Chromium plays a key role in carbohydrate metabolism by participating in the creation of a compound called the "glucose - permissive factor" or "GTF". Nutrients associated with GTF play an important role in blood sugar balance. GTF includes: Chromium (which is the active ingredient), nicotinic acid (a version of vitamin B3) and amino acids that make up glutathione (glutamic acid, cysteine and glycine).
Functions of chromium
Controls blood sugar levels - as an active component of GTF, chromium plays a major role in the control of blood sugar. The main function of GTF is to increase insulin action. Insulin is the hormone responsible for the transfer of sugar ( glucose ) into cells, where it can be used to generate energy. Chromium participates in the processing of cholesterol, suggesting a role in maintaining normal levels of blood cholesterol. In addition, chromium is a nucleic acid involved in metabolism. Nucleic acid makes the building blocks of DNA material in each cell and chromium plays that role well.
Methods of food processing remove much of the naturally occurring chromium in commonly consumed foods. Chromium deficiency leads to insulin resistance, a condition in which the body's cells do not respond to the presence of insulin. Insulin resistance can lead to increased blood levels of insulin (hyperinsulinemia) and elevated levels of blood sugar can eventually cause heart disease and/or diabetes.
In fact, even small chromium deficiency is associated with a medical condition known as Syndrome X. Syndrome X is a constellation of symptoms, including hyperinsulinemia, hypertension, high triglycerides, high blood sugar levels and lower cholesterol levels.
For people with diabetes or heart disease, the body needs larger amounts of chromium. Additional amounts of chromium are required for physical injury, trauma and mental stress.
For their part, the additional amounts of chromium can cause a drop in blood glucose levels. If you take insulin or oral glucose-lowering drugs should be taken with the adoption of additional amounts of chromium, as your blood sugar levels may drop too much. Calcium carbonate contained in calcium supplements and antacids reduces the absorption of chromium, while aspirin increased it.
Diets high in sugars increase the excretion of chromium in the urine. Diets rich in whole grain foods can also reduce the absorption of chromium. Ascorbic acid (vitamin C) in turn, increases the absorption of chromium.
Benefits of chromium
Chromium plays a role in the prevention and/or treatment of the following diseases: acne, glaucoma, high cholesterol levels, high triglyceride levels, hypoglycemia, obesity, psoriasis, type 2 diabetes and others.
Sources of Chromium
Foods that are sources of chromium are lettuce, onions, tomatoes, brewer's yeast, oysters, liver, whole grains, bran, cereals and potatoes. Beer and wine can accumulate chromium during fermentation and are considered good food sources of mineral.
In many cases, the applicable food processing methods for different kinds of food lead to a reduction of chromium content.
On the other hand, foods cooked in stainless steel tanks can accumulate chromium by extracting minerals from kitchen utensils.