Chromium Can Help You Live Longer, Age Slower & Cure Diabetes

90 percent of adults in the United States have a dietary deficiency of chromium.

This is according to biochemist Richard Anderson, Ph.D., of the Us Department of Agriculture, Beltsville, MD.

Nine out of 10 Americans don't take in a minimum of 50 mcg/day -the low end of the 50 to 200 mcg/day recommended by the National Academy of Sciences.

One of the most grave nutritional problems is unrecognized chromium deficiencies, states biochemist Richard Passwater, Ph.d., based on many geriatric studies revealing that body stores of chromium in individuals eating refined diets decrease dramatically with age.

Chromium is Scarce in Foods   

Assuming a nutrition-rich and well-balanced diet, chromium is so scarcely distributed in the earth that you would have to eat more than 3,000 calories to derive the minimum 50 mcg/day.

Moreover, if you want to ingest the upper limit of chromium -- 200 mcg/day -- you would have to take in more than 12, 000 calories.

Only minor traces of chromium are found in food. The richest sources are brewer's yeast and egg yolk. Other good sources are blackstrap molasses, whole grains, apple, sweet potato, honey, seaweed, thyme, certain vegetables and whole grains. Unfortunately, the problem of adequate intake is compounded by the fact that exercise and an excessive intake of sugar and alcohol markedly step up the amount of chromium lost in the urine.

If a diet with a reasonable number of calories can't provide you with enough micrograms of chromium, the obvious alternative is to derive some from nutritional supplements, such as chromium picolinate and chromium polynicotinate (niacin-bound chromium).

Why is Chromium so Important? 

It is a key part of what is called the glucose tolerance factor (GTF), which regulates our metabolism of glucose (blood sugar), the body's major source of energy.

Serious diseases and symptoms can result with a chromium deficiency
And if you fail to take in enough? The possibility of diabetes, heart and arterial disorders, high blood cholesterol, excessive levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) (the bad kind) in relation to high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol (the good kind); hypoglycemia (low blood sugar); deficient memory and sluggish thinking; overweight and even obesity; a weak immune system; and premature aging.

Chromium stars in the role of normalizing glucose tolerance, the ability of our cells to absorb and utilize blood sugar properly. Almost all of its influence on the body and mind is based on this function.

Insulin, a hormone secreted by, the Islets of Langerhans (in the pancreas), can't do its job of regulating the metabolism of carbohydrates, fats and proteins without close cooperation from its cofactor, chromium, which helps get glucose through membranes and into our trillions of cells.

Patrick Quillin, Ph.D., R.D., highlights chromium's importance:

"If glucose metabolism is altered (such as in diabetes or chromium deficiency) then tissue wasting occurs as the body scavenges its own protein stores of fuel .... Diabetics with low insulin output have a much greater risk of heart disease. So do people with a low chromium intake. Chromium deficiencies produced in laboratory animals stimulate either diabetes or heart disease or both."

High blood glucose levels -as in diabetes-damage proteins by means of a process called glycation (metabolism of polysaccharides, complex sugars) -most clearly demonstrated in tissue and nerve degeneration in diabetics. Glycation also takes place in arteries, causing cardiovascular deterioration.

All sorts of physical complications can result from ingesting some processed foods, many of which contain large amounts of sugar. There are small but important amounts of chromium in whole grains and in cane sugar. However, there is so little in processed grains and white sugar that the tiny amounts of chromium in your cells are withdrawn to compensate for this. So your chromium bank account -if there is one -can easily be depleted.

Several decades ago, the Wall Street Journal ran a feature article about a U.S. Department of Agriculture study which demonstrated that a diet high in refined sugar brings about a high cholesterol level. The reason? As mentioned earlier, a high sugar intake drains away the small residual chromium and blocks the absorption of dietary chromium. Further, in impaired sugar metabolism, the liver speeds up cholesterol production. Therefore, it is not uncommon for a person to show an elevated blood cholesterol while closely following a low-cholesterol, low-fat diet.

Sufficient Chromium can Extend Life Span

A sufficient intake of chromium not only minimizes the chance of developing degenerative diseases, but it also extends the life span.

Using one form of chromium, chromium picolinate -picolinate being a chelating substance which improves cell absorption of this trace mineral -Evans extended the life span of rats a whole year!

This constitutes a 36 percent gain in life-extension, the equivalent of a person living to the more than ripe old age of 110 years.

Another researcher, Roy Walford, Ph.D., of UCLA, noted for his theory that undernutrition contributes to a longer and healthier life, advocates eating much less than we think is necessary.

Chromium supplementation and calorie restriction seem to achieve longevity by means of a similar biochemical pathway.

Physiologist Edward Masoro, Ph.D., of the University of Texas Health Sciences Center at San Antonio, has a theory that restricted calorie intake extends life span by reducing the amount of glucose (sugar) circulating in the bloodstream.
He is not alone among physiologists and biochemists in holding this belief. Higher glucose levels caused by greater food intake -without sufficient chromium -accelerate tissue damage due to glycation. Constantly elevated blood sugar contributes to an accumulation of damaged protein and accelerated aging.

This theory is what motivated Evans to start his longevity studies. He observed that chromium in human volunteers did two things: 1) reduced blood sugar levels and, therefore, 2) the amount of glycation that took place by enhancing and enabling the activity of insulin.

Pregnant women need chromium for their unborn baby.
Just as folic acid helps prevent birth defects, chromium is also a must to assure a healthy and proper-weight baby. Inasmuch as most of the population is chromium-deficient, it makes sense for women of child-bearing age to be assured of an adequate intake.

There are two tell-tale signs shown in pregnant women who are chromium-deficient: a strong aversion to alcohol and, later, carbohydrate intolerance.
In addition to chromium picolinate, there is another major form of this trace mineral, chromium polynicotinate.

A recent brouhaha in the press concerned the potential harm of chromium picolinate. The original study, reported Jane E. Brody in the December 6, 1995 issue of The New York Times, reported damage to chromosomes of human cells grown in tissue cultures in the laboratory. Critics maintained that the scientists used totally unrealistic doses, exposing cells to 3,000 to 6,200 times as much chromium picolinate as they might encounter through ordinary supplement use.
Richard Anderson, Ph.D., told Brody that,
"I have worked on chromium all my life and I defend the value of chromium supplements. More than 50 percent of the population has a marginal, or worse, chromium deficiency."
At a meeting of the American College of Nutrition in Washington, D.C., on October 14, 1995, Harry Preuss, M.D., a professor of medicine and pathology at Georgetown University Medical Center in Washington, said that niacin-bound chromium (chromium polynicotinate) supplements may help prevent certain cases of high blood pressure and slow aging.

Niacin-bound chromium reduces sugar-induced high blood pressure
In his study, Preuss found that, in animal experiments, sugar-induced high blood pressure was significantly decreased when chromium, bound to niacin, the B vitamin, was added to the diet.

In addition to benefits in helping to prevent degenerative diseases, chromium contributes to the benefits of weight loss, muscle building, energy and endurance developing, as well as thinking more efficiently and, among a multitude of other benefits, helping us to cope with stress more successfully. And who among us doesn't need a little help in these areas of our lives?

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