Research shows that the trace element chromium has been found to improve appetite, mood and glucose regulation in different types of patients. Scientists at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill reported recently in a medical journal that Chromium might be helpful in eating disorders and gave either 600 mcg or 1000 mcg chromium picolinate or placebo to patients who were overweight for six months
The researchers found that those who received chromium had fewer binges, lost more weight and less depression than those who didn’t receive the element. Those who received a higher dose had the best effects with fasting blood sugar levels. They concluded that adding chromium to the plan of action for those who are depressed or suffer from mental disorders may be a smart thing to do. If you consider taking chromium supplements, you must do so under the guidance of a clinical nutritionist as it may be harmful if not taken properly.
But why does chromium work so well in those who are deficient and need the element? How is chromium tied to weight loss?
There are several mechanisms proposed:
1. Chromium deficiency causes symptoms of impaired glucose tolerance, diabetes and increased need for insulin. Thus putting it back into the body in adequate amounts will reverse these symptoms.
2. Chromium affects insulin levels. It does this because it’s a cofactor for an oligopeptide called chromodulin, which improves tissue sensitivity to insulin and facilitates glucose transport into the cells, according to Linus Pauling Institute scientists.
3. Chromium also is tied to the creation of serotonin and dopamine in the body; hence, people feel better when losing weight. It’s easier to lose weight when you’re feeling better than when feeling miserable.
4. Chromium may inhibit the breakdown of insulin in the body.
5. Some scientists report that chromium reduces oxidative stress and inflammation in the body. Inflammation is tied to weight loss.
6. High carb diets increase chromium excretion in the body. It also increases insulin secretion.
7. Chromium may reduce food cravings and food intake in those who are overweight.
8. Chromium deficiency isn’t the only cause of insulin dysregulation – and that’s probably why replacing it as a single nutrient hasn’t shown to be effective. But once you consider the whole picture of nutrient status and insulin issues, it’s easier to get a positive response in the body.
What we do know is that supplements that have worked in the studies for weight loss have usually been 500 mcg to 1000 mcg. But the adequate daily intake is set so much lower than the amount of chromium that has been found to be helpful in the studies. It’s only 25-35 mcg!
Here’s a list of a few of the highest food sources of the trace element:
11 mcg in ½ cup broccoli or ½ cup green beans
2.7 mcg in 1 cup mashed potatoes
7.5 mcg in 8 ounces grape juice
2.3 mcg in 1 cup orange juice
2.0 mcg in 3 ounces beef
2.5 mcg in 1 bagel
3.6 mcg in 1 English muffin
1.4 mcg in one apple with peel
1.0 mcg in one banana
What’s the smartest thing to do before supplementing? First determine if you even need it with a blood test. Chances are good you are low if you have eaten sugar and processed foods over the years, as these deplete the body of chromium.
Be wary of chromium picolinate supplements – there have been case studies of kidney failure from taking it that occurred in as little as two weeks. If you want to supplement with Chromium, you must do it under the supervision of a clinical nutritionist who can help suggest other supplements to balance your diet and help you succeed on your weight loss journey.
Source: Brownley, K.A., et al. A double-blind, randomized pilot trial of chromium picolinate for binge eating disorder: results of the Binge Eating and Chromium (BEACh) study. J Psychosom Res 2013 Jul; 75(1): 36-42.
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