Chromium is one of the most popular nutrients purchased today, and for very good reason. It plays a vital role in human health, as well as modifying disease progression. The following is a brief outline of its history and the supporting research on its benefits.We all need to have appropriate chromium levels in our bodies.
In the 1940's, Chromuim was recognized as an important component to human and animal biochemistry. In the 1950's it was seen to play a specific role in the metabolism of fats, cholesterol and glucose. It was given the name "glucose tolerance factor" as a result of research describing its actions on glucose and insulin. There are currently over 400,000 abstracts in medical search engines on chromium, and it is one of the most researched nutrients in literature.
Chromium studies have described that it can be extremely helpful in the metabolism of sugars and fats. This is so because it has the ability to improve the insulin response and binding to the cell receptors. In this fashion it also can decrease appetite (by preventing low blood sugar episodes). Insulin helps to control blood sugar by allowing entrance into cells. It has also been cited as having antioxidant properties, benefit against depression, immune benefit and helpful in decreasing hypertension. The usual dosages are in the microgram terminology, somewhere between 200 to 600 per day.
It is extremely safe and works very well.
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Dr. Chris Calapai
Chromium treatment of depression.
Eight patients with refractory mood disorders received chromium supplements and described dramatic improvements in their symptoms and functioning. In several instances, single-blind trials confirmed specificity of response to chromium. Side-effects were rare and mild, and most commonly included enhanced dreaming and mild psychomotor activation.
To our knowledge, this is the first case series describing the response to chromium monotherapy. The putative antidepressant effects of chromium could be accounted for by enhancement of insulin utilization and related increases in tryptophan availability in the central nervous system, and/or by chromium's effects on norepinephrine release.
Chromium, Glucose Intolerance and Diabetes.
Within the last 5 years chromium (Cr) has been shown to play a role in glucose intolerance, Type 2 diabetes mellitus (Type 2 DM), and gestational diabetes. In addition, diabetes and the neuropathy of a patient on home parenteral nutrition were alleviated when supplemental Cr was added to total parenteral nutrition (TPN) solutions.
In a study conducted in China that has been supported by studies in the United States, supplemental Cr as Cr picolinate improved the blood glucose, insulin, cholesterol, and hemoglobin A1C in people with Type 2 DM in a dose dependent manner. Follow-up studies of >1 year have confirmed these studies. The requirement for Cr is related to the degree of glucose intolerance: 200 µg/day of supplemental Cr is adequate to improve glucose variables of those who are mildly glucose intolerant. However, people with more overt impairments in glucose tolerance and diabetes usually require more than 200 µg/day. Daily intake of 8 µg of Cr per kg body weight was also more effective than 4 µg/kg in women with gestational diabetes.
The mechanism of action of Cr involves increased insulin binding, increased insulin receptor number, and increased insulin receptor phosphorylation. In summary, supplemental Cr has been shown to have beneficial effects without any documented side effects on people with varying degrees of glucose intolerance ranging from mild glucose intolerance to overt Type 2 DM.
Potential Antioxidant Effects of Zinc and Chromium Supplementation in People with Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus.
Objective: To determine the effects of combined zinc (Zn) and chromium (Cr) supplementation on oxidative stress and glucose homeostasis of people with type 2 diabetes.
Design: Tunisian adult subjects with HbA1C >7.5% were supplemented for 6 months with 30 mg/d of Zn as Zn gluconate or 400 µg/d of Cr as Cr pidolate or combined Zn/Cr supplementation or placebo. The effects of supplementation on plasma zinc (Zn), copper (Cu), selenium (Se), urinary Zn, Cr, plasma thiobarbituric acid reactive substances (TBARS), Cu-Zn superoxide dismutase (SOD) and Se glutathione peroxidase (GPx) in red blood cells, blood lipids and lipoproteins, HbA1C and fasting glucose were measured at the beginning of the study and after six months.
Results: At the beginning of the study, more than 30% of the subjects may have been Zn deficient with plasma Zn values less than 10.7 µmol/L, whereas levels of plasma Cu, Se and antioxidant RBC enzyme activities were in the normal ranges. Following supplementation, there were significant decreases of plasma TBARS in the Cr (13.6%), Zn (13.6%) and Zn/Cr (18.2%) groups with no significant changes in the placebo group. The value for the TBARS of the control healthy Tunisian subjects was 2.08 ± 0.04 µmol/L and that of the Tunisian subjects with diabetes was 3.32 ± 0.05 µmol/L. This difference of 1.24 µmol/L between the control group and the subjects with diabetes was reduced from 36% to 50% in the three supplemented groups. Supplementation did not modify significantly HbA1C nor glucose homeostasis. No adverse effects of Zn supplementation were observed on Cu status, HDL cholesterol nor interactions in Zn or Cr.
Conclusions: These data suggest the potential beneficial antioxidant effects of the individual and combined supplementation of Zn and Cr in people with type 2 DM. These results are particularly important in light of the deleterious consequences of oxidative stress in people with diabetes.
Comparative Effects of Chromium, Vanadium and Gymnema Sylvestre on Sugar-Induced Blood Pressure Elevations in SHR.
Objective: Effects on systolic blood pressure (SBP) of ingesting three agents reported to influence insulin metabolism, i.e., chromium polynicotinate, bis(maltolato)oxovanadium (BMOV), and the herb, Gymnema sylvestre, were assessed simultaneously in spontaneously hypertensive rats (SHR).
Methods: In the first study, SHR were fed either a starch, sugar, or sugar diet containing chromium polynicotinate, bis(maltolato)oxovanadium (BMOV), or G. sylvestre. Tail SBP was estimated indirectly and various blood chemistries were measured. TBARS formation was determined in hepatic and renal tissue. In a second study, tail SBP was measured in SHR ingesting diets containing different concentrations of BMOV.
Results: Compared to starch, SHR consuming sucrose showed a significant elevation of SBP within days that was maintained for the duration of study. Addition of chromium polynicotinate to the sucrose diet at the beginning of study prevented the sucrose-induced elevation of SBP for 2 weeks, but SBP rose significantly after that. BMOV at high concentrations overcame the sucrose-induced rise in SBP and even decreased SBP below values seen in SHR eating the starch diet, but marked weight loss was noted. A second study examined different concentrations of BMOV. At 0.01% w/w concentration of BMOV, SBP was still significantly decreased, even though SHR did not lose body weight (BW) early on. SHR consuming G. sylvestre showed no change or even elevated SBP. Hepatic thiobarbituric acid reacting substances (TBARS) formation, an estimate of lipid peroxidation, was decreased by chromium polynicotinate and BMOV, and renal TBARS by chromium polynicotinate. Circulating cholesterol concentrations were decreased in the SHR consuming G. sylvestre.
Conclusions: Chromium decreases the portion of SBP elevated by high sucrose intake as shown previously, but high levels of sucrose ingestion can eventually overcome this. BMOV overcame sucrose-induced elevation of SBP as well as some of the "genetic hypertension." Different from chromium, this decrease was not overcome by high levels of dietary sucrose. The significant lowering of cholesterol with G. sylvestre ingestion indicates some effect on metabolism, but G. sylvestre did not lower and even raised SBP.
Effects of niacin-bound chromium supplementation on body composition in overweight African-American women.
Aim: This pilot study was designed to determine whether 600 g niacin-bound chromium ingested daily over 2 months by African-American women undergoing a modest dietary and exercise regimen influences weight loss and body composition.
Methods: Twenty overweight African-American women, engaged in a modest diet–exercise regimen, participated in a randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled, crossover study. They received placebo three times a day (t.i.d.) during the control period and niacin-bound chromium, 200 g t.i.d., during the verum period. Control and verum periods were each 2 months in duration. One-half received placebo first (group 1), the other half received chromium first (group 2). Body weights (b.w.) and blood chemistries were measured by routine clinical methodology. Fat and nonfat body masses were estimated using bioelectrical impedance (electrolipography).
Results: In the first group of 10 women receiving niacin-bound chromium after the placebo period (group 1), b.w. loss was essentially the same, but fat loss was significantly greater and non-fat body mass loss significantly less with chromium intake. In contrast to the previous findings, there was a significantly greater loss of fat in the placebo compared to the verum period in the second group of eight women who received chromium first (group 2). Blood chemistries were not affected by intake of chromium for 2 months.
Conclusions: Niacin-bound chromium given to modestly dieting-exercising African-American women caused a significant loss of fat and sparing of muscle compared to placebo. Once chromium was given at these dose levels, there was a ‘carry-over’ effect. Blood chemistries revealed no significant adverse effects from the ingestion of 600 g of niacin-bound chromium daily over 2 months.