Everybody needs a mineral, known as chromium, for overall good health. As it assists in crucial bodily functions, such as providing cells with blood sugar, a chromium deficiency can result in dangerous symptoms. Therefore, it is important for everyone to become familiar with what chromium is, why it is necessary to the body’s normal functioning and the most common food sources from which it can be obtained.
Chromium Nutritional Benefits
Chromium is essential for providing blood sugar to the body’s cells, as well as for converting these sugars into energy that the body can use. As such, it often increases the body’s sensitivity to insulin. Another of its chief functions is helping the body burn fat and carbohydrates. Chromium is also believed to be important for protein production.
It should be noted that vitamins B and C, as well as niacin help in the body’s healthy absorption of chromium.
Chromium has the following health benefits:
- Slows the aging process
- Increase insulin activity
- Helps metabolize fat
- Helps metabolize protein
- Helps metabolize carbohydrates
Symptoms of Deficiency
Though chromium deficiencies are rare, when they do occur, severe symptoms may develop. Those who have developed a deficiency of chromium typically have an increased need for insulin due to the fact that the body is no longer able to use glucose to meet its need for energy. Because of this, a common symptom of chromium deficiency is type 2 diabetes.
Other signs of deficiency include:
- Glucose intolerance
- Bipolar disease
- Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)
- Learning disabilities
- Aortic cholesterol plaque
- Coronary blood vessel disease
- High triglycerides
- High cholesterol
- Peripheral neuropathy
- Decreased sperm count
- Impaired growth
Because chromium is such a vital mineral for optimal health and in treating diabetes, it is a common ingredient in intravenous solutions used in hospital treatments.
Chromium is commonly found in meats, vegetables, fruits, spices and whole-grain foods. However, foods high in simple sugars, such as fructose and sucrose, are low in chromium. Some of the best sources of chromium are:
- Brown rice
- Grape juice
- Chicken (breast and leg portions)
- Corn oil
- Brewer’s yeast
- Dairy products
- Black strap molasses
- Whole wheat English muffins
- Dried garlic
- Calves’ liver
- Mashed potatoes
- Turkey (breast meat)
- Dried Basil
- Whole grain foods
- Red wine
- Orange juice
- Green beans
Specific herbal sources of chromium include:
Some medications do not interact well with chromium supplementation. The following are commonly believed to impair the body’s ability to absorb chromium absorption:
- H2 blockers
- Proton-pump inhibitors
Also, chromium polynicotinate, an ingredient in some soft drinks and commonly touted as an effective weight loss solution, may not be as effective as natural food sources for chromium. In fact, although rare, supplemental forms of chromium polynicotinate are believed to be responsible in a few isolated instances of kidney failure and liver impairments. Therefore, people with previous liver or kidney ailments should not take chromium polynicotinate supplements for weight loss, nor should they consume soft drinks containing this ingredient without first consulting with a trusted health care professional.
The benefits of chromium picolinate, another supplemental form of chromium, is that it is considered to be a form that is quite easy for the body to absorb. However, as noted earlier, eating chromium rich foods in tandem with foods that are high in vitamins B and C offer tremendous help to the body for the proper absorption of chromium. In preferring natural forms over supplemental forms when possible, people can avoid the dangers of chromium picolinate, such as kidney failure or a conflict with the medications detailed above.
In natural cures and home remedies, chromium is often used to treat type 2 diabetes, as well as other ailments detailed above. Because a deficiency of this mineral is so dangerous, it is advised that proper precautions be taken to avoid it. This includes a focus on a healthy diet including chromium-rich foods and avoiding processed foods, packaged foods, fast foods, white sugar, white flour and other unhealthy foods, which tend to satisfy one’s hunger, but offer little to no nutritional value. Combined with proper exercise, restful sleep and a focus on a positive mental state, the holistic health strategies detailed here can go a long way in helping one avoid the symptoms associated with a chromium deficiency.