Chromium, an essential mineral that our bodies need in trace amounts, plays an active role in maintaining normal blood sugar and insulin levels. Chromium is the active component of glucose tolerance factor (GTF). The primary function of GTF is to assist insulin. It does this, with the help of chromium, by making it possible for insulin to hold on to the glucose molecules and transport them into the cells where they’re needed for energy.
Chromium can also help prevent or treat other conditions such as acne, obesity, glaucoma, and psoriasis, to name a few.
People with any of the following health problems may have a deficiency of chromium: elevated insulin levels (hyperinsulinemia), high blood sugar, high blood pressure, high levels of bad cholesterol, low levels of good cholesterol, high triglycerides, and insulin resistance. Insulin resistance, a combination of all of these conditions, leads to Syndrome X and can contribute to heart disease and diabetes.
All of these conditions cause your body to increase the excretion of chromium, causing a need for a higher level of chromium than normal. You may also need higher levels of chromium if you suffer a physical injury, trauma, or mental stress. A diet high in simple sugars will also cause the body to lose chromium through urination.
While there are foods that contain concentrated amounts of chromium, including onions, oysters, brewer’s yeast, tomatoes, whole grains, potatoes, and bran cereals, getting adequate chromium in our diet is difficult because manufacturing and processing procedures remove most of the naturally occurring chromium. On the plus side, nutritionally, ascorbic acid (vitamin C) increases the body’s absorption of chromium.
As we age, we naturally need less chromium. For men ages 19 through 50, the adequate intake level is 35 micrograms, dropping to 30 micrograms after 50. Women need 25 micrograms until age 50, but only 20 micrograms after that.
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