Your body needs and uses chromium for certain processes every day. Although you don’t need a lot of chromium in your diet, you do need to make sure you get your RDI. Chances are, however, you’re chromium deficient. Most American diets are lacking in chromium. The problem is that chromium is not easily absorbed into your body. Also, chromium is found in foods that often don’t make it onto people’s grocery lists. And processed foods are no help, because chromium is lost when foods are refined.
That’s a shame, because chromium is actually a very important player in the metabolism of glucose. Chromium can be a huge boost to your health, when you consider that there are 18.2 million people in the U.S. alone that suffer from diabetes. And, for elderly Americans, the statistics are even more alarming: one out of every five will get the disease. Diabetes can cause some pretty awful complications, like kidney failure, blindness, and nerve damage.
For people actually diagnosed with diabetes, glucose is not transferred and used by their cells. Instead, the glucose builds up in their bloodstream causing hyperglycemia. Diabetics, either Type 1 or Type 2, usually resort to insulin shots to regulate their blood glucose and avoid constant symptoms of high or low blood sugar. If you are diabetic, (or non-diabetic, for that matter), making sure you get enough chromium in your diet could prevent the need for ever having to use insulin shots.
How does chromium play a role in blood sugar control? It acts as a regulator and allows your body to use insulin more efficiently. Insulin is a hormone made by special cells called beta cells inside your pancreas. Every time you eat, beta cells release insulin to help the body use the blood glucose it gets from the food you eat. In Type 1 diabetes, the pancreas doesn’t make insulin and the beta cells have been destroyed. Type 2 diabetics make insulin, but the body does not use it efficiently. So chromium — especially in Type 2 diabetics — could help improve this efficiency problem.
In a recent study, researchers looked at a number of clinical trials to assess the ability of chromium to help the body use insulin more efficiently. What they determined was that there is a definite benefit from chromium when it comes to remediating the insulin resistance typically found in type 2 diabetics. They did caution, however, that this benefit may be more associated with individuals who have elevated fasting glucose levels and hemoglobin levels.
In any event, it is clear that there is a strong association between this mineral and the way your body is able to use insulin. Have a look at your diet and make sure you are getting the RDI for chromium. Foods high in chromium include broccoli, grape juice, potatoes, whole grains, and garlic. Make sure you talk to your doctor before taking chromium supplement, as there can be harmful interactions with certain drugs.