Since chromium is involved in biochemical reactions, it may be useful against serious diseases such as diabetes, obesity and heart disease.
Breaks down sugar
Chromium appears to boost the action of insulin which is the hormone that breaks down sugar molecules in your body. When the sugar is broken down it can then easily circulate in your bloodstream and be used by your cells to produce energy needed for everyday survival.
Researchers from the Clinical Epidemiology, Mexican Social Security Institute, in Durango, Mexico have recently examined the role that chromium and other minerals such as magnesium have on sugar metabolism. The researchers concluded that the most common cause of chromium deficiency is inadequate diet, and that the first step against diabetes and high blood sugar is to follow a proper diet rich in chromium minerals (Arch Med Res 2005;36(3): 250-7).
It is well known that smoking worsens diabetes by making it very difficult for insulin to bind to the cells. By activating the enzyme insulin receptor kinase, this essential trace mineral is able to reverse the negative effects of smoking in diabetes. The researchers concluded the study by saying that: Such an effect might be useful not only for smokers, but for others…
The dose is up to 200 micrograms daily. One particular chemical variant of ordinary chromium is called chromium picolinate. This has all the beneficial properties of chromium and it is available in tablet form which is easily absorbed from your bowel into your bloodstream.
In addition to its link with diabetes, chromium may have a role to play in obesity and weight loss. There is an acknowledged link between diabetes and obesity. Chromium has been used specifically against obesity, even in patients who are not diabetics (Curr Drug Targets CNS Neurol Disord 2004;3(5): 341-56).
The exact way this trace mineral works in this situation is not known, but many diet practitioners are recommending chromium as an aid to weight loss.
Both diabetes and obesity increase the risk of heart attack and stroke. In an experiment, doctors from the Department of Nutrition, Harvard School of Public Health in the US, measured the amount of the trace mineral present in the toenails of men aged 40-75 years, which is a good way of finding out whether someone is deficient or not, because chromium stays in toenails for long periods.
They found that men who had diabetes and heart disease had a lower concentration of this essential trace mineral compared to healthy men (Diabetes Care 2004;(9): 2211-6). The researchers implied that long-term chromium supplements may be of benefit to diabetic patients who are at risk from heart disease.
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