that controls blood sugar and helps bring glucose into cells where it’s used for energy.  So chromium has a vital role in the insulin-signalling pathways that help balance blood sugar levels and insulin-enhancing activity.  Research also shows chromium helps to increase HDL (“good”) cholesterol levels and protects our DNA from damage, mitigating cellular mutations that lead to various disease states.

Common signs and symptoms of chromium deficiency include elevated blood sugar and insulin levels, poor blood sugar management, cravings and addictions, low energy, fatigue, acne, slow healing wounds, anxiety, high LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels, weight gain and worsening eye sight.  In a study conducted by Louisiana State University found that 1,000mg of supplemental chromium significantly helped modulate food intake in healthy, overweight, adult women who reported cravings. After comparing the effects of chromium versus placebo in overweight women over eight-weeks, the chromium group experienced reduced food intake, reduced hunger levels, fewer cravings and a slight weight loss.

With the human race facing a pandemic of type 2 diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular disease you can see why nutritionally minded practitioners believe chromium insufficiency or deficiency is much more prevalent than conservative thought permits.  People with diabetes and the elderly are more likely to have a chromium deficiency and a morbid fact is upon autopsy of people who died from heart disease, most have low chromium levels at the time of their death.  A study conducted by the Human Nutrition Research Center US Department of Agriculture found people with type 2 diabetes were given chromium supplements daily over four months whilst maintaining their normal medications and not changing dietary habits, results show insulin values and cholesterol levels decreased significantly compared to the placebo group.

Nutritionally minded health care professionals recommend supplemental chromium to help with blood sugar management, especially for people with existing cases of mild or serious insulin-resistance or diabetes.  Doses typically range from 100 to 1,000 micro-grams daily depending on the severity of the insulin-resistance conditions.  The current dietary intake range for chromium is based on Adequate Intake (AI) and Dietary Reference Intake (DRIs) as most Governmental Health Departments state there is insufficient research to establish a Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) or Reference Nutrient Intake (RNI) level for Chromium.  With further research and clinical studies, adequate RDA and RNI levels will be established and it is possible that Chromium Picolinate will be shown to ameliorate chronic health conditions like obesity, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

O2B Chromium Picolinate helps to metabolise carbohydrates, fats and proteins as well as increase energy production at a cellular level.

Written by O2B Healthy Nutritional Therapist, Ali Maskell B.Sc. (Hons)

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