Chromium is a mineral that is essential for carbohydrate and fat metabolism. The most commonly studied supplemental forms of chromium are brewer's yeast, chromium picolinate, and chromium chloride. Scientists believe that chromium helps insulin bring glucose from the blood into the cells for energy. But research studies on chromium to improve glucose tolerance have had conflicting results.
The American Diabetes Association states that "at present, benefit from chromium supplements has not been conclusively demonstrated". Similarly, the FDA states that "the relationship between chromium picolinate intake and insulin resistance is highly uncertain. More research is needed". In the studies showing the greatest benefit of chromium supplementation to glucose control, the subjects had deficient levels of chromium prior to supplementation. And while the American diet is low in chromium, most people are not deficient.
Food sources of chromium include broccoli, whole grain bread and cereal, nuts, cheese, green beans, grape juice, red wine, black pepper and thyme. The recommended AI (adequate intake) of chromium is 35 mcg for males and 25 mcg for females.
One potential side-effect of prolonged high-dose chromium intake is that it may lead to iron and zinc absorption issues and deficiencies. Before you opt for supplements, talk to your doctor. But certainly, unless otherwise contraindicated by other dietary factors, consider increasing your intake of foods that are good sources of chromium.
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