Chromium is an essential mineral because it helps to maintain stable blood sugar levels through proper insulin utilization. It can be helpful both for people with diabetes and also those with hypoglycemia.
Chromium is also known as glucose tolerance factor, meaning that it improves the activity of insulin and facilitates the uptake of glucose into the cells. It is vital in the synthesis of cholesterol, fats, and proteins. Chromium facilitates weight loss. Although it is not a miracle cure for obesity, chromium does increase lean muscle mass and decrease body fat.
The average American diet is chromium deficient. The main reasons for this are: the particular form of chromium in many foods is not easily absorbed; not enough foods with chromium are consumed; sugar leaches chromium from the body; and most of the chromium in foods is lost during processing.
Chromium levels decline with age, which may be one of the reasons for the increased incidence of adult onset diabetes. The average American gets less than 50 micrograms of chromium per day. The general recommendation on supplementing chromium is 200 mcg. per day. If diabetic, the recommendation is double that, or 400 mcg. per day. My favorite multi-vitamin for blood sugar management contains 1000 mcg.
Food sources of chromium include beer, brewer’s yeast, brown rice, cheese, meat and whole grains. Supplemental forms are chromium picolinate, chromium polynicotinate, and food-based chromium. I find that food-based is best - it tends to work almost twice as well as the other forms, but the other forms will work too.
Chromium is an important supplement because blood sugar problems are rampant in America today. Twenty-five to thirty percent of all Americans are insulin resistant – this equates to 60 to 75 million people. Only five to 10 percent of these will develop type 2 diabetes.
Impaired blood sugar metabolism is associated with much more than type 2 diabetes. It is a fundamental factor in serious medical conditions such as obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, high triglycerides and increased risk of heart disease. In fact, insulin resistance is as accurate a predictor of heart disease as are elevated levels of cholesterol.
Research indicates that chromium supplementation helps not only with blood sugar, or insulin resistance, but with cholesterol as well. Chromium also helps reduce plaque build up in arteriosclerosis.
I recommend chromium if blood sugar swings from too high to too low. Chromium tends to level out the “peaks and valleys” so that blood sugar is more stable.
Margaret Durst owns The Green House, a vitamin, herb and health food store in Mason, Texas.