A 2007 Harvard article described chromium as a ‘forgotten mineral’ that lost popularity despite its enormous therapeutic benefits. Required mainly to maintain healthy sugar levels and fat metabolism, chromium has a laundry list of health benefits that are backed by new studies.
Chromium boosts nutrient absorption in the bloodstream, which facilitates the growth process in pre-teens and young adults. For starters, it can be particularly helpful to people with type 1 and 2 diabetes and insulin resistance. Safe estimated values of dietary intake for chromium supplements are between 50 to 200 micrograms.
So what precisely can chromium do for you?
Benefits of Chromium You Should Know About
1) Healthy Levels of Cholesterol
All the LDL cholesterol is absorbed into the stomach lining and it enters your bloodstream, flowing inside blood vessels and arteries. This places a burden on the body’s metabolic rate and creates an ecosystem that facilitates various chronic diseases. Chromium systematically breaks down this fat and prevents it from accumulating in the body.
Chromium maintains a healthy metabolic rate that breaks down fat efficiently. A study conducted over a 42-day period showed that patients were able to reduce their cholesterol levels by consuming chromium supplements.
2) Cardiovascular Health
Chromium helps the cardiovascular system by lowering cholesterol and clearing up the arteries and blood vessels of fat. A 2004 study published in Diabetes Care established a link between cardiovascular disease and low chromium levels. Although the study didn’t mention the exact specifics of why chromium was important, it drew from a data of over 1200 volunteers.
3) Improves Cognitive Function
Although this finding was reported by a marketer of chromium-based nutritional supplements, the double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled clinical findings were an insight into the far reaching effects of chromium on the brain itself. The study found that consuming 1000mcg of chromium as chromium picolinate helped older adults improve their memory function and slow cognitive decline.
The group taking chromium supplements performed better at cognitive tasks that involved understanding information.
4) Weight Loss
Chromium has been shown to play an important role in maintaining healthy body weight and keeping one satiated for a longer period of time. This was indicated in a 2004 study conducted by John P. Docherty, an adjunct professor of psychiatry at Cornell University. He studied 113 patients and divided them into groups of two – one with chromium supplements, the second received only placebo pills.
He found that the former were able to reduce their carbohydrate carvings by a factor of 2 when compared to the placebo group.
A similar study observed hunger and cravings in healthy overweight women and conclusively found that chromium reduced their food intake.
5) Maintain Bone Deficiency
Chromium can slow the loss of calcium and retain bone density. This is particularly useful in women going through menopause and osteoporosis. By increasing their chromium intake, women can benefit from long-term bone health and stay healthy at an old age.
6) Healthy Vision
Chromium maintains the function of the ciliary muscles, which make it easier for the eyes to focus. People with chromium deficiency are at risk of experiencing nearsightedness and developing cataracts.
By lowering the blood sugar levels, chromium can reduce the accumulation of fluids in the eye, which pressurize delicate nerves and lead to blindness.
How Safe Is Chromium?
Chromium is perfectly safe to consume as long as you don’t take excessive amounts. You should restrict your intake of chromium supplements because excessive levels can lead to low blood sugar and stomach problems. You should always consult your doctor before taking chromium as a dietary supplement or combining it with your conventional medical treatment.
Signs of Chromium Deficiency
An estimated 20 to 50 percent of the population in developed countries like the US is deficient in trace minerals. This condition has gotten worse with the steady introduction of fast food diet into their daily diet. Chromium deficiency leads to an increase in metabolic and diabetes syndrome. People going through it are likely to experience high levels of anxiety and fatigue.
Deficiency in chromium has been linked with a sudden rise in anxiety levels. You might experience anxiousness, lightheadedness. Doing light exercise causes the heart to start racing. This happens because the body loses its ability to control anxiety as chromium levels fall below. It is not unheard of for people with low chromium levels to experience mood swings.