Michael van Straten
Michael van Straten
australiaphen375.com

Chromium

Chromium is an essential trace element - a mineral that your body needs in tiny amounts. It's only really been recognised as a vital nutrient for the last 20 years or so but humans cannot survive without it. The most important function of chromium is to control the amount of sugar in your blood and it does this by affecting the production of insulin in the pancreas. Chromium is part of a highly complex chemical process which takes place in the body resulting in the formation of a biologically active substance called 'glucose tolerance factor' (GTF). Through some, as yet not understood, process GTF improves the biological efficiency of insulin making this mineral part of the body's protection against diabetes.

Chromium also plays an important part in protecting you from heart disease, as well as being a factor in the control of total cholesterol and the balance between good (HDL) and bad (LDL) cholesterols. Although chromium is widely found in many foods it's difficult to absorb and only about 0.5% of the amount consumed actually ends up in your body and an average adult contains only 1/10,000th of an ounce (6 mg) of the mineral. Although this seems a tiny amount, an adequate supply is critical for proper health, vitality and normal life expectancy.

When your body doesn't react to insulin in the expected way you develop what is known as insulin resistance. This means the insulin produced by the pancreas and circulating in your bloodstream, is not able to have its normal action in the control of blood sugar levels. This is the difference between juvenile diabetes, where patients just stop producing insulin, and adult onset or NIDD - Non-Insulin Dependent Diabetes. In this case the insulin is being produced but just doesn't work. This is when chromium deficiency is most likely to be present. Apart from a diet high in sugars and refined carbohydrates and a lifestyle which excludes exercise, it's possible that lack of chromium may also be a triggering factor in adult onset diabetes.

There's little doubt that not absorbing enough chromium from your food is an important part of the reasons for glucose intolerance, both high and low levels of blood sugar and excessive sugar in the urine. There have been many studies of chromium which show that taking chromium supplements, usually in the form of chromium picolinate, can help reduce the blood sugar levels in adult onset diabetics. Other experiments have shown these supplements to help reduce cholesterol levels overall and to specifically reduce the amount of the LDL cholesterol which is the form most likely to cause narrowing of the arteries and heart disease. Because of modern intensive farming methods the amount of chromium present in the soil is known to have declined over the last 50 years as this mineral is not replaced by synthetic fertilisers. In addition chromium is lost during food refining processes and though whole grains are a good source of chromium, over 90% is lost in the production of white flour and white rice.

The over 50s, anyone living on a diet of predominantly processed foods, diabetics, people suffering long term stress and doing regular amounts of strenuous exercise are all likely to have some deficiency of chromium. There is also increased bodily demand during pregnancy and breast feeding. Although there's no official RDA the American National Research Council suggest an intake of 50-200 micrograms as adequate for adults, bearing in mind that so little of the mineral is finally absorbed by the body. Diabetics, whether using insulin or not, should always consult their doctor before taking chromium supplements as they can interfere with the way your insulin works.

BEST SOURCES

Brewer's Yeast
112 mcg / 100 g
Percentage of daily requirement: 34% from average 2 tbsp 30 g portion
Chromium score: 3/10

Wholemeal bread
42 mcg / 100 g
Percentage of daily requirement: 63 % from 4 slices
Chromium score: 6/10

Oysters
26 mcg / 100 g
Percentage of daily requirement: 39% from average 150 g portion
Chromium score: 4/10

Beef
54 mcg /100 g
Percentage of daily requirement: 135% from a large steak
Chromium score: 10/10

Eggs
16 mcg / 100 g
Percentage of daily requirement: 48% from 3 egg omelette
Chromium score: 5/10

Sweet peppers
20 mcg / 100 g
Percentage of daily requirement: 50% from 1 large pepper stuffed with brown rice
Chromium score: 5/10

Mixed shelled nuts
47 mcg / 100 g
Percentage of daily requirement: 24% from average 50 g portion
Chromium score: 2/10

Chicken
15 mcg / 100 g
Percentage of daily requirement: 22% from average 150 g portion
Chromium score: 2/10

 

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