Last week I posted about the epidemic levels of Pre-diabetes and today I am following up with a mineral that is contained in sufficient foods to include on a daily basis in your diet that helps to control blood sugar levels. And in my experience help to curb sugar cravings.
Chromium is an essential trace mineral that helps the body maintain normal blood sugar levels. A deficiency of the mineral can lead to diabetes and this is where the primary research into this mineral has been directed.
Chromium first and foremost is a component of the ‘glucose tolerance factor’ which is required for maintaining a normal blood glucose balance. Chromium works with insulin to ease the absorption of blood glucose into the cells and it may also play a part in other activities that involve insulin such as the metabolism of fats and proteins.
This last activity has opened a line of research in the effect of chromium on weight loss, building muscle and decreasing body fat and has led to a lot of chromium based products being put on the market in recent years. There is no definite proof that it works although some studies do claim that in a study that people on chromium lost more body fat over three months than those who did not take it.
It is more important to look at the role of chromium as we age, as there is an increasing numbers of patients who are diagnosed with late onset diabetes. This is nearly always related to dietary deficiency and the concern is that with our current trend towards eating processed foods and excess weight are responsible as we are automatically taking in less chromium in raw and unprocessed foods.
Chromium is very easy to lose from the body in urine, sweat and if we engage in excessive physical activity without the appropriate diet. However, chromium is very easy to include in any healthy diet and should not be needed in supplement form.
Blood Pressure and Blood Sugar Levels.
There are still a number of studies looking at the effect of Chromium Picolinate on high blood pressure and the reasoning is that increased blood sugar does increase blood pressure. Additionally high levels of LDL or low density lipoprotein, which has small particles and when oxidised clumps and blocks the arteries, resulting in high blood pressure, may also be reduced by taking Chromium Picolinate. Hence the use of it in this form in supplements especially as it is more easily absorbed by our digestive tracts.
We do not manufacture or store chromium in the body so it is necessary to eat foods regularly that contain it. One concern however, is that the foods that we eat that contain chromium, might not be as rich in the mineral as they used to be. It depends on the levels of the mineral in the soil they are grown in which is variable, dependent on the area and farming methods in use.
Foods rich in dietary chromium.
Broccoli has the highest levels of chromium followed by other dark green leafy vegetables, romaine lettuce, onions and tomatoes. Wholegrains, potatoes, oysters and other seafood, liver, cheese, chicken, turkey, beef and lamb also contain. As you can see there is plenty of foods that are usually included daily in our diet but only if we are cooking from scratch. If your diet is primarily industrially produced in a packet you may not be getting the chromium you need.
Just taking a supplement is not the answer and if you are pre-diabetic. The body is used to processing foods to obtain the nutrients that it needs and the first place to start is a review of your diet.
If you have a severe sugar craving then you might then look at taking a chromium supplement to work alongside your diet. Do buy a high quality supplement as they are not all as good for you as you might think.
If you are a diabetic then you must make sure that you work with your medical advisor before taking any chromium supplement, as it will affect the dosage of any insulin you may be taking.
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