Chromium as a Cholesterol Supplement
Chromium is an essential trace mineral first discovered in 1955. Although our bodies contain only a few milligrams, even this tiny amount is critical for regulating insulin and blood sugar levels, as well as activating enzymes essential for energy production. We get chromium through food, primarily yeast, grains, nuts, prunes, potatoes, and seafood. But we don't get enough overall. Many Americans are deficient in chromium. One reason is that diets high in refined sugar leach chromium right out of us. Recent studies find that supplementing with chromium may not only lower cholesterol but also help stabilize blood sugar levels and improve insulin sensitivity. Thus, it may be particularly beneficial to people with metabolic syndrome or diabetes.
What does the research show?
In one small study of 28 people, those taking 200 micrograms of chromium daily for 42 days had significant decreases in both total cholesterol and LDL, decreases that didn't occur when they took a placebo. At least eight other studies have found that chromium supplementation improved cholesterol. And numerous studies found supplementing with at least 400 micrograms of chromium improved fasting glucose levels, a sign of improved insulin sensitivity. Be aware that chromium may take several weeks or even months to yield results.
Who should take it?
People with metabolic syndrome or diabetes, as well as anyone susceptible to chromium deficiency including athletes, the elderly, and people who follow diets high in refined sugar.
200 to 400 micrograms a day in divided doses for people with insulin resistance. 400 to 1,000 micrograms a day in divided doses for people with diabetes. For cholesterol maintenance 200 micrograms daily should be sufficient.
Warnings and contraindications.
If you have diabetes, check with your doctor. Taking chromium may alter your requirements for insulin or other diabetes medication.
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