Chromium is a trace element needed by the human body to maintain good health. It is a metal originally discovered in France in the late 1700s but was not considered to be a nutrient until the 1960’s. Currently it is mixed with nicotinate (a form of the B complex vitamin niacin) for use in nutritional supplements. It is also commonly found in the form of chromium picolinate.
There are five primary benefits of chromium.
Chromium helps to regulate blood sugar especially in those with type 2 diabetes.
It aids in carbohydrate metabolism
Reduces food cravings
Helps to prevent hypertension
Assists in the regulation of fat and cholesterol
In addition, trials are being conducted regarding chromium and its relation to memory loss and possible treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.
Chromium may increase the heart rate in those with slow heartbeat and appears to be able to protect from cellular damage as well as ward off infections. Research has shown that while chromium does not affect blood pressure, it does increase blood flow and promote relaxation of the blood vessels.
In patients with diabetes supplemental chromium intake may help to improve blood sugar levels. This effect was found to lower blood sugar levels only in those individuals with type 2 diabetes. In non-diabetics there was no change in blood sugar levels.
There are recent studies that chromium may be helpful in treating depression. Preliminary results indicate that chromium was of benefit to those with depression, eating disorders and food cravings. Treatment of seasonal affective disorders with chromium is showing promising results.
High cholesterol is a significant risk factor for cardiovascular disease. The most commonly prescribed treatment for this is one of the many cholesterol reducing medications. Aside from the numerous negative side effects of prescription medication, some can be quite costly
LDL, or low density lipoprotein (also known as “bad cholesterol) is particularly difficult to reduce. Researchers found that that chromium when combined with grape seed extract had a significant effect in reducing LDL cholesterol levels as well as levels of total cholesterol. HDL levels appear to increase a small amount and triglycerides were unaffected.
It was observed that the combination of these two substances worked in conjunction to lower total LDL cholesterol. It was also determined that the Chromium/grape seed combination can decrease total cholesterol as well as elicit a decrease in the circulating autoantibodies that helped to oxidize the LDL in the blood stream.
As always consult with your health care practitioner before taking supplements.