Chromium is an essential mineral required for optimal health. Adequate levels of chromium are required by the body to produce enzymes, proteins, fats, and cholesterol. Chromium is also a vital component of GTF, or glucose tolerance factor. Glucose tolerance factor works in concert with insulin to stabilize blood sugar levels and to support the metabolism of glucose in cells.
Currently the average American diet is low chromium. Scientists estimate that 90% of all Americans don’t get enough chromium from their diet, and that over 60% are hypogylcemin or diabetic. Chromium levels can also depleted by consuming high amounts of sugar or engaging in strenuous exercise.
A key indicator of coronary artery disease is dangerously low levels of chromium in blood plasma. Inadequate intake of chromium can impair the production of GTF, limiting insulin activity. This results in high blood sugar levels, glucose intolerance, and can lead to symptoms similar to adult-onset diabetes.
Conversely, low chromium intake can also result in hypoglycemia, a condition marked by higher than normal insulin levels and dropping blood sugar after consuming carbohydrates. In both cases, supplemental chromium can improve symptoms in most people.
Good dietary sources of chromium include: brewers yeast, whole grain breads and cereals, molasses, brown rice, cheese, and lean meats. Studies indicate the for optimal benefits adults should take between 200 to 400 micrograms per day, and up to 600 micrograms if engaged in strenuous exercise programs. Chromium supplements are available, usually in 100 to 200 microgram capsules either as niacin-bound chromium or chromium picolinate. Chromium works best if taken before meals to help stabilize blood sugar levels and increase energy output.
Blood sugar levels play a significant role in the storage and metabolism of fat. Chromium is an essential nutrient which plays an important role in the proper regulation of blood sugar in the body. Sex hormones are made from cholesterol. Cholesterol is dependent on chromium for its correct synthesis. Since chromium body stores decrease with age, it is important to replace chromium on a daily basis. In males, the organ most affected by chromium reduction due to aging are the testes.
For men who exercise or whose job entails physical exertion, the Journal of Applied Physiology reports that chromium losses are twice as high on a workout day versus a non-workout day, and increase five-fold by a six-mile run. They also demonstrated that “strenuous exercise produces increased urinary loss of chromium in trained athletes.”