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Chromium Food Sources, Chromium: Diabetes & Weight Loss

Written by Diet Bites

Including Recommended Daily Allowances for Chromium, Possible Interactions with Medications


With consumer sales for chromium supplements well into the millions, much controversy surrounds this vital body mineral. 

Can chromium supplements work in treating diabetes? Can chromium supplements lower the body's percentage of fat thus generating weight loss while improving body composition? Can they assist in lowering blood lipid levels?

To determine such, we must first examine the roll that chromium plays in each.

It's important to keep in mind that chromium studies are tricky because of the difficulty in determining the current stored chromium levels within the body via blood, hair and urine samples - coupled with the ability of controlling the daily diet of subjects involved in studies in regards to the foods influencing chromium levels - as well as factors influencing diabetes, blood lipid levels and those that contribute to weight gain/weight loss/weight maintenance.

Chromium & Diabetes

In Type 2 Diabetes, when a chromium deficiency is involved, the body's ability to utilize glucose to meet energy needs is impaired.

Blood Lipid Levels

Although the effects of chromium supplements remain inconclusive, some studies involving 150 mcg to 1,000 mcg of daily chromium supplementation resulted in a decrease in LDL cholesterol (commonly referred to as bad cholesterol), with increases in HDL (good) cholesterol levels.

Weight Loss

Claims exist that chromium can reduce fat in the body while increasing lean muscle mass. Multiple studies in which 200 mcg to 1,000 mcg of chromium supplements in the form of chromium picolinate were given daily resulted in producing conflicting results - with some studies indicating no significant benefits and others indicating small benefits in regards to weight loss.

What foods provide chromium?

In the body, the hormone insulin is vital to the metabolism as well as in the storage of carbohydrates, fats and proteins. Chromium has been found to enhance the actions of insulin. As with any vitamin or mineral, the body's ultimate source comes from food.

Although chromium is prevalent within the food supply, the amount in most foods is minimal - less than 2 mcg's (micrograms) per serving.

Good sources of chromium include meats, whole grains, fruits, vegetables and some spices. Foods containing simple sugars such as fructose and sucrose tend to be low in chromium.

Foods Containing Chromium Chromium (mcg)

Apple, medium size with peeling on

1

Banana, 1 medium

1

Red Wine, 5 ounces

1-13

Green Beans, cup

1

Basil, dried, 1 tablespoon

2

Orange Juice, 1 cup

2

Whole Wheat Bread, 2 slices

2

Turkey Breast, 3 ounces

2

Beef Cubes, 3 ounces

2
Foods High in Chromium, Best Food Sources Chromium (mcg)

Potatoes, mashed, 1 cup

3

Garlic, dried, 1 teaspoon

3

English Muffin, whole wheat

4

Grape Juice, 1 cup

8

Broccoli, cup

11

Recommended Chromium Daily Intake

Chromium forms available include: chromium chloride, chromium nicotinate, chromium picolinate, high-chromium yeast, and chromium citrate.

Due to difficulty of determining chromium stores/levels within the body as well as the effectiveness of different forms of chromium supplements, it's not clear-cut as to which form of chromium is most effective. Chromium supplement doses generally range from 50 mcg to 200 mcg per day.

Males - Daily Recommended Intake:

Males age 19-50 require 35 mcg per day.
Males over 50 require 30 mcg  per day.

Females - Daily Recommended Intake:

Females age 19-50 require 25 mcg per day.
Females over 50 require 20 mcg per day.
 
Because adverse side effects to high levels of chromium are few, a maximum daily intake for chromium has not been established by the Institute of Medicine. However, because controversy exists on the safety and effectiveness of supplements, an individual should always seek their doctor's advice first - as should be before taking any dietary supplement.
 
Supplements may interact with medications by precipitating an increase or decrease in the absorption properties as follows:
Medication Nature of interaction

Antacids

Corticosteroids

H2 Blockers (such as cimetidine, famotidine, nizatidine, and rantidine)

Proton-Pump Inhibitors (such as omeprazole, lansoprazole, rabeprazole, pantoprazole, and esomeprazole)

Antacids, Corticosteroids, H2 Blockers and Proton-Pump Inhibitors alter stomach acidity and may impair chromium absorption and/or enhance excretion.

Beta-Blockers (such as atenolol or propanolol)

Corticosteroids

Insulin

Nicotinic Acid

Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS)

Prostaglandin Inhibitors (such as ibuprofen, indomethacin, naproxen, piroxicam, and aspirin)

Beta-blockers, Corticosteroids, Insulin, Nicotinic Acid, Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs and Prostaglandin Inhibitors may produce enhanced effects when taken with chromium and/or increase chromium absorption.

Diet Bites Hypothesis: Because insulin may enhance or impair the absorption of chromium, the Insulin Effect rather than the Chromium Effect appears to be the chief stabilization factor in controlling blood sugar levels. Further health benefits can be obtained when individuals on insulin embrace a healthy diet which includes foods rich in chromium, such as broccoli. Diet Bites also retains the firm belief that minerals and vitamins should be obtained from natural foods for optimum health benefits.

Using Food Combining to Enhance Benefits

Excess chromium is stored by the body in the bones, liver, spleen and soft tissues. Because the absorption of chromium within the digestive track is low, enhancement of chromium can be accomplished via food combining.

Vitamin C and Niacin are two powerhouses when it comes to chromium enhancement. Foods high in Vitamin C power include: fruit juices, fruits & vegetables. Foods high in Niacin power include: meats including poultry & fish, and whole grains. Checking food labels can assist greatly in the Vitamin C/Niacin search.

Loss Within the Body, Including Chromium Deficiency

It's important to note that chromium deficiencies in humans are rare. However, the following conditions can create a situation in which chromium is secreted or lost from the body: pregnancy, physical trauma, extreme stress, a diet high in simple sugars, excessive exercise, and infection.

A chromium deficiency is difficult to diagnose because medical tests involving blood, urine and hair levels are not reflective of the amount of chromium that may be currently stored within the body.

In Summary

Although there is no doubt that the mineral chromium is vital to the overall health of the body, much controversy remains as to the validity surrounding chromium supplements and the degree of their healthy benefits to the human body.

The best source for chromium remains in the consumption of foods high in chromium such as broccoli and grape juice.

In general, women tend to consume ample levels of chromium in their daily diet while men consume below-minimum levels in their daily diet. Given such, by opting for foods rich in this mineral, men may achieve health benefits.

Should you have questions relating to chromium or supplements, please speak with your doctor.

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