There is the plant kingdom, the animal kingdom, and what scientists also call the mineral kingdom.
It is interesting how the three interact in a highly intimate level; one truly cannot exist without another. Both the plant and
animal kingdoms rely on minerals for the essence of life and the continuation thereof--minerals provide the cellular structural
and functional support. George Redmon, Ph.D., N.D., writes in his latest book, Minerals: What Your Body Really Needs and
Why, that, "Nature furnishes optimum quantities of each mineral in the cells so that minimal amounts of
energy are needed to keep the levels constant; however, factors such as poor soil quality and poor lifestyle habits make
maintaining these blood mineral levels difficult. Any quantity less than optimum would eventually lead to a deficiency state and
to cellular malfunction."
Chromium (symbol: Cr) was discovered in another mineral known as crocoite, according to Alexander Schauss, Ph.D., author of
Minerals, Trace Elements and Human Health. Most chromium that is mined now is acquired from chromite, he added.
Chromium exists in nature in two forms: hexavalent and trivalent-- the former is used in industry and it is toxic to humans;
the latter, however, is a nutritional and extremely low toxic form. Trivalent chromium is an essential trace mineral that the human body
requires in small amounts.
Chromium often appears on labels as a special form: chromium picolinate features
chromium combined with a chelating agent, picolinate, which is said to dramatically increase absorption of the elemental mineral. It is also included
in formulas as chromium polynictinate, which is chromium bound with niacin; a study conducted at the Linus Pauling Institute of Science and Medicine has found
that this particular form was highly effective in maintaining both insulin and blood glucose levels when compared with other chromium forms.
Helping Insulin To Work Better Chromium is important for life in that it is a required co-factor (partner) for all of the actions exerted by insulin, a hormone.
Insulin acts mainly to direct food and nutrients found within to liver, muscle and fat cells-- under normal healthy conditions.
Schauss writes, "Traces of chromium have been shown to be required for health as part of the glucose tolerance factor (GTF), involved
in the regulation of blood glucose. The brain has high requirements for blood glucose as a fuel. The amount of chromium in foods decreases with processing. The
widespread tendency toward increased consumption of highly processed foods, particularly refined sugar, which stimulates urinary losses of chromium, may result in a marginal
intake of chromium and depletion of tissue chromium stores."
When body tissues become resistant to insulin, pointed out Redmon, the small amounts of the body goes into overproduction of insulin to
coax the tissues to overcome their resistance. "The classic example of this resistance is diabetes," he writes. "Chromium helps insulin to perform its functions effectively, in order
to help the body function effectively.
Anderson R.A. (Nutrition, 15: 720-722 1999) explained that medical science has known for several decades that chromium is involved in the control of
glucose and lipid metabolism. Addition of chromium to the total parenteral nutrition fluids ( a method of delivery) of a patient displaying life threatening signs and symptoms
of diabetes that were refractory to insulin resulted in the reversal of diabetic symptoms. Anderson pointed out that exogenous insulin requirements decreases to zero
following chromium supplementation with a normalizing of blood glucose. In recent years, chromium has been demonstrated to play a positive role in Type II diabetes mellitus,
gestational diabetes, steroid-induced diabetes and glucose tolerance. Chromium supplementation therefore exerts beneficial effects on individuals with varying degrees of glucose intolerance,
and the mineral in supplementary form can also reduce the amount of insulin required for those with diabetes. Chromium has not been shown to exert any side-effects, so safety is
Earl Mindell, in his book, Earl Mindell's Supplement Bible, writes that not only has chromium been proven to lower the level of low-density lipoprotein (LDL)
cholesterol, it increases the beneficial high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, which makes this mineral a good protector against heart disease.
Schauss writes that, "The long-term effects of sub-optimal intake of chromium has been related to: a decrease in tissue chromuim
associated with aging; and an increase in the incidence of diabetes and atherosclerosis,particularly in industrialized countries."
Chromium also helps ease hypertension, another element leading to heart disease and adverse cardiac events. According to Preuss, et al., in Nephrology (47: 325-330 1997),
dietary trivalent chromium has significant beneficial effects on the insulin system. Preuss and his colleagues confirmed that chromium supplementation can overcome sucrose-induced blood pressure elevation in
spontaneously hypertensive rats. In 1995 (Clinical Nephrology, 44: 17-177), Preuss, et al., have suggested that essential
hypertension may be due to insulin perturbations and high-dose chromium supplementation.
According to Lefavi, et al., (Nutrition Research, 13: 239-249, 1993), and Abraham, et al., (J. Clin. Nut., 33: 2294-2298, 1980), numerous animal experiments have shown
that chromium can prevent and even reverse atherosclerosis. In rats, for example, chromium deficiency has been shown to increase serum cholesterol levels and formation of aortic plaques.
However, adding chromium to the diet prevented both the formation of aortic plaques and the rise of serum cholesterol. Other animal experiments have shown that high-sucrose, chromium-deficient diets are linked with
causing severe atherosclerosis, which is wholly preventable with a dietary chromium supplement. Abraham et al. reported that rabbits on a high-cholesterol diet followed with chromium demonstrated a significant regression of atherosclerotic
plaques, while rabbits without chromium in their diets showed no improvement. Therefore, research has concluded, a strong association exists between chromium deficiency, high blood insulin and elevated blood cholesterol levels.
Yet another attractive attribute of chromium is its ability to assist in weight management and physique-shaping efforts. Mindell writes, "Dieters and bodybuilders are excited
about chromium because of recent studies showing that this mineral can help trim fat and build muscle. In one study conducted at Bemidji State University in Minnesota,
one group of male athletes took 200 mcg. daily, and another group took a placebo. After six weeks, the men taking chromium gained 44 percent more lean body mass, whereas the gain in the
placebo group was only seven percent."
He added that several other studies demonstrated that chromium alone can trigger the body to lose weight. At one San Antonio, TX-based weight loss center, overweight volunteers were given chromium supplements
and placebo for an average of 72 days-- and were not given any diet rules to follow nor instructed to engage in an exercise regiment. Mindell reported that individuals when taking chromium lost an average of 4.2 fat pounds and gained 1.4 pounds
in lean mass during the study period. Yet, when they were taking the placebo, "changes in body composition were negligible. This meant that chromium picolinate could burn fat and enhance muscle even without exercise or a special diet," he wrote.
As you can see, chromium is truly beneficial to the body, and essential to health.
This article is reprinted with permission from Vitamin Retailer magazine and is provided for educational purposes only by your local retailer. No part of this
article is intended as medical advice. Always consult your health care provider for any medical problems.