Chromium is an essential trace mineral that plays an important role in our bodies’ normal carbohydrate metabolism — a process of converting the foods we eat into sugars. Chromium aids insulin, a natural hormone that’s released in response to eating carbohydrates, in properly “shuttling” these sugars into cells to be stored as energy.

Summary

Regardless of its history as a highly touted “fat-loss agent,” chromium’s recently been favored by the scientific community for its impressive role in proper carbohydrate metabolism and its potential to help keep blood sugar levels “in check.” Nearly one-quarter of Americans experience the effects of chromium deficiency, which result in low blood sugar or insulin resistance, and have experienced the unwanted feelings of anxiety, physical fatigue, and mental lethargy that come with it. Deficiencies of this vital mineral have become the center of attention for contributing factors to such epidemics as insulin resistance (diabetes), obesity, and hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).
Science

Why athletes use Chromium
Body processes and basically life itself rely on our ability to supply energy to our cells. Chromium helps us perform this complex process, called metabolism, much more efficiently. This popular nutrient may not be the miracle fat-loss nutrient some proclaim; nonetheless, it is critical to the proper functioning of insulin in our bodies and may benefit anyone who wants to keep their blood sugar and hormone levels “in check” — which does aid in helping to maintain and/or improve bodyweight.

Ways that Chromium can enhance energy and endurance
◦As an “insulin potentiator,” assist the body in efficiently metabolizing carbohydrates
◦Improve glucose regulation and tolerance, helping maintain “normal,” healthy blood sugar levels
◦Indirectly help produce energy, in the form of ATP, by helping insulin “shuttle” glucose (blood sugar) into muscle cells

Healthy Metabolism

A properly working metabolism is essential for active, healthy living and peak performance. The foods we eat — carbohydrates, proteins, and fats — are the raw materials for the energy we need to stay active. When we eat, our bodies quickly convert carbohydrates into a simple sugar called glucose. This sugar is the essential energy source for all our cells. Once glucose enters a cell, it’s instantly converted into a “power-packed” source of stored energy.

But, when this metabolic process slows down or becomes less efficient, or our cells become resistant to insulin, a myriad of complications can begin to develop, such as diabetes, obesity, hypoglycemia, and various heart conditions, to name only a few. If too many sugars are left “floating” in our bloodstreams, along with insulin, our bodies respond with hormone irregularly, fatigue, anxiety (symptoms of hypoglycemia), and even increased fat storage. For these reasons, it’s imperative to avoid a chromium deficiency.

How it works

Although it’s not clear exactly “how” chromium helps regulate blood sugar, a few theories are worth exploring.

One suggests chromium binds both to insulin and the cell to use or attract blood sugar more efficiently. In other words, chromium possibly helps insulin “do its job,” sort of as an insulin-potentiator, and helps it properly store these sugars as “reserved energy.”

Another theory suggests chromium may decrease the rate of extraction of insulin and improve glucose tolerance. Which means it helps allow insulin and glucose to work together more efficiently. It was found in studies that glucose tolerance could be restored in chromium-deficient patients once they were given a diet rich in chromium.

In addition, proper control of blood sugar may help prevent hardening of the arteries and the detriments associated with this condition. Some studies have even demonstrated chromium’s potential ability to increase HDL (the good cholesterol), while lowering overall cholesterol levels.

Research

Chromium: An Essential Part of our Diet
Research shows that chromium is an essential part of our diet. It can have many beneficial results when supplemented. It enhances insulin’s effect in the body, improving the uptake of glucose, thereby causing better blood circulation and maintenance of blood sugar level. Evidence also supports chromium’s ability as a cholesterol and atherosclerosis fighter. Gaining energy, burning fat, and building muscle with greater ease are attributed to chromium, to name a few. It assists the body in losing weight by helping it to build muscle to replace fat. Lowering body fat and increasing lean body mass are just a few of the positive properties that chromium exhibits on the body. Research shows that supplementation also has some age slowing effects and therefore can increase the life span!
Benefits

◦Anabolism
◦Glucose uptake
◦Insulin regulation
◦Fat metabolism
References

1. NIH Office of Dietary Supplements: Chromium
2. Obesity: Chromium Alleviates Glucose Intolerance, Insulin Resistance, and Hepatic ER Stress in Obese Mice
3. Diabetes Technology and Therapeutics: Clinical Studies on Chromium Picolinate Supplementation in Diabetes Mellitus–A Review
4. Pharmacological Reports: Effects of Chromium Picolinate on Vascular Reactivity and Cardiac Ischemia-Reperfusion Injury in Spontaneous Hypertensive Rats
5. MedLine Plus: Chromium
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