Chromium Information

In depth research on essential vitamins.

This mineral helps the hormone insulin work more efficiently, making it an especially important nutrient for people who have type 2 Diabetes or are at risk for developing it. Insulin usually helps lower blood sugar levels, but if you have type 2 Diabetes, your insulin is less effective. In fact, some cases of type 2 diabetes are actually triggered by a chromium deficiency. Chromium's effect on insulin may also help you lose weight. Studies show that it can help you hold on to muscle while shedding fat but as with most diets, don't expect immediate results. Chromium picolinate is thought to be its best form to take for weight loss purposes.

Chromium has been used for diabetes, high cholesterol and low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) and is backed by a great deal of scientific research. There may also be some benefit for high triglyceride levels and insulin resistance syndrome. Chromium has also been used for weight loss, to increase athletic performance and depression.

Most people need 50 to 200 mcg daily. If you have diabetes or a pre-diabetic condition, take 200 mcg two or three times a day. For best absorption, take chromium in either a liquid multivitamin, or a separate supplement (ignore the amount in your multivitamin), and take it at a different time than your multi. If you take diabetes medication, talk to your doctor; chromium may reduce your need for these medications.

Chromium is an essential nutrient with many natural sources, including foods like liver, American cheese, brewer's yeast, and wheat germ. Many meats, fish, fruits, whole grains, and vegetables, especially carrots, potatoes, and spinach are also good sources, as are alfalfa, brown sugar, molasses, and animal fats.

A small percentage of people who are chromium-deficient typically have type 2 Diabetes. While chromium supplements have been shown to help improve insulin levels, there are no good tests available to indicate which patients will benefit from it. However, chromium has few side effects and is considered safe at dosages up to 1,200 micrograms daily. Chromium may have some benefits for triglycerides and cholesterol levels, but studies in the report were small, and improvements could be better. Some reports suggest that chromium helps to augjment bodybuilding and postmenopausal maintenance of bone loss, although this needs peer-reviewed research findings to reach firm conclusions. Chromium is an essential trace mineral that also assists the body in maintaining normal blood sugar levels. Chromium may also play a role in increasing HDL ("good") cholesterol, while lowering total cholesterol levels.

Chromium picolinate is popular and has been reported to be useful for weight loss and muscle growth, a supplement that helps you lose body fat. In the early 1990s, several small studies suggested that athletes undergoing weight-training programs lost more fat and gained more muscle when they took daily supplements of 200 micrograms of chromium picolinate (CP). Chromium alone is a mineral; chromium picolinate is a form that's thought to enter cells more easily.

The reports of Chromium's effect on weight loss seems plausible to many researchers because of the role that chromium plays in the body, helping to keep insulin levels within the normal range. Insulin, of course, regulates blood sugar and fat levels as well as stimulating protein synthesis in muscles. Insulin also boosts carbohydrate metabolism, causing the body to burn glucose rather than store it as body fat.

However, numerous studies since then have concluded that chromium picolinate must have little effect, if at all on the proportion of fat to lean tissue. Recently there has also been great interest in chromium regarding its effect on depression. Chromium is a trace element. Trace elements are metals, such as zinc or copper found in very small amounts in the human body and are necessary, if not vital for various vital functions. It has been known for many years that chromium is essential for the way our bodies handle sugar.

Chromium deficiency makes it hard for cells and tissues to make use of glucose, a simple sugar. This problem is especially serious in people with diabetes, in which deficiency of the hormone insulin already creates problems with high blood sugar. But the role of chromium in depression is just now emerging. A recent study investigated the use of chromium in five patients with a chronic form of mild depression called dysthymia. In one case, a patient who had not responded well to a Prozac-type antidepressant decided on his own to add chromium to his medication. Within a few days he was feeling dramatically better. Other case studies support the beefits of Chromium for moderate depression.

Several other cases also seemed to show marked improvement when chromium was added to the patients' regular antidepressant medication. The explanation for this effect is not entirely clear as yet. While such case reports are intriguing, they must be viewed with some skepticism. Large-scale, controlled studies must be conducted before anyone with chronic depression should rush out and demand to be started on chromium. Generally speaking, it wouldn't hurt to at least give it a try for moderate depression.

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