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What do elevated blood sugar levels, depression, and excess weight have in common? They all may improve with chromium supplements.

What do elevated blood sugar levels, depression, and excess weight have in common? They all may improve with chromium supplements.

Chromium, an essential dietary mineral, plays a central role in how the body uses insulin to burn sugars, carbs, fats, and proteins for energy. Because of this insulin-enhancing role, chromium can be especially helpful in controlling, and sometimes reversing, some of the symptoms of prediabetes and type 2 (adult-onset) diabetes. *Chromium supplements, which are commonly sold as chromium picolinate, chromium polynicotinate (niacin-bound chromium), chromium glycinate, and chromium amino acid chelate, may reduce appetite and contribute to weight loss. *The mineral can sometimes help in treating depression, particularly atypical depression, which often manifests as depression accompanied by excessive hunger, weight gain, unexplained exhaustion, and/or too much sleep, according to psychiatrist Malcolm Noell McLeod, MD, author of Lifting Depression: The Chromium Connection, who has done extensive research on the link between chromium and depression.

HOW IT WORKS: *Chromium is essential for the normal activity of insulin, the key hormone involved in burning food for energy. Symptoms of chromium deficiency, including elevated blood glucose, insulin, total cholesterol, and triglyceride, can resemble those of prediabetes and syndrome
X. This doesn’t mean that a lack of chromium alone causes diabetes, but low chromium intake likely contributes to diabetes.

When people eat a lot of sugar and sugar-like carbs, their blood sugar levels quickly rise. In response, the body secretes insulin to lower blood sugar. However, after many years of this “blood sugar-insulin roller coaster,” cells become resistant or unresponsive to the action of insulin. This situation leads to still more insulin secretion in an effort to compensate–and ultimately to insulin resistance, the cornerstone of prediabetes and type 2 diabetes. *Less insulin is better-and chromium maximizes insulin function.

*Chromium supplements can have a dramatic effect on blood sugar and insulin levels. In a study of 180 people with type 2 diabetes, 1,000 mcg of chromium picolinate daily resulted in significant improvements in blood sugar and insulin levels after just four months. Niacin-bound chromium has similar benefits. In one study, people taking 300 mcg daily of niacin-bound chromium had significant decreases in fasting blood sugar and modest reductions in triglycerides and glycated hemoglobin (which reflect blood sugar levels over six weeks) after three months.

* Weight control. Stable blood sugar often translates to fewer hunger jags, which in turn leads to eating less and losing weight. In one study, 28 overweight women took 200 mcg of niacin-bound chromium three times daily for two months, as partof a program of moderate dieting and exercise. The women lost significant amounts of fat, but preserved their fat- and sugar-burning muscle tissue. In another study, researchers found that taking chromium picolinate with the diabetes drug glipizide reduced the weight gain side effect.

* Depression. Researchers at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, School of Medicine found that supplements of chromium picolinate could relieve depression. It appeared most effective in dosages of 200-400 mcg in people who were overweight or had a history of overeating (again, associated with atypical depression). Many of the patients also began losing weight after taking chromium and were able to stop taking antidepressant drugs. Researchers believe chromium may increase serotonin.

Jack Challem. (2007) “Diabetes can count in chromium: what do elevated blood sugar levels, depression, and excess weight have in common? They all may improve with supplements of the trace mineral chromium”. Better Nutrition.


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