WHAT IS CHROMIUM?
Chromum is a micromineral (or trace element) that helps control levels of blood glucose, insulin and cholesterol in the body. It was discovered in 1797 by the French scientist Louis-Nicolas Vauquelin. In this article I will be discussing chromium in greater detail.
WHEN WAS CHROMIUM DISCOVERED?
Chromium was first recognised as part of the mineral Siberian red lead which was discovered by the German mineralogist Johann Gottlob Lehmann in 1766. Scientists were unsure of what new elements Siberian red lead contained because it had a form and colour they had never seen before. Studying this mineral was very difficult because miners struggled to extract it so only small amounts were available for scientists to examine.
In 1797 a French scientist named Louis-Nicolas Vauquelin began studying Siberian red lead. He discovered a new element which he described as “a new metal, possessing properties entirely unlike those of any other metal”. In 1798 he managed to isolate a small sample of this metal by heating charcoal with a chromium trioxide (a compound of chromium found in Siberian red lead). It was later named chromium following suggestions by two French chemists Antoine Francois de Fourcroy and René-Just Haüy.
HOW DOES YOUR BODY USE CHROMIUM?
The human body contains about 2 milligrams (mg) of chromium which is stored in very small amounts in the bones, liver, soft tissues and spleen. As I mentioned at the beginning of this article, chromium helps the body regulate levels of blood glucose, insulin and cholesterol. This makes it a very useful nutrient for people suffering from diabetes The list below outlines the main functions of chromium in more detail:
– Assisting in the metabolism of carbohydrates, dietary fats and proteins.
– Assisting in the metabolism of nucleic acids (which are the building blocks of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) and ribonucleic acid (RNA)).
– Boosting the immune system by enhancing the ability of white blood cells to fight infection.
– Controlling blood glucose levels by increasing the effectiveness of insulin (a hormone that allows your body’s cells to take glucose from the blood).
– Controlling the release of insulin (which allows for better blood glucose control).
– Keeping the arteries soft and supple.
– Maintaining normal blood cholesterol levels (by breaking down cholesterol).
HOW MUCH CHROMIUM DO YOU NEED?
Our need for chromium increases as we get older. Adequate intake (AI) levels for this nutrient were established by the National Academy of Sciences in 2001 and are listed below:
– Children aged 0-6 months:- 0.0002mg.
– Children aged 7-12 months:- 0.0055mg.
– Children aged 1-3 years:- 0.011mg.
– Children aged 4-8 years:- 0.015mg.
– Men aged 9-13 years:- 0.025mg.
– Men aged 14-50 years:- 0.035mg.
– Men aged 51 years and over:- 0.03mg.
– Women aged 9-13 years:- 0.021mg.
– Women aged 14-18 years:- 0.024mg.
– Women aged 19-50 years:- 0.025mg.
– Women aged 51 years and over:- 0.02mg.
– Pregnant women aged 14-18 years:- 0.029mg.
– Pregnant women aged 19-50 years:- 0.03mg.
– Lactating women aged 14-18 years:- 0.044mg.
– Lactating women aged 19-50 years:- 0.045mg.
WHICH FOODS CONTAIN CHROMIUM?
Chromium can be sourced from a wide variety of foods. Below are five of the best chromium rich foods:
– Beef:- 0.057mg per 100g.
– Cheese:- 0.056mg per 100g.
– Egg Yolk:- 0.183mg per 100g.
– Liver:- 0.055mg per 100g.
– Whole Grain Bread:- 0.045mg per 100g.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF GETTING TOO MUCH CHROMIUM?
At present there are no reported side effects associated with consuming high levels of chromium.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF NOT GETTING ENOUGH CHROMIUM?
Since chromium plays a key role in controlling blood glucose, insulin and cholesterol, not getting enough has a direct impact in these areas. The symptoms of deficiency are listed below:
– High blood glucose levels.
– High blood pressure.
– High triglyceride levels (which can indicate poor heart health).
– Hyperinsulinemia (high blood levels of insulin).
– Increased low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels (a type of cholesterol that clogs your artery walls and can lead to heart disease).
– Insulin resistance (a condition where your body’s cells become less receptive to insulin).
– Reduced high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol levels (a type of cholesterol that removes LDL cholesterol from the body).
As you can see chromium is a key nutrient for controlling blood levels of cholesterol, glucose and insulin. In doing this chromium helps reduce your risk of diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure. So if you are not currently eating enough of this important nutrient make some changes today and start adding some chromium rich foods to your diet.
Now I want to hear your thoughts. Were you aware of these chromium benefits? Do you currently get enough each day? Let me know by leaving a comment.
Chromium (Chemistry Explained)
Chromium in Diet Nutrition (The New York Times)
Chromium Effects (Natural Health Information Centre)
Functions of Chromium in the Body (Hubpages)