is a trace mineral that is found in very small amounts in the
human body. Scientists believe that it helps insulin bring
glucose into the cells for energy, performing an important
metabolic task. Because of this, many researchers believe that
chromium can be helpful in reducing blood sugar in cases of Type
2 diabetes. Chromium may also play a part in reducing high blood
has been shown to have a number of important effects in the
body. It is an important element in the metabolism of glucose
into energy, as well as assisting in the conversion of fat,
proteins and carbohydrates into energy for your body to use.
Specifically, it seems to help regulate the effects of insulin
on sugar, making it an important dietary need for those who are
either prediabetic or have type II diabetes.
addition, chromium is essential in the breakdown of proteins,
carbohydrates and fats, and may help promote muscle tone, as
well as lowering cholesterol in the blood. Because chromium
activates several enzymes, it also is important for healthy
brain function and a number of chemical processes necessary for
Chromium Comes From:
can be derived from food, including cereals, black pepper,
thyme, mushrooms, coffee, teas, beer, broccoli and processed
meats. Brewers’ yeast is the richest food source of chromium,
but many people find it difficult to digest. Chromium is
available in several forms as a dietary supplement, including
chromium chloride, chromium nicotinate and chromium picolinate.
Chromium is found in high amounts in relatively few foods.
Compounding the problem of dietary availability of chromium is
the fact that the body doesn’t absorb chromium from foods very
well. Because it is absorbed most easily by the body, most
chromium supplements use chromium picolinate. There have been
very rare reports of kidney damage related to chromium
picolinate, but other forms of chromium supplements have shown
no harmful side effects even at high doses.
Benefits of Chromium:
has been one of the most touted mineral supplements for some
time. While there have been many overblown claims made for the
health benefits of chromium, particularly of chromium
picolinate, there are also many genuine health benefits to
taking chromium supplements as part of a regular regimen of
health supplements. These include:
Chromium improves insulin function in the body and leads to
better control of glucose in the blood. In some studies,
those with type II diabetes have been able to reduce the
amount of insulin that they take when they add chromium to
their daily supplements.
Chromium alleviates depression in those with atypical
depression. In a very recent double-blind placebo study,
researchers found that chromium picolinate was especially
helpful in reducing a number of symptoms of depression in
those who reported high carbohydrate cravings. Among the
improvements was a reduction in carbohydrate cravings, and
higher level of mood improvement on a daily basis.
Chromium may be useful in improving lipid profiles – i.e. –
lowering bad cholesterol and raising good cholesterol. This
has been suggested by the results of a handful of studies,
but is not yet confirmed.
Chromium may help improve muscle/fat composition during
weight loss. At least one study showed that those who took a
chromium supplement while dieting lost twice as much weight
as those who took a placebo. Other studies have had more
variable results. More research is needed to help determine
the effects of chromium picolinate on weight loss.
Recommended Daily Intake of Chromium:
adequate daily intake (AI) for chromium as recommended by the
National Institutes of Health is as follows:
Children 1 to 3 years: 11 mcg
Children 4 to 8 years: 15 mcg
Boys 9 to 13 years: 25 mcg
Teenage boys 14 to 18 years: 35 mcg
Girls 9 to 13 years: 21 mcg
Teenage girls 14 to 18 years: 24 mcg
Pregnant teenagers 14 to 18 years: 29 mcg
Breastfeeding teenagers 14 to 18 years: 44
Men 19 to 50 years: 35 mcg
Men 51 years and older: 30 mcg
Women 19 to 50 years: 25 mcg
Women 51 years and older: 20 mcg
Pregnant women 19 years and older: 30 mcg
Breastfeeding women 19 years and older: 30
recommended for disease prevention are generally in the range of
300 mcg per day, and for treatment of diabetes can be as high as
1000 mcg per day. The safety of dosages that high for an
extended period of time has not been established.
Symptoms of Chromium Deficiency:
deficiencies have been associated with impaired glucose
tolerance, and may affect the ability of insulin to regulate
sugar balance. Low chromium levels may also cause high
cholesterol levels, and increase the risk of heart disease. It
is often associated with insulin resistance, hyperglycemia and
abnormalities of lipids in the boold. Sever chromium deficiency
is rare, but can cause weight loss, peripheral neuropathy and
inflammation of the brain.
commonly, low levels of chromium in the body seem to be
associated with type II diabetes, high blood sugar and insulin
Extremely high doses of chromium may reduce the effectiveness of
insulin and can cause stomach irritation. There have been very
rare reports of liver dysfunction and rapid heartbeat, and two
reports of kidney damage attributed to chromium picolinate
supplements. In addition, one research study reported that
chromium picolinate supplements caused chromosome damage – a
precursor of cancer – in hamsters. Other forms of chromium did
not cause any damage. As a result, many doctors caution against
taking chromium picolinate in high doses.
Supplementing with Chromium:
Because the daily requirement for chromium is so low – around
250 mcg – most doctors believe it’s preferable to get all the
chromium your body needs as part of your diet or in a good
multivitamin health supplement. Our own preference for a
complete health supplement is
Total Balance from
Xtend-Life Natural Products of New Zealand.
Total Balance includes 2 mgs of chromium as chromium
nicotinate, a form that has been shown to be safe. Chromium is
only one ingredient in a synergistically balanced formula of
vitamins, minerals, enzymes and other nutrients that offer a
total solution to evening out nutritional needs.