What is Chromium?
Chromium is a metal which is located under the Group VI of the periodic table. This mineral is also found in hard water, some fresh fruits and vegetables like broccoli, orange, grape fruit, meats, yeast, potatoes, whole grain cereals and bread, cheese, nuts, poultry, beans, fish, etc. The human body requires chromium in trace amounts and the daily requirements are normally provided by regular dietary intake. But the elderly and those who suffer from diabetes are at a risk of chromium deficiency.
Benefits of Chromium for Weight Loss
In addition to the various roles played by chromium in maintaining and regulating different functions of the body, chromium is also gaining popularity as a weight loss supplement for the following reasons:
- Chromium plays an effective role in reducing cholesterol by decreasing the levels of triglycerides and LDL
- Chromium helps in controlling the blood sugar
- Carb cravings can be diminished by chromium
- Chromium supplementation can cause weight loss by reducing fat mass and increasing lean muscle mass
- Chromium fights against insulin resistance
How Does It Work?
Chromium is known for maintaining and lowering excess blood sugar levels and diminishing cravings for sugary carbohydrates. During digestion all carbohydrates are converted to glucose and then absorbed into the blood. In normal healthy bodies, insulin helps sugar to reach the cells where it can be used as a source of energy. Chromium increases the sensitivity of the cells to sugar and when the cells have had their optimal amount, the craving center in your brain becomes inactive. So, if a person gains weight and is not able to lose it because of his or her cravings, chromium is a good supplement to take control of the situation and keep cravings in check. Also, good levels of chromium tend to make the body burn more fat rather than muscle.
There are many other benefits of chromium which are as follows:
- It helps to elevate the levels of good cholesterol and reduce bad cholesterol levels in people taking heart medications
- It is used in the treatment of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) as well as depression
- Chromium contributes to improved athletic performance, increased muscle mass and decreased body fat
- It might help in treating diabetes
- Chromium may delay the loss of calcium from bones which may be of help in preventing calcium loss in menopausal women
The benefits of chromium for weight loss are also backed by research and clinical studies as follows:
In a study (source), the blood sugar in response to a meal of carbohydrates (white bread) with and without a chromium supplement of 400 micrograms was measured. It was found that the chromium supplement resulted in a 23% reduction in blood sugar.
In another study (source), 28 volunteers were either given a chromium supplement or a placebo for 42 days. It was reported that total cholesterol and LDL decreased significantly in participants who were given the supplement. Also an increase in the level of HDL cholesterol was also found.
There exists no Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for chromium. However, experts have come up with the minimum daily amount of chromium which is required by the body. For women it is 25 mcg per day (19-50 years) and 20 mcg per day (older than 50 years), while for men it is 35 mcg per day (19-50 years) and 30 mcg per day (older than 50 years).
For people who want to use chromium supplements for weight loss or to reverse the pre-diabetic situation, 200mcg is a safe dose to adhere to.
Generally, chromium is characterized as safe to use for adults when taken in prescribed doses, but some people may suffer from the following side effects:
- Mood swings
- Skin irritation
- Weakened coordination, judgment and thinking
If high doses are taken, then the side effects may be more severe. Such as:
- Kidney or liver damage
- Blood disorders
A word of caution
Consult your doctor and exercise proper care and caution if you have any of the following conditions:
- Pregnancy and breast-feeding
- Liver or kidney disease
- Schizophrenia, anxiety or depression
- Leather/chromate contact allergy
Even though chromium is proven to play an effective role in controlling blood sugar and reducing blood lipid levels, it is always best to consult your doctor before starting on any supplement. Also, don’t expect the supplement to work like magic and trim down your waist! You need to incorporate a proper diet and exercise regime while counting your calories in order to lose weight faster. Always remember: there is no shortcut to weight loss – only supplements, which can help you do it faster and manage it the right way.