Chromium is a tough metal that’s best known for its lustrous shine. But did you know that it could have the same effect on your health? When your chromium levels go out of tune, your natural spark will dim and you might not even know why.
In medical terms, chromium is an essential mineral that plays a role in a whole host of your everyday functions. It’s not produced in the body, instead we rely on diet and supplements to get our levels just right. Raw chromium is stored in rocks and soil, and permeates through into foods such as yeast, potatoes and meats – it’s even in our water supply.
So, what does this wonder-metal do for my body?
Well, the short answer is that it has a bearing on all of the following body functions:
- Blood sugar and diabetes control (burns calories, decreases sugar cravings, makes insulin work more efficiently)
- Bone health (helps calcium retention, reduces bone loss and prevents osteoporosis, helps produce DHEA which is a steroid hormone)
- Weight management (aids fat loss, stimulates muscle development, increases physical endurance)
- Immune system health (boosts DHEA which protects against diseases, increases antibodies, lowers excess cortisol which is a stress hormone)
Its most important role is enabling the effective metabolisation of fats. While most research indicates a link between optimal chromium intake and healthy arteries, some studies have even identified that people who died from heart disease had reduced chromium levels at the time of death.
Chromium is crucial for insulin-signalling pathways that determine our body’s ability to control sugar intake. This balances our blood/glucose levels and keeps energy levels stable, helping you to be your normal vibrant self.
The mineral can also protect our DNA, preventing the cell mutations that can lead to chronic disease, and chromium is also associated with longevity because of its role in metabolising fats, proteins, carbs and other nutritional compounds.
8 warning signs that you’re chromium deficient
Finding out that you’re deficient can be a tricky task, with many of the warning signs typically being put down to age or stress. These are the eight warning signs that you shouldn’t ignore:
- Elevated insulin levels or high blood sugar, or impaired glucose tolerance
- Bone weakening
- Low energy/fatigue, low concentration and poor memory
- Poor skin and/or eye health
- Mood changes and increased anxiety
- Changes in appetite or weight
- Increased injury healing time (e.g. wounds or post-surgery)
If you’re displaying any of these signs for a protracted period of time, speak to an expert in restorative medicine to find out how you can retune to your mineral balance.
What are the long-term effects of chromium deficiency?
It could increase your chances of becoming glucose-intolerant or insulin-resistant. Either of these would increase your likelihood of developing diabetes.
It could result in weight gain as you’d become unable to metabolise insulin. It also plays a role in hunger and carbohydrate cravings that is not yet fully understood.
It would leave you feeling permanently fatigued and unable to think straight.
Skin and eye health
Chromium deficiency is likely to result in the onset of skin conditions such as acne. If the deficiency leads to the onset of diabetes, your chances of getting glaucoma would also increase.
Chromium helps your body to retain calcium, preventing osteoporosis. A deficiency could make bones brittle, and is most prevalent amongst menopausal or postmenopausal women. If supplementing chromium, magnesium and vitamin D are also needed, to assist calcium absorption into your bones.
How to restore and maintain chromium levels naturally
Recommended chromium levels vary depending on your age, gender, weight, fitness and general health. If undertaking a course of restorative medicine, practitioners generally recommend a dosage between 50 and 200 micrograms daily, although a higher dosage can be used to treat a specific illness.
Here’s a breakdown of recommended chromium levels for demographics to get you started:
|Teenagers (14 – 18 years)||35 micrograms (boys), 24 micrograms (girls)|
|Adults (19 – 50 years)||35 micrograms (boys), 25 micrograms (girls)|
|Pregnant/breastfeeding women||30 micrograms|
There are two main ways to ensure that your levels remain balanced for optimal health; diet and supplements. Many everyday foods contain chromium, so don’t go throwing out all your recipe books just yet. Here’s some of the top performers:
|Broccoli||Pork chops (organic)|
|Grapes||Calf’s liver (organic)|
|Potatoes||Oysters, lobster tail|
|Grass-fed Beef||Pork chops (organic)|
|Red Wine, Beer||Spinach, cabbage|
Up to 90% of the chromium content found in food is lost in food processing, so foods should be eaten unprocessed and, most likely, together with chromium supplementation.
Supplements are another great way to boost your chromium intake. The body struggles to absorb chromium by itself, so nutritional experts recommend taking a product which combines it with protein picolinate, to enable better entry into the bloodstream. Picolinate also increases the absorption of zinc, copper and iron.
Finding balance with your chromium levels can do so much to improve your health. And, once you know how, with some medical advice it can be easy to achieve. Whether you’ve become chromium deficient through heavy exercise, antacid use, a high carbohydrate diet or overdosing on refined sugar, or just through depletion in the ageing process, simply stick to these dietary and nutritional pointers, and you can rediscover the real you!