This week we’ll discuss chromium. It is a mineral that humans require in trace amounts, although its mechanisms of action in the body and the amounts needed for optimal health are not well defined. It is found primarily in two forms: 1) trivalent (chromium 3+), which is biologically active and found in food, and 2) hexavalent (chromium 6+), a toxic form that results from industrial pollution. Here we’ll just discuss the trivalent form.
Chromium is known to enhance the action of insulin, a hormone critical to the metabolism and storage of carbohydrate, fat, and protein in the body, as well as appearing to also be directly involved in carbohydrate, fat, and protein metabolism. Chromium is widely distributed in the food supply, but most foods provide only small amounts. Meat and whole-grain products, as well as some fruits, vegetables, and spices are relatively good sources. In contrast, foods high in simple sugars (like sucrose and fructose) are low in chromium. In fact, diets high in simple sugars have been shown to increase the body’s excretion of chromium. Chromium supplements are available as chromium chloride, chromium nicotinate, chromium picolinate, high-chromium yeast, and chromium citrate. Chromium chloride in particular appears to have poor bioavailability. Eating a variety of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, meats, and milk and milk products should provide sufficient intake of chromium. However, in those at higher risk of diabetes and elevated cholesterol, supplementing may prove beneficial. No specific tests are currently available to determine one’s chromium status. Adults who notice an improvemtent in glucose/ans/or lipids, after supplementation, may have been considered as being deficient. Supplementation of up to 500mcg daily might prove useful.
And as always, double check with your health care provider if a supplement is right for you