What Is Chromium And Why Is It Good For Us?
When I ask people “What is chromium and do you think your body needs it?” They tend to look a bit confused. It’s something to do with chrome, steel, kitchen sinks, right?
Is that really something we need in our bodies?
Yep, it is.
It may sound crazy but it’s true: The same mineral that helps make stainless steel and chrome also helps your body process carbohydrates.
And that same mineral is an essential mineral that the body needs in tiny amounts for the proper function of insulin and management of blood sugar.
So what is chromium? It’s key to our health and wellbeing, is what it is!
What Is Chromium All About?
The name ‘chromium’ comes from the Greek word chroma - meaning colour - because chromium compounds tend to be brightly coloured.
In its natural state, chromium is a hard, lustrous metal. It doesn’t tarnish easily and has a high melting point. It’s a powerful thing!
Chromium can be found in food too though.
The best food sources of chromium include brewer’s and nutritional yeast. There are also trace amounts in whole grains, wheat germ, liver and meats, cheese, potato skin and some beans.
Like selenium, the chromium content of soil has a big impact on how much is available from food. Unfortunately many parts of the world are deficient in these important trace minerals.
In fact, this is a key reason we’ve included chromium - as chromium picolinate - in Athletic Greens.
What is Chromium Picolinate?
On one hand: chromium levels in food are falling due to soil levels of chromium being depleted over time.
And on the other hand: most people could do with some assistance when it comes to regulating blood sugar levels. Especially considering that most people over-consume carbohydrates, which can lead to elevated levels on a regular basis.
So if we’re getting less assistance from our food due to falling levels in food, how else can we get the benefits of chromium?
Of course one option is to get it from a supplement. In Athletic Greens we include chromium as chromium picolinate.
Chromium picolinate is a compound made from chromium and picolinic acid. It’s the most bioavailable, widely studied and prescribed form of chromium supplement.
Exactly how chromium picolinate works in the body remains a mystery, but we do know that it’s intimately linked to the function of insulin.
A short lesson on insulin:
If you hear about insulin a lot, but still feel unsure exactly what it is, no stress. Here’s a quick lesson so you can be sure of its importance.
Insulin is a special hormone, made by cells in the pancreas, that helps manage blood sugar levels. After you eat, blood sugar levels rise temporarily - and insulin steps in to ensure that the sweet stuff ends up inside the cell, to be used for energy, rather than floating around in the bloodstream.
Chronically high circulating blood sugar has all kinds of negative consequences for the body, such as damage to vessels and capillaries, nerves and organs.
This is why people with diabetes - a disease of the pancreas and/or insulin function - are at greater risk of cardiovascular disease, neuropathy, eye problems and other big-name diseases.
So what is chromium picolinate’s role in this? Chromium helps insulin work properly - which is why there’s increasing evidence to support its use in diabetes and other metabolic conditions.
What Is Chromium Picolinate Good For?
We’ve touched on some of these already, but here’s a proper breakdown of the possible benefits of chromium:
→ Blood sugar management
→ For Type 2 Diabetes
→ Weight management
→ Reducing appetite
→ High cholesterol and blood lipids
Preliminary evidence shows that chromium may improve low mood, possibly due to its positive effect on insulin.
May be due to mood-boosting and health-promoting effects of chromium.
→ Acne in PCOS
Some evidence suggests that chromium supplementation can reduce acne lesions in women with PCOS - which is strongly linked to metabolic dysfunction.
How To Enjoy The Benefits Of This Essential Mineral
As you now know, chromium is an essential trace mineral. And it’s safe when taken correctly.
If you’re taking chromium separately, it’s best to take it in two doses, with meals containing carbohydrates. The accepted dose is 1000 mg per day.
There are no known interactions or warnings for chromium supplementation. As with most supplements, those taking prescribed medication, with known allergies to chromium, or who are pregnant or breastfeeding, should first consult their medical practitioner.
An important thing to note: Chromium picolinate is pretty popular these days in the fitness community and is often sold with diets for people trying to lose fat. This is because chromium can help with regulating blood sugar levels, helping blood vessel health and potentially weight loss.
So while it’s not necessarily a myth that chromium picolinate assists with fat loss, there’s a lot of hype around it and a lot of claims that it’s super effective for fast fat loss.
This simply isn’t the case! In fact, taking high doses of chromium picolinate in the hope of losing more body fat can be dangerous due to the risk of toxicity.
A much better approach is to improve overall health and diet over time. I say best to enjoy everything - including trace minerals like chromium - in moderation!
Of course, we recommend enjoying the benefits of chromium via a superfood supplement like Athletic Greens, to ensure you’re getting the right daily dose.
Plus, along with the correct dose, you’re also getting the additional benefits of other ingredients in Athletic Greens that chromium works well with.
Chromium picolinate works well with Alpha Lipoic Acid as they both have a positive influence on healthy blood sugar levels. Both have also been linked to improving symptoms in those suffering from PCOS
(Polycystic Ovary Syndrome).
So what is chromium? A little recap:
Chromium is not just for the stainless steel sink - it’s an essential mineral for the human body too!
It appears to play an important role in metabolism and blood sugar management, via its effects on insulin. It may also benefit weight management (over time), food cravings, appetite regulation, acne in PCOS - and even mood and libido.
To know you’re topping up your chromium levels to the right levels, simply take your delicious Athletic Greens mix daily. We’ve got your chromium needs covered.