Chromium – blood sugar’s friend

 

Function

Because it is involved in the metabolism of glucose, chromium is needed for energy. Chromium molecules are signal molecules, chromium’s role is to increase the strength of the signal that insulin sends, helping to drive blood sugar into cells more quickly after a meal. It is also vital in the synthesis of cholesterol, fats, and proteins. It maintains stable blood sugar levels through proper insulin utilisation.

Therapeutic effects

Helpful for people with diabetes and hypoglycemia, metabolic syndrome, high cholesterol, mental impairment such as depression – see below.

Low plasma chromium levels can be an indication of coronary artery disease. Helps expectant mothers maintain blood sugar levels, especially as the developing foetus depletes the mother’s chromium stores.

There is no real evidence that chromium helps with weight loss or muscle building, but it has been suggested.

About hypoglycemia:

When sugar is in excess, eg: from food, it produces an excess of insulin. If too much insulin is released, hypoglycemia is the result, as blood sugar levels fall. The result is hyperactivity, violent and aggressive behaviour, mental confusion, anxiety and depression, as low blood sugar fails to fuel the brain. MSG can cause hypoglycemia without extra sugar. Alcohol causes low blood sugar, and because alcohol has a euphoric, energetic effect, people end up drinking more in order to get over the low of hypoglycemia, which leads to a vicious circle, including violent, aggressive behaviour, and mental confusion. Aspartame also contains alcohol and causes hypoglycemia.

Animal sources of chromium in food:

 Calf liver, cheese and dairy, eggs, chicken.

Vegetable sources of chromium in food:

Broccoli, barley, oats, tomatoes, green beans, romaine lettuce, black pepper, beer, brewer’s yeast, brown rice, whole grains, dried beans, blackstrap molasses, corn and corn oil, dulse, mushrooms and potatoes.

Losses from food:

Not significant with boiling or steaming.

Those most at risk of chromium deficiency:

People with a high sugar diet as this causes loss of chromium. Also people who eat a lot of junk food and over-processed food as this does not contain the amounts of chromium that the body needs, is often full of sugar that causes loss of any available chromium in the food, and causes a spike in blood sugar levels, resulting in a hypoglycemic blood sugar crash.

Causes of chromium deficiency:

Anxiety and mental impairment, fatigue, glucose intolerance, inadequate metabolism of amino acids, risk of arteriosclerosis.

Excessive intake of chromium leads to:

Chromium toxicity, linked to dermatitis and rashes, gastrointestinal ulcers, kidney and liver impairment. Too much chromium has also been linked to light-headedness. Even if you are taking over 50 times the RDA of chromium, you are very unlikely to suffer from any of the above symptoms. What does lead to too much chromium is living in an area where there is welding, painting, electroplating, steel and iron refinery, and textile dyeing, where chromium is present in toxic amounts in water and air.

Supplementation:

Bioavailable chromium is absorbed by the body as chromium picolate, an amino acid, though see above. Vitamin C enhances uptake of chromium, as is naturally found in broccoli.

FFI: World’s Healthiest Foods article. http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=nutrient&dbid=51

Oregon State / Linus Pauling Institute article

http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/minerals/chromium

 

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