You may have noticed that confusion and conflict start to show, when even expert writers are talking about chromium. That’s a sure sign that knowledge is not really concrete.
Dr. Al Sears, for example, a writer I admire, is telling us in one newsletter we can get chromium from beef (true) and then a couple weeks later is telling us their isn’t much chromium in beef and grains (also true).
Chromium made pigs lean he said. One study took commercial pigs and fed them chromium, and measured significant fat reduction. Researchers changed nothing else about the pigs … all they did was give them chromium and they got leaner (less fat) and gained muscle. 1
Another study at the University of Kentucky found much the same thing. They added chromium to the diet of pigs and got an “increased percentage of muscle and decreased percentage of fat.”2
But then other quality websites swing the opposite way. According to the Linus Pauling Institute, at Oregon State University, studies show that chromium is of little use in losing weight. The studies they quote clearly showed that; but were they holding back on the studies that DID show chromium helps lose weight?
The University of Maryland appears to say almost the opposite! To quote their website: “Some studies suggest that chromium may improve lean body mass (namely, muscle) and reduce body fat. However, despite the popularity of chromium (especially chromium picolinate) for weight loss, the effects are small compared to those of exercise and a well-balanced diet.”
Always the same caveat, of course: “More research needed.”
Even I was starting a get a little leery of the conflicting advice.
Are there any facts to help us out here? Well, one thing is without question: WE ARE ALL SHORT OF CHROMIUM. It’s simply not present in the foodstuffs produced by modern Agribusiness and the food industry. It’s one of the many casualties of food refinement—and a dangerous one at that.
Second, we NEED chromium to help our sugar metabolism. Chromium, you probably know, is sometimes called the “glucose tolerance factor” or GTF. It works as a co-factor for insulin, making insulin more effective and reducing “insulin resistance”, one of the main routes to obesity.
Disordered carbohydrate metabolism leads to obesity and heart disease. So it’s pretty obvious that the epidemic rise in diabetes is at least related to low chromium in the diet.
It’s important, therefore, that you get enough and that means taking an adequate supplement. It’s a vital health-giving nutrient. Yet 90% of the population isn’t getting nearly enough
I recommend 100- 200 mcg a day. You just can’t get that from food, even the most “organic” rated. As I said, the soil is deficient, never mind plants.
Remember, we need more of this good stuff as we get older, because we retain less chromium. Junk food, pollutants and antacids (indigestion treatment) all block chromium absorption.
Chromium food sources, such as they are, include lean meats, organ meats, mushroom, oatmeal, prunes, nuts, asparagus, cheeses, pork kidney*, whole-grain breads and cereals, molasses and some bran cereals. Certain spices, such as thyme and pepper have some chromium.
Brewer’s yeast (particularly yeast grown in chromium-rich soil) is a rich dietary source of chromium. Unfortunately, vegetables and fruits contain only low amounts of chromium.
Processed meats (which you shouldn’t eat anyway) are often quoted as good sources of chromium.
*GTF was originally extracted from pork kidney
1 Lindemann, M. D., Wood, C. M., Harper, A. F., et al, “Dietary chromium picolinate additions improve gain: feed and carcass characteristics in growing-finishing pigs,” J. Anim. Sci. 1995; 73:457-465
2 Mooney, K.W., Cromwell, G.L., “Effects of dietary chromium picolinate supplementation…” J. Anim. Sci. Nov 1995; 73(11):3351-7