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CHROMIUM: Essential Fat Control Nutrient



Chromium Deficiencies and Mechanisms Affected By Chromium

By Ann de Wees Allen, D.N.

Nine-out-of-ten Americans obtain less than the minimum amount of chromium recommended by the conservative figures of the National Research Council. The average American only consumes a mere 9-15 mcg. per day of chromium.1 The Nutrition Report states that in order to fulfill minimum requirements for chromium "It would be necessary to consume up to 5,500 calories a day to obtain even the lower end of the 50-200 mcg. of chromium considered adequate by the Food and Nutrition Board of the National Academy of Sciences.2"

Body fat mechanisms are drastically affected by insulin, and chromiums' chief role is to activate insulin. Insulin is the hormone involved in fat, carbohydrate, and protein metabolism. Insulin cannot function without chromium.3 The balance of insulin in the body is key in controlling body fat. Production of too much insulin (as in insulin spillover resulting from eating high glycemic foods) is just as deleterious to blood sugar metabolism as having low levels of insulin.4,5

Michael Rosenbaum, M.D. explains the importance of insulin and chromium in relation to Growth Hormone. "Three hormones are primarily involved with the anabolic (tissue building) processes of the body. Growth Hormone, Testosterone, and Insulin. Insulin is equal to G.H. in its ability to affect muscle growth and is para-mount in the formation of usable energy. However, Insulin is dependent upon GTF chromium which, as a cofactor, potentiates insulin activity."

Another authority on chromium, Dr. Betty Kamen, says, "One of its (chromium) main functions is to regulate sugar metabolism. Even if refined sugar is totally absent from your diet, chromium is necessary because foods are eventually reduced to simple glucose, your body's primary source of energy."6 Dr. Kamen states that chromium levels in the body affect:

The United States Department of Agriculture, Human Nutrition Research Center says: "Dietary chromium intake of most normal individuals appears to be suboptimal. Signs of marginal chromium deficiency are similar to those observed for maturity-onset diabetes and/or cardiovascular diseases. Stress, including strenuous exercise, high-sugar diets, and physical trauma, lead to increased chromium losses. Nutritional problems related to marginal chromium status appear widespread".

ACCEPTABLE FORMS OF CHROMIUM

Many chromium supplements do not contain chromium in a form the body can use efficiently. The body is unable to convert those types of chromium into the biologically active GTF (Glucose Tolerance Factor) form, which is the only form that can boost the action of insulin7.

Contrary to popular belief, chromium picolinate is not the best form of chromium. Experts agree that picolinic acid binds so tightly with chromium that it pre-vents physiological activity at the cellular level. The FDA will not list picolinic acid as GRAS (Generally Recognized As Safe). Niacin, the binding agent in chromium polynicotinate, is FDA GRAS. University of California, Davis, states that "ChromeMate [niacin-bound chromium] is absorbed and retained up to 311% better than chromium picolinate and 672% better than chromium chloride"8. Summary

The widespread tendency to consume high glycemic foods, sugars, and refined carbohydrates results in chromium loss and depletion of chromium stores. A report published in Metabolism showed that "Sustained intake of diets high in sugars and refined carbohydrates can lead to chromium GTF deficiencies".

A good diet should include a wide variety of foods, including chromium rich foods. Considering the difficulty of obtaining even the minimum amount of GTF chromium from the diet, supplementation would appear beneficial to any body type or lifestyle.

REFERENCES

  1. Williams, Biochemical Individuality
  2. E. Somer, The Nutrition Report, May 89
  3. Zinman, "The Physiologic Replacement of Insulin" New England Journal of Medicine, 321 (1989):363-70
  4. Allen, AdW. The Science of Sports Nutrition Handbook, 1st Edition, pg. 29-30. 1992
  5. W. Mertz, "Effects and Metabolism of the Glucose Tolerance Factor," Present Knowledge in Nutrition, The Nutrition Foundation, Wash. D.C. 1976
  6. Kamen, PhD., "The Chromium Diet, Supplement & Exercise Strategy, 1990
  7. McCarty, "Chromium and Insulin," Am Journal Clin Nutr 36 (1982):384
  8. Olin, K., et al, Annual Meeting of the Am. College of Nutrition, Oct. 10, 1992, Univ. of California


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