What is Chromium?

Numerous vitamins and minerals are vitally important for the maintenance and growth of the body. The human body needs trace minerals in very small amounts.

Although the body requires only a small quantity of such minerals, trace minerals play essential roles in the body’s development. Some of the major trace minerals in the body include zinc, iodine, selenium, iron, copper, manganese, molybdenum, and chromium.

So what is chromium then? Chromium is a vital trace mineral that is needed for the metabolism of carbohydrates. It aids in regulating the metabolism of the body’s blood sugar and helps deter diabetes.

Chromium Benefits

Chromium has numerous health benefits aside from balancing the blood sugar levels, which include the following:

  1. Aids in the transportation of glucose into and out of the cell.
  2. Decreasing blood sugar. Chromium reduces the amount of sugar that circulates in the blood and decreases the risk of metabolic syndrome and diabetes.
  3. Decreases body fat. This trace mineral helps in improving the insulin sensitivity of the body thus, aids in reducing body fat.
  4. Decreases LDL. Chromium helps in reducing the amount of bad cholesterol that circulates in the blood.
  5. Decreases the risk of stroke and heart diseases. Chromium aids in reducing the risk of having heart attack, getting heart diseases, or having a stroke by reducing the LDL as well as the blood pressure, and raising the HDL.
  6. Increases HDL. This trace mineral helps in raising the amount of good cholesterol that circulates in the blood.
  7. Increases lead body mass. Chromium can help improve the insulin sensitivity of the body, thus aiding in increasing muscle mass.

Chromium Weight Loss

Aside from that, chromium also helps the body by means of reducing food cravings, regulating one’s hunger, and helping to protect DNA and RNA damage. This is the reason why most nutrition experts suggest patients to have a high intake of foods that are rich in chromium, as well as in other trace minerals, as these as needed in having a healthy weight loss.

Chromium Deficiency

Some of the known causes of chromium deficiency include strenuous exercise, alcoholism and malnutrition. An average persons’ diet lacks chromium and studies have shown that only one in ten Americans has sufficient amount of chromium intake. The reason for this is as follows:

  1. Individuals do not eat enough foods that are rich in chromium; these foods include romaine lettuce, oysters, ripe tomatoes and raw onions.
  2. The body cannot easily absorb chromium rich foods: only 0.4 to 2.5 percent is absorbed.
  3. Intake of too much refined sugar leads to depletion of this mineral from the body.
  4. Food processing destroys chromium.

Chromium Deficiency Symptoms

People who have a diet that is rich in flours, refined sugars, processed foods and additives, as well as those who are under extreme stress and obese are at risk of having chromium deficiency due to the fact they such factors deplete chromium from the body.

Some of the chromium deficiency symptoms include frequent hunger, dizziness, cold sweats, irritability after six hours without food, cold hands, frequent urination, addiction to sweet foods, drowsiness during the day, need for excessive sleep, and excessive thirst.

Chromium and Depression

Researchers from Cornell University found out that chromium provides major relief for depression. When the dietary imbalance of chromium is corrected in the body, this process often triggers a shift in mood. Studies have confirmed that this trace mineral is an effective anti-depressant.

Chromium also alleviates symptoms of depression that are appetite-related. As many individuals suffering from depression have uncontrollable cravings for starches and sweets.

Food sources

Chromium can be found in numerous foods such as cheese, whole-grain cereals, whole grain breads, mushrooms, oysters, rye bread, brewer’s yeast, peas, wheat germ, potatoes, eggs, chicken, green peppers, butter, apples, Swiss cheese and parsnips.

The National Institute of Health suggest that individuals who are 19 years of age and above need to consume a daily adequate intake (AI) of chromium of from 20 to 35 mcg.

Oysters chromium
Oysters are an excellent source of chromium

Chromium Supplements

Due to the fact that the trace mineral chromium cannot be produced by the body, it should be obtained from food. Having a daily dose of chromium rich foods is the most effective ways of having sufficient amount of chromium. However, for those who individuals who do not have enough time to prepare healthy foods, it is advisable to take chromium supplements in order for the body to get the necessary requirement of this mineral.

References and further reading

Oysters photograph by The Next Web; Linus Pauling Institute;  University of Maryland Medical Center;  USDA; Medline.